Star-Spangled Berry Parfait

star spangled berry parfait

star spangled berry parfait

Happy 4th of July! Okay, it’s actually the 5th. But 4th of July, known in the United States as Independence Day, is a weekend long celebration. So, if you have not yet made a red, white, and blue dessert to go with tonight’s dinner, then try out this patriotic parfait.

For the conclusion of my holiday feast, I wanted a treat that echoed red, white, and blue in berries and cream. Parfaits are a wonderful way to achieve this look. I started with a box of vegan jello mix that I had on hand, and got fancy with a vegan cream recipe I rustled up. I added fresh berries then, admittedly the toughest part, a vegan meringue to complete my layered dessert. Altitude had no effect on any component, and each part was vegan, so no changes needed to be made. I’ve merely gathered the pieces together for you to enjoy.

Star-Spangled Berry Parfait with thanks to Rouxbe Online Culinary School

for the gelled layer
1 packet Simply Delish Jel Dessert in strawberry or raspberry
for the cream layer
3/4 cup raw cashew pieces, soaked for 3-4 hours to soften
1/2 cup water
5-6 tsp maple syrup or agave nectar
1 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of sea salt
1 cup rough chopped fresh strawberries with stems removed
for the meringue layer
1/2 cup unsalted chickpea liquid, previously reduced and chilled *
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
4 ounces caster sugar
1 tsp non-alcoholic vanilla extract
1/2 tsp fresh lemon juice
for the fruit layer
1-2 cups fresh blueberries, or a combination of blueberries and sliced strawberries
for the garnish
several fresh blueberries or sliced strawberries

For the gelled layer: Prepare Jel dessert per instructions on the box. Pour into a heat-resistant glass bowl. Let cool on the counter for a few minutes to allow condensation to evaporate. Place the bowl in the fridge to cool completely and set up.

For the cream layer: Place cashews, water, maple syrup, vanilla and salt in a high speed blender. Process on high until very smooth, scraping down the sides of the blender as needed. Add strawberries and blend well.

aquafaba meringue on whisk

aquafaba meringue on whisk

For the meringue layer: Place the bean liquid and cream of tartar in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Beat the mixture on low speed until the cream of tartar is incorporated and the liquid is semi-opaque. You may need to stop the mixer and stir the contents at the bottom a few times to get it fully mixed. Increase the speed to high and beat for an additional minute, or until opaque. Reduce the speed to low and begin adding the sugar 1 tablespoon at a time. After the first addition, raise the speed to high, beating for 1 minute after each addition. After all of the sugar has been added, continue to beat for 10 minutes on high speed, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a spatula once or twice. The meringue should be stiff, white, and glossy. If not, keep beating until it is.

Reduce the speed to medium and slowly add vanilla and lemon juice. Immediately raise the speed to high and beat for another 3 minutes, or until the meringue is stiff, white, and glossy and resembles marshmallow fluff. The total time needed depends on your mixer and the brine used. You cannot over beat aquafaba, so don’t worry. * Success Tips: Heat the bean water on the stove to reduce it by 1/3, then chill it before making the meringue. It should be thick and resemble egg whites. Also, vegan meringue keeps its loft best when prepared with a non-alcoholic extract.

To assemble: Take the bowl of set up gelled dessert out of the fridge. Add an even layer of blueberries for the fruit layer, extending to the edge of the bowl so the berries can be seen from the side. Pour the cream over the berries, leaving space at the edge of the bowl to allow berries to be seen through the glass. Either add dollops of meringue over the top, or put the meringue in a pastry bag fitted with a star tip to pipe a decoration over the top. Garnish with fresh berries.

Until next time, happy non-baking!

What the Heck is Aquafaba?

Chickpeas for Aquafaba

Image courtesy of pedrik at flickr.com

Months ago, while searching online for vegan baking inspirations, I stumbled across a reference to Aquafaba. It said that the brine from cooked chickpeas could work as a vegan substitute for eggs. My initial response was, “Huh?” Then followed, “Who even thought that this made sense in the first place?” I realized I needed to explore this idea further and here is what I found.

Joël Roessel, through the testing of various vegetable foams, discovered that the liquid from cooked chickpeas can be whipped into a foam in the same way as flax mucilage. Flax mucilage is an egg substitute of flaxmeal whipped with water, but he found it had limited uses. So, one year ago, Joel posted his discoveries on his blog. Soon after, Goose Wohlt saw a video in which the creators used a whipped chickpea liquid to make chocolate mousse. The recipe was complicated so Goose experimented and found that he could make a vegan meringue with just sugar and the chickpea brine.

The brine, renamed by Goose as Aquafaba, is considered “the liquid drained off a can (or pot) of chickpeas, or other legumes. (Loosely, Latin for water = aqua, bean = faba.)” The word got out on this momentous vegan discovery and a Facebook page, now with almost 33,000 members, was born so that those using the product could share their experiences with it. That is the web page I discovered earlier this year that sent me down the rabbit hole. Most people were trying the product out on meringue because that was Joël’s original use, but I wanted to make cakes. I watched as foodists played with it and I read their recipes and soon Aquafaba took off.

There is now a website dedicated to the stuff. It has been talked about throughout the internet and been showcased in magazines such as Veg News and Vegan Life. As a vegan baker looking for higher protein egg substitutes to work at high altitude, I knew I had to jump on that bandwagon and test it for myself. My last post is about my Candy Cane Chocolate Cake made with Aquafaba. I enjoyed making and eating it but it seemed a tad dense, a problem I suspect was due to the brine. I know that I need to discover new uses for Aquafaba and perfect the old ones when used at high altitude. This will definitely not be my last word on the subject.