When you’re eating a plant-based diet and avoiding eggs, you’re always on the look out for suitable replacements. Foods like bananas, apple sauce, pumpkin, and flax seeds have long been used as whole egg replacers in recipes, but they don’t work as replacements for actual egg whites in recipes like meringues. A solution was sorely needed, and a group of bloggers has discovered it.
If you’ve been frequenting the vegan “blogosphere” lately you may have heard of the new big thing – Aquafaba. The first time I heard of this I thought someone was referencing a Harry Potter spell. Turns out that “aquafaba” is just a fancy name for bean water (latin: aqua = water, faba = bean), as it is typically referring to the liquid inside a can of chickpeas. This liquid is the best known vegan egg replacer to date, and I can attest to this. I’ve tried it in recipes from cookies and pie, to French macarons and marshmallows. This brine can act as an emulsifier, binder, leavening agent, and foaming agent in recipes. A cholesterol-free, low-calorie vegan egg white replacer? Sign me up!
Here are just a few of the things you can do with aquafaba (according to the official Aquafaba website, http://aquafaba.com):
Raw: Fluffs, whips, nice creams