May 9, 2015

Vegan Saffron, Strawberry and Lime Meringue Nests

Ever since I was a little girl I’ve been fascinated by meringues. There’s something so magical about those white, fluffy clouds of sweet vanilla. The chewy goodness of pavlovas, with their marshmallow-like middles and cratered tops that are begging to be dolloped with whipped cream and crowned with berries.

So beautiful, yet nigh on impossible without egg whites which somehow, when whipped up, have more volume than Claudia Schiffer’s barnet in a L’Oréal Elnett ad.

Well that’s what I always thought… until now.

Vegan Saffron Strawberry and Lime Meringue Nests

The protein in egg whites allows the air bubbles created by lots of whipping to be held. Sugar dissolves into these proteins and bonds with them. The water in sugar helps increases their strength and elasticity, allowing even more air to be trapped and held sturdy. There’s nothing quite like a stiff peak.

Vegan Saffron Meringue Kisses

Without the strong proteins present in egg whites to kick the meringue process off, all you’re left with is sugar. What can vegans and those who abstain from eating eggs use instead? Fear not, we no longer need to be oblivious to the sheer joy desserts like Eton Mess, French Macarons and Pavlova can bring.

Want to know the most frustrating thing about all of this? The answer has been staring us in the face the whole time.

The secret to replacing egg whites is chickpea water. Nope, I haven’t lost the plot. It really is the water we throw down the drain when we’re making our Channa Masala and Falafel. I almost slapped myself across the face when I found out. Mind. Blown.

Vegan Saffron Strawberry and Lime Meringue Nests Chickpeas

I stumbled upon the chickpea water trick through my awesome, creative mum and later, the aquafaba website which was created off the back of a development group of very clever vegans on Facebook. It’s taken the vegan world by storm. From Lemon Meringue Pie to Baked Alaska, this makes almost every meringue-based dessert possible and I can’t wait to try more recipes with it. And share them with you, of course.

BTW, you can’t taste chickpeas in the finished dessert AT ALL. Not one bit.

My first flavour experiments led me to create these very simple Vegan Saffron, Strawberry and Lime Meringue Nests. They’re beautifully-crisp on the outside, slightly spongy and marshmallowy in the middle and they totally melt in your mouth.

Vegan Saffron Strawberry and Lime Meringue Nests

The chickpea water is whipped with cream of tartar, saffron and sugar until stiff and glossy. This takes about 8 minutes in a stand mixer. So quick.

Many meringue recipes call for vinegar, lemon juice, or cream of tartar to increase the foam’s acidity, which promotes the growth and stability of a meringue. You can use any of them.

These are then piped onto a baking sheet and baked in a very low oven for a few hours until they’re totally dry and peel away from the paper easily. The key here is patience. Give these beauties time.

While they were baking, I macerated strawberries in lime juice, zest and a touch of icing sugar. To assemble, I filled them with whipped coconut cream and topped with the strawberries. I love strawberry mojitos and these are like a gorgeously-tall glass of iced strawberry mojito in dessert form.

Vegan Saffron Strawberry and Lime Meringue Nests

You can use this recipe to make a large pavlova too – just add a teaspoon of cornflour to the meringue mixture and bake for 90 minutes longer.

Watch my YouTube tutorial for how to make these right here. Don’t forget to subscribe!

Vegan Saffron, Strawberry and Lime Meringue Nests
(Makes 18 nests or one super large pavlova)


For the Vegan Meringue:
1 x 400g tin chickpeas in water –not brine or salted water (you can also use other white beans – butter beans also worked for me)
140g icing sugar
1 tsp cream of tartar
1 large pinch of saffron
½ tsp vanilla extract (make sure it’s not oil based!)
Yellow gel food colour (optional) 

For the Strawberries:
600g strawberries
1 lime, juice and zest
1 tbsp icing sugar

For the Whipped Coconut Cream:
2 x 400ml full-fat coconut milk, refrigerated overnight
2 tbsp icing sugar


1. Preheat the oven to 100C. Line three large baking trays with greaseproof paper.

2. Drain the chickpeas and reserve the water. Put the chickpeas in a container and use it to make Channa Masala or Hummus later.

3. Pour the chickpea water into the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the balloon whisk attachment. Make sure your bowl is really clean and grease free. Any oil could cause your meringue to deflate.

