OK. If you are looking for a delicious accompaniment to your fresh Michigan strawberries, a fun science experiment for the kids, or a great conversation piece at your next party, I've got you covered: Aquafaba Meringues. I came across this article/recipe in the New York Times about a man who was looking for a good vegan alternative to egg whites, and you will not believe what he discovered: if you use the "water" from a can of chick-peas, you can whip it up just like egg whites. It works, and it is DELICIOUS! But mostly, you just can't believe that you are using something you would normally toss down the drain to compose a dish!  It tastes so good with just a little bit of sugar and some vanilla, I would use it as a whipped cream substitute for someone who can't do dairy or just wants a healthier alternative (use honey to sweeten it and it would be Paleo!). It probably wouldn't stay whippy, so I'd guess you'd want to whip it just before using. This recipe is SO SIMPLE but be sure to follow the important step of baking for a long time at a low temp. The first time I tried this, I baked at a higher temp for less time, and we enjoyed one flat, giant, goopy cookie, I don't think you could even call it a cookie.  Delicious, but not quite right. So the second time around I stuck more closely to the recipe with great results. So here it is, your new favorite treat, with a name that's super fun to say. Also stay tuned at the end for a bonus recipe of delicious roasted chickpeas, that can be made in the same oven, at the same time, as the meringues, using the leftover chickpeas you need to acquire the aquafaba. Two recipes for the price and time of one!

AQUAFABA MERINGUES W/ a COCONUT CRUST

WHAT YOU NEED:

-1 Cup Unsweetened Coconut (I like the big huge flakes, but any coconut will do, even sweetened flakes)

-Water from one can of Chickpeas (a.k.a aquafaba)

-1/3 Cup plus 1 TBS Sugar (I reduced from the NYT recipe and it worked out great)

-2 tsp. Almond Extract

WHAT YOU DO:

1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Prepare three cookie sheets: line with parchment paper, then sprinkle coconut in approximate "footprints" for the cookies, about 1 tsp. per cookie or more/less to taste. The coconut will form a crispy little "crust" for the meringues.

2. Drain the liquid from the chickpeas into a measuring cup. One can should give you about 3/4 cup liquid. Pour liquid in a mixing bowl, and beat on high until stiff peaks form. This will take a little bit longer than egg whites (up to 15 minutes) but it's so worth it if only for fun and amazement that it works!

3. Add the sugar, one heaping tablespoon at a time. Then add almond extract. Now TASTE IT because there are no raw eggs in it, even though it seems like there are! So it's perfectly healthy to eat before you cook it! And it's delicious, but don't eat it all or you won't have enough for step 4.

4. Drop about a heaping teaspoonful per cookie onto the coconut "crusts" on the pan. You will be tempted to make these cookies huge in order to fit them onto less pans, but if they are too big, they are a little harder to handle at the end. Small-medium is best for these cookies. Don't worry--that means you can eat more of them because they are small.

5. Bake for 1.5 to 2 hours, until cookies are dry and firm to the touch. Cool before eating. They supposedly store for a few days in an airtight container, but I wouldn't know because we gobble them up the first day quite easily.

AND HERE IS YOUR BONUS RECIPE: ROASTED CHICKPEAS

WHAT YOU NEED:

-Can of Chickpeas, drained

-Good Olive Oil, I like our Persian Lime

-Any Spice or Spice Blend that you Choose, I like our West Indies Blend, or you can use no spice at all, or just salt & pepper.

WHAT YOU DO:

1. Line a jellyroll pan or cookie sheet with parchment paper for easy cleaning, or just use the pan as is. Pour Chickpeas onto pan, drizzle with oil, sprinkle with spice, and stir, or roll around the pan if you don't want to dirty a spoon.

2. Put in the oven with the aquafaba meringues and cook. When the meringues are done, so are the chickpeas.

3. Eat them plain as a snack, toss on a salad, or use in any chickpea recipe to add a different texture and flavor.

4. If you don't have four cookie sheets that can fit into the oven at one time, an alternative to this recipe is to cook the beans AFTER you make the cookies, for a shorter time (about 15-20 minutes) at a higher temp (about 375 or 400 degrees). This recipe is very flexible and it's tasty every time!

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