Have you tried cooking with ‘aquafaba’? Wait, have you heard of aquafaba? It is the liquid from a can of chickpeas and it can be used as an egg replacement, more specifically an egg white replacement, in vegan cooking (find out all about it here http://aquafaba.com/index.html). Amazingly, you can whip this chickpea brine, or ‘aquafaba’ as it has been named, and it becomes light and fluffy like egg whites. Although I now eat meat after 10 years of being vegetarian, I would say that I eat a predominantly plant-based diet and I like to experiment with healthier, low calorie versions of desserts. So when I saw recipes popping up on vegan food blogs that I follow, I was intrigued and had to give it a try.
I experimented with aquafaba in a chocolate mousse and in a Mocha orange bean brownie. It really does become light and fluffy when you beat it. It can be used to make vegan meringue, however, I have no desire to make a meringue as it seems like a lot of effort. I decided to go with a simple, no added sugar chocolate mousse made with coconut butter. Most recipes will instruct you to whip the aquafaba with an electric mixer but I do not own one so I just used my food processor. While I don’t think I quite achieved the soft peaks I should have, I was still quite impressed with the final texture of the mousse. I used the remainder of the aquafaba from a can of chickpeas in a Mocha orange bean brownie made with cannellini beans. It was good too; moist without being overly rich and made without any refined carbohydrates or butter. I served the mousse with a big slice of brownie for a tasty, no refined carbohydrate dessert.
So what about the science behind this amazing substance? I would assume that the ability of aquafaba to form a foam is due to the proteins in the brine from the chickpeas, which act the same way as the proteins in egg whites. As you beat the chickpea brine, the proteins from the chickpeas become denatured or unfolded. This exposes both hydrophobic (water repelling) and hydrophilic (water attracting) amino acids. Also as you beat the brine, air is introduced. The denatured proteins gather together where the air and water meet and bonds form between the denatured proteins creating a foam and holding the incorporated air in place.
If you are curious about aquafaba then I encourage you to give it a go. It is such a cheap ingredient that it doesn’t matter if you screw it up the first time; think about how many times you have poured chickpea brine down the sink. My first attempt at using aquafaba was in a banana and coconut loaf. I used way too much and the loaf fell apart.
Do I have any suggestions on how to use the chickpeas themselves? Yes I do. I like to oven roast or pan roast chickpeas for a nice addition to a salad. I oven roasted the chickpeas from this particular can by spreading them out on a baking tray lined with baking paper and covering them with a couple of tablespoons of balsamic vinegar, a tablespoon of tomato paste, chopped garlic, salt and pepper. I added the roasted chickpeas to a salad made with rocket, baby cos lettuce, tomato, mushrooms roasted with balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper (I put them on the same tray as the chickpeas) and pan fried halloumi cheese. It was a delicious whole food dinner and dessert with plenty of dietary fibre, vitamins and minerals.
½ cup of aquafaba
2 tablespoons coconut butter, melted but cooled
2 tablespoons coconut milk
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon granulated erythritol/stevia blend (I like Natvia brand)
Measuring cups and spoons
- Add the aquafaba to the food processor and process until it is light and fluffy. Add the remaining ingredients to the food processor and process until well combined. Scoop the mousse into a bowl and refrigerate until the mousse is firm.
Mocha orange bean brownie made with ‘aquafaba’
¼ cup of aqua faba
½ cup of cannellini beans
2 tablespoons of coconut butter or oil, melted
2 tablespoons cocoa powder (I think 3 would have been better)
1 orange, peeled and chopped into quarters
2 tablespoons stevia
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 heaped teaspoon of instant coffee
½ cup coconut milk
½ cup coconut flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
Measuring cups and spoons
20cm x 20cm baking tray
- Preheat the oven to 160°C. Firstly, add the aquafaba to the food processor and process until it is light and fluffy. Add in the cannellini beans, coconut butter or oil, cocoa powder, orange, stevia, vanilla extract, instant coffee and coconut milk and process until the mixture is smooth.
- Mix together the coconut flour and baking powder in a mixing bowl. Add the mixture from the food processor to the flour and mix well to combine. Scoop the brownie mixture into a 20cm x 20cm baking tray lined with baking paper. Bake for 40 minutes or until the brownie is firm. Allow the brownie to cool before removing it from the tray using the baking paper. Allow it to cool completely before slicing.