If you have led life by your stomach as I have, there are limited opportunities for being sanctimonious when anything diet related comes into play. If I’m being completely honest I approached my week of veganism and developing recipes based around aquafaba with some trepidation.
Don’t get me wrong, I love Japanese vegetarian food, a lot of which happens to be vegan. Ditto Southern Indian food, again which is mostly vegan. I think I hated the ‘label’; the fixation on all the things I wasn’t allowed to have, and the pseudo ingredients, the faux burgers etc. But you know what, it was glorious. Cooking with aquafaba is a phenomenal tool in the vegan repertoire – facilitating so much taste, texture and volume. I urge you to try it.
Aquafaba the low down
Aquafaba, Italian for ‘bean water’ is the liquid strained from cooked legumes, and the most popular is chickpea aquafaba. It makes possibly the lightest most spectacular aioli (see below) as well as meringues, cakes and most baked goods.
It acts like an egg replacement doing all the hard work – the lifting, the binding, the volume creating and its pure cooking gold.
How to Use It
You can use aquafaba to replace eggwhites in a recipe as well as whole eggs in baked goods.
Drain and reserve the liquid from cans of chickpeas. Transfer the liquid to the bowl of a stand mixer
If you’re using the aquafaba as a binder, like whole eggs, you will have to lightly whip the liquid until foamy — not whipped – it should still look like runny glue with bubbles. As a meringue, you’ll need to whip it between 10 to 15 minutes. It will take on the appearance of meringue – all tight high peaks and white and thick in consistency.
As a rough guide, 3 tablespoons of aquafaba will bind ingredients like 1 whole egg. 2 tablespoons of aquafaba is about the equivalent of 1 eggwhite.
A few things to note
Some brands of tinned chickpeas are not equal. The liquid can be a lot thicker and gelatinous in consistency, while thinner and runnier, across different brands. If you are using it as a binding agent, it helps to use a more gloopy liquid. If you are using it for a meringue style dish, it doesn’t matter, simply whisk and whip a little longer and the results will be uniform.
Double chocolate aquafaba meringues
Aquafaba drained from 1 tin of chickpeas, (approximately 160ml)
1 cup castor sugar
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
100g vegan chocolate, melted and cooled
Additional chocolate to drizzle
Preheat the oven to 120C. Line a large flat baking tray with baking paper and set aside.
Using an electric mixer, whisk the canned chickpea liquid for 15 minutes or until soft to medium peaks form. Whisking constantly, gradually add sugar and whisk until the mixture is thick and firm. Gently stir through the melted chocolate, you don’t want it to be uniform, you want the chocolate to swirl through the meringue.
Drop large spoonfuls (about two tbsp mixture) onto a large baking paper lined tray and bake in the oven for 1 ¾ hours or until meringues are firm to the touch. Cool in the oven.
Drizzle with additional melted chocolate (if using) just before serving.
Meringues (without additional chocolate drizzle) will keep in an airtight container for 3 days.
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