One day, while wasting time on the internet and checking out various food blogs, I came across a term I’d never seen before: aquafaba. A quick Google search turned up this article from the NY Times, as well as an “official” aquafaba site (who knew an ingredient could have its own PR?). But…what the heck is it, and why is it suddenly all over the blogosphere?
Well, if you’re a vegan (I’m not), one of the trickier things to do is to bake reliably without eggs, and I can see that it would be difficult to replace the emulsifying and leavening properties of eggs, particularly in cakes (and let’s not even get started on, say, meringues!). There are numerous acceptable substitutes for milk, but the egg thing has always been a bit of a stumbling block…until now. Apparently, if you drain a can of chickpeas, and take that liquid that you normally toss out, and dump it in your mixer and whip it for about 5 minutes, you have what looks, acts, and tastes like whipped egg whites.
This concept was just so weird to me, and I didn’t believe it would work, so of course I had to try it. Guess what? It really DOES work. OK, so it smells and tastes faintly beany, but once you add other dessert-friendly ingredients like sugar or chocolate, the aquafaba is indistinguishable from egg whites.
The first thing I tried with it was a chocolate mousse, since the recipe seemed to be on every aquafaba-related website I visited. Sure enough, it tasted only like chocolate mousse, and had that nice, fluffy texture as well.
Next I tried a vegan blueberry muffin recipe which also worked quite well. Then, last night I baked a giant meringue which I plan to use to make Eton Mess, a classic British dessert in which meringue is one of the main ingredients. Sadly, aquafaba meringue reacts the same way to humidity as does the egg-white variety, and I now have a somewhat sticky meringue which I will attempt to dry out in a very low oven. But it’s all good since I’m using up something I would ordinarily have tossed. Now I have the opposite problem: what to do with all those chickpeas that I drained! But since it’s summer, how about a salad? This recipe is a great main dish for a steamy day: open a few cans, mix, chill, and eat! Leftovers are tasty, too.
1 6-oz can tuna, drained (you can use oil- or water-packed as you prefer)
1 15-oz can chickpeas, drained
1 15-oz can artichoke hearts, drained and quartered
1 cup thinly sliced celery
1/2 cup pimiento-stuffed green olives, halved
2/3 cup creamy Italian dressing mixed with 1 garlic clove, minced
Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Pour dressing over and mix well. Garnish with wedges of tomato and hard-cooked eggs, if desired. Serve on lettuce leaves if you are feeling fancy.
Interested in reading, cooking and eating? Our Bibliobites Cookbook group returns on September 30th, check it out!