Chocolate Cardamom and Blackberry Meringue Tart (Vegan)

Having read about the possibilities of using aquafaba to make egg-free Italian meringue (!!), I couldn't wait to try it myself; the obvious choice of excuse being a meringue tart of some sort. Chocolate and cardamom are always a winning combination in my eyes (er, mouth), and blackberries are approaching the height of their season in the UK right now, so lemon meringue steps aside this time for something a little bit different. 

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There are lots of recipes for vegan shortcrust pastry out there (I've had personal success with the version in Post Punk Kitchen's Vegan Pie in the Sky book in the past), but this time, for speed and convenience, I used shop-bought ready-to-roll shortcrust pastry; many brands are vegan. Follow your chosen recipe or the pack instructions (depending on your personal laziness-factor) to bake the pastry shell before proceeding with the recipe.


Chocolate Cardamom and Blackberry Meringue Tart
 

Ingredients:
 

  • 1 baked tart shell (the tart tin I use measures 36 x 12 x 3 cm)

    For the tart filling: 
  • 280ml full-fat coconut milk
  • 1 tsp ground cardamom
  • 200g dark chocolate, chopped finely
  • 50g dairy-free sunflower spread
  • 1 punnet ripe blackberries

    For the Italian meringue topping:
  • the liquid from 1 tin of chickpeas (unsalted!)
  • 1/4 tsp xantham gum
  • 140g caster sugar
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
     

Method: 

  • First, make the ganache filling. In a small saucepan, heat the coconut milk with the ground cardamom, until only just boiling. Meanwhile, place your chopped dark chocolate alongside the dairy-free spread in a bowl or jug. When the coconut milk is just simmering, take it off the heat and pour onto your chocolate/margarine. The heat of the coconut milk with melt the other ingredients, but I find it easiest to help it along with a whisk. When you have a smooth, shiny ganache, with no lumps remaining, pour into your tart shell and allow to set. 
     
  • When the ganache is set, arrange your blackberries on top as you see fit - I also kept a few back to put on top of the tart later - and prepare to make meringue!
     
  • Italian meringue is set not in the oven, but by adding hot sugar syrup to your whisked egg whites (or aquafaba in this case!). Put 80ml (1/3 cup) of aquafaba along with the xantham gum in the bowl of a stand mixer, and start whisking, keeping at it until fluffy.
     
  • Meanwhile, put the sugar and 60ml (1/4 cup) of the remaining aquafaba in a saucepan, and bring to the boil. To set the meringue, this syrup needs to reach a very high temperature, and it's really useful to have a thermometer on hand to make sure that you get it hot enough - the temperature that you're looking for is between 116 and 120°C (242 - 248°F)
     
  • Turn your stand mixer back on at a slow speed and gradually drizzle in the boiling hot syrup. When it's all added, turn your mixer up to high, and give it a good whisk - it should transform into a smooth, glossy, thick meringue, something like the consistency of marshmallow fluff. Add your vanilla, and mix until incorporated. 
     
  • To finish the tart, spoon your meringue mixture onto the set base, the swirlier the better, and sprinkle with the remaining blackberries. Enjoy as it is, or toast the peaks of the meringue with a cooks blowtorch until golden brown. 


While the added xantham gum in this recipe should allow your meringue topping to stay good for at least a day, the sooner you eat this the better, so make sure you have lots of hungry mouths on hand to enjoy straight away!