4. Whisk on a high speed for 4 minutes. Gradually add the sugar and continue to beat. During this time, add the cream of tartar, vanilla and saffron. Once your meringues have reached a really stiff glossy peak stage, add a little bit of yellow food colour if you like. Whip until evenly incorporated.

5. Fit a piping bag with a large star-tipped nozzle and spoon in your meringue. You might have to do it in batches if it doesn’t fit. Shake to remove any large air pockets.

6. Pipe into nests by piping a 3-inch round spiral base, then pipe two to three circles on top of the outer edge of the base, spiraling upwards to create a ‘nest effect’ on the edge of the meringue.

7. Bake at 100C for 2 ½ hours, then switch the oven off and leave for a further hour. Remove from the oven and gently peel the meringues away from the greaseproof paper. They should be totally dry underneath. Remember, the larger the meringues, the longer they will take to bake.

8. Meanwhile, chop the strawberries any which way you like. Add the lime juice, zest and sugar. Mix and cover with cling film. Chill until later.

9. Open the tins of coconut milk (don’t shake them first) and remove the thick cream from the top. Place it in the bowl of your stand mixer and whip along with the sugar until smooth. Reserve the water for a smoothie tomorrow morning.

10. Assemble the nests with a spoonful of coconut cream, top with strawberries and lime zest. Serve immediately.

The plain meringue nests will keep in an airtight container for 3-4 days.

Vegan Saffron Strawberry and Lime Meringue Nests 3

Dig in.

Love Sanjana x

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15 responses to “Vegan Saffron, Strawberry and Lime Meringue Nests”

  1. Jo says:

    Love to know what the chemistry is behind this … Can you shed some light on the magic?

  2. preetymohata says:

    Amazing recipe.. Thnx for sharing

  3. Kasia says:

    And my meringue has collapsed. I’ve followed this recipe, added 1 tps acid vinegar, baking powder and used xylitol ( powdered ) instead icing sugar-I beated all, put to the oven and in few minutes I saw paddle of meringue 🙁 What could go wrong?

    • Sanjana says:

      Hi Kasia. Thanks for your comment. There are a few things which probably caused the meringue to liquefy. Just read that you added baking powder? That’s not necessary in this recipe. You can substitute the cream of tartar for vinegar which it sounds like you did but you wouldn’t need to add any baking powder to it. The second reason is that the structure of xylitol is totally different to sugar. As you used a sweetener rather than a sugar, the proteins in the chickpea juice weren’t able to bond with the sugar and create a stable structure which would have then trapped air and created that meringue-like foam which would have become thick and glossy with more beating. Unfortunately sweetener is a synthetic product and wouldn’t allow for this to happen. I hope this makes sense and that you have delicious meringue to try soon! Next time skip the baking powder and use icing sugar.

      Happy baking!

      Sanjana x

  4. […] make hummus, but we are going to follow the footsteps of K.Orasoi and create a mouthwatering Vegan Saffron, Strawberry and Lime Meringue Nests Click on over and watch the video or dive right in and start creating yummy […]

  5. Ella says:

    Hi Sanjana! Great recipe! But it didn’t form stiff peaks. I put the sugar before the cream of tartar….could that be the reason? Thank you x

    • Sanjana says:

      Hi Ella, thanks for your comment. That shouldn’t have been a problem. Next time try boiling the water for 10 mins, allowing to cool completely in the fridge, them whipping. Should help. Sounds like the water from the can wasn’t thick enough.

  6. murarkaaditiaditimurarka says:

    this is brilliant!!! i Could not believe my eyes when i saw it!! Crazy.. and awesome!! Thank you and keep vlogging

  7. Thank you so much for this recipe! It is really a miracle! These are mine 🙂
    But there’s one little problem. Cooked and dry meringues lose their crunchy texture and get wet, soft and sticky after being on the table for 5 – 6 hours.
    How can I prevent them from absorbing moisture?

  8. Hanna says:

    This is such an amazing idea! I was just wondering how much liquid comes from the 400 g can of chickpeas? Where I live it only tells you the fluid ounces and millimeters.

  9. […] is the magical egg white alternative rocking the vegan food world. From Vegan Macarons, to Pavlova, Meringue Nests, Meringue Kisses and even vegan cheese, the discovery of aquafaba by Goose Wohlt opens up a whole […]

  10. Briju Parthasarathy says:

    They are tempting can you share your valuable tip on storing them as I have made these beauties but they turn soggy at room temp in short while
    I want to keep at dessert table for my baby birthday party.

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