TORONTO — Most people pour the viscous liquid from canned chickpeas down the drain, but creative bakers have discovered they can use this “aquafaba” to add volume to delicate baked goods like meringue, angel food cake, chocolate mousse and macarons.
“The greatest thing about it is that it is now opening up a world of food to vegans and those with egg allergies and allowing them to eat foods that previously have not been available to them,” says Rebecca Coleman, author of Aquafabulous! 100+ Egg-Free Vegan Recipes Using Aquafaba (Robert Rose Inc., www.robertrose.ca, 2017).
A fluffy meringue results when a few spoonfuls of bean water — canned or left over from cooking your own — some sugar and a little cream of tartar are whipped for about 10 minutes.
“Even though I’ve done it a hundred times now, every time I do it I’m still kind of amazed. ‘This is a miracle. I just took bean water and made a meringue out of it,’” said Coleman.
“It’s like a magic trick.”
Coleman said she used a blow torch with spectacular results on desserts like baked Alaska and lemon meringue pie.
Vegans have long used everything from applesauce to mashed bananas to prunes to add volume and moistness to baked goods, but none of those worked in more delicate applications.
Goose Wohlt, a software engineer in the U.S., hit upon the concept of using the liquid from beans in 2015 and is credited with coining the name aquafaba, which combines the Latin words for water and beans.
The fluid is animal-free, dairy-free, gluten-free, cholesterol-free and extremely low in calories.
When the proteins in aquafaba are combined with certain ingredients, they behave like an egg white, but have only about one-10th of the protein.
The liquid from chickpeas is most commonly used because it is neutral, though any kind of white beans like cannellini or navy will work. Coleman has also successfully used tofu water.
The fluid from black and kidney beans works fine too, but the result is an unappealing brownish colour. The liquid can also be folded in to savoury applications as an emulsifier, binder and a thickener. It can be added to wet ingredients in a similar manner to oil, milk or eggs.