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Cooking with Chemistry: Vegan Baking

Article by Sarah Snow. Featured in the Q4 Newsletter of The Cosmetic Summit.

Cosmetic Chemists have had a push for natural products, but now there is a trend for vegan or vegan friendly products. Vegan can mean a few different things, but the overall need is the removal of all animal derived products. The major ingredients this affects in cosmetics are things like lanolin, collagen, beeswax, and albumin from eggs. The trend for plant-based or vegan options has already been felt by the food industry, and we can use some of their tricks to make consumer satisfying formulas.

The largest challenge in vegan baking is the replacement of eggs. Eggs have lecithin in the yolk so they are a natural choice as an emulsifier for the water-soluble and fat soluble ingredients. The egg white helps baked goods gel providing a denser crumb to cakes. The egg white can also form a unique foam providing air into baked goods. Food makers have already come up with tons of vegan replacement to eggs due to the fat-free craze of the 1990’s, but foam creation is the hardest to find a replacement for.

Is there a vegan option for foams? Aquafaba, the reduced liquid left over from canned chickpeas. That’s right don’t throw away the beany goodness after straining from the beans. Simply reduce the liquid over medium to low heat until 1/2rd of the liquid is boiled off, and then allow to chill.

Once chilled add to a large bowl and use an electric whisk to whip up the aquafaba. Aquafaba can be easier to create foam than egg whites because it’s not as sensitive to impurities and the structure is carbohydrate based rather than protein based like egg.

You may have seen more places selling a treat called a macaron. Macarons are visually striking and make great gifts. They are light and airy wafer like cookies with cream or jam in the middle and notoriously had to make, requiring a meringue (egg foam) for their structure. Using aquafaba you can create macarons as a great gift to the vegans in your life.

McVean, A. (2019, June 18). What is Aquafaba? Retrieved November 9, 2019, from nutrition-you-asked/what-aquafaba. 

Pink Vegan Macarons with Raspberry Buttercream (ala “Live Kindly”)



250 grams aquafaba (water from a can of chickpeas — roughly 2 cans)

40 grams caster sugar (extra fine granulated sugar)

100 grams almond flour

200 grams pure powdered sugar (Check for bone char, not vegan)

1-3 drops vegan red food coloring (Carmine color is not vegan)

A few drops vanilla extract

Raspberry Buttercream:

125 grams vegan butter

55 grams powdered sugar

A few drops vanilla extract

A few drops vegan red food coloring (or beetroot juice)

2 tablespoons raspberry jam


Pour aquafaba into a pot and reduce over a low heat to 110 grams.

Refrigerate aquafaba overnight or pop it in the freezer for 15 mins.

Preheat oven to 250° Fahrenheit (120° Celsius).

Place almond flour and icing sugar in a food processor and blend for 1 minute.

Add the chilled aquafaba to another bowl and mix on high until soft peaks begin to form.

Sift caster sugar and almond meal/powder sugar mixture into the whipped aquafaba, and gently fold ingredients together. The mixture should be silky and shiny.

Transfer the batter to a piping bag and pipe rounds directly onto a parchment paper-lined baking sheet.

Allow pipped rounds to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes or until a hard shell forms.

Bake for 25- 30 minutes. Once finished, turn off the oven and leave the door closed for 15 minutes, then slightly open the oven door for another 10 minutes. Then take the macarons out to completely cool. This process allows them to set up properly and not shrink or crack.

Place the buttercream ingredients into a food processor and mix until smooth.

Pipe the raspberry buttercream onto half of the macarons, then sandwich with the remaining macarons.

Refrigerate macarons for another 2 hours before serving.

If giving as a gift, package in a box but keep refrigerated until ready to consume. Other filling flavors can be made, the sky is the limit!

Recipe adapted from: Vegan Soulicious. (2018, October 30). Perfectly Pink Egg-Free Aquafaba Macarons. Retrieved November 11, 2019, from vegan-aquafaba-french-macarons-high-tea/.