There’s a new word gaining traction in the vegan and health food scenes, mostly thanks to some rather decadent desserts that have been popping up all over Instagram: aquafaba. And if you’re a vegan, have an egg allergy, or just want to replace eggs with plant-based ingredients, it’s a lifesaver.
What is Aquafaba?
Aquafaba is literally “bean juice.” Or more specifically, chickpea juice. Also known as the garbanzo bean, the chickpea has long been a canned dietary staple. But, the first thing you usually do with a can of chickpeas is to drain off that not-so-appealing-looking brine.
But not anymore…
In an attempt to find better, more stable substitutions for cakes and desserts, vegans have long been searching for the “golden egg” – a vegan egg alternative that can fluff and foam like delicate egg whites.
A few years ago, a software engineer from Indiana, Goose Wohlt, went on a mission to create a perfect vegan meringue.
He witnessed a couple of French chefs making mousse using the liquid from a can of chickpeas, and he was intrigued.
He immediately tried it out as a vegan meringue alternative, and it worked! He soon coined the word “aquafaba” and… as they say, the rest is history.1
But you don’t need to be a vegan to embrace aquafaba. It’s perfect for anyone who has egg allergies, or those just looking to cut calories, but not flavor. It’s also a much cheaper alternative to the expensive (and often starchy) egg substitutes on the market.
How Do I Use Aquafaba?
Let’s take a look at some of the healthy desserts that are being hashtagged across social media using this unbelievable “chickpea juice.” The one commonality between all recipes is that you’ll need to whip your aquafaba.
As impossible as it sounds, once you start whipping aquafaba it completely transforms– and ends up looking just like stiffly-whipped egg whites! Though not entirely necessary, many people recommend adding a pinch of cream of tartar to your brine before whipping. It can make the whipping process a little quicker and easier. Don’t stop whipping until you have stiff meringue-like peaks.
Meringue without egg whites? It seems absurd, but now, it’s possible. Whip up 6 tablespoons of aquafaba with ½ teaspoon cream of tartar, then add 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract and ½ cup of low-calorie artificial sweetener in place of sugar. Once you gain firm peaks, pipe onto a cookie sheet and bake for around 90 minutes at 250 degrees Fahrenheit. Lemon meringue pie or macarons for dessert tonight, perhaps?
Drain the liquid from one can of chickpeas, add ⅛ teaspoon cream of tartar, one teaspoon vanilla, and low-calorie artificial sweetener to taste. This one is perfect for adding to the top of your coffee for an instant frappuccino-style indulgence with barely any calories!
A two-ingredient chocolate mousse? Yes! Use one can of aquafaba brine and whip until stiff peaks form. Then, stir in 5 oz. of melted (and slightly cooled) dark chocolate. Don’t worry if the peaks deflate somewhat during this step. Refrigerate for around two hours, and voilà! – a healthy dessert for your “treat” day!
Dairy-free ice cream that tastes like the real deal? Yes. Using bean water from one can of chickpeas, whip the aquafaba, then chill it. Puree about 8 -10 of your favorite berries (strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries are all great), and add them to the mix. Then, add powdered sweetener to taste — just a spoonful at a time. Freeze the mixture, and enjoy!
Guilt-free mayonnaise! Whip up aquafaba from one can of chickpeas with a pinch of cream of tartar. Add ¼ teaspoon ground mustard, ½ teaspoon salt, ¾ cup of grapeseed oil, one tablespoon of lemon juice and ½ -1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar, and combine. That’s it – your mayo is ready to go!
Try squishing this sticky deliciousness between your newly-baked aquafaba macarons. Whip ½ cup aquafaba with ¾ teaspoon guar gum and ⅛ teaspoon of cream of tartar. Add ½ cup sweetener and 2 teaspoons of vanilla, combine, and enjoy.
This is probably the healthiest butter you’ve ever laid eyes upon. Using 3 tablespoons of whipped aquafaba, combine with ⅓ cup coconut oil, 1 tablespoon of grapeseed oil, 3 teaspoons of lemon juice and ⅓ teaspoon of salt. Refrigerate to set, then spread to your heart’s content.
Aquafaba can also replace eggs in recipes that call for egg yolks, like brownies and waffles, as it’s thought to create a crispier texture. In basic terms, one egg is generally replaced by three tablespoons of aquafaba, and you can store it in the refrigerator for about 10 days. It also freezes well.
If you’ve got concerns about the “beany” fragrance of aquafaba, don’t worry. That fragrance will go away once you add it to your other ingredients. Or, if you make your own brine by cooking the chickpeas yourself, you won’t get a “beany” scent at all.
Aquafaba has taken the vegan restaurant scene, and Instagram, by storm, and can even be seen in the country’s best cocktail programs where emulsified aquafaba is being used to add “egg-white” foam to cocktails.
Aquafaba: A Final Note
Unless you’re vegan, or allergic to hen’s eggs, don’t go cutting the real deal from your diet completely. On average, egg whites contain 10 grams of protein compared to the 1 gram found in aquafaba. Plus, since aquafaba doesn’t retain the full nutritional profile of chickpeas, it has much less fiber.
But it’s an exciting prospect to gain something fun out of something previously viewed by many as “wastewater!”
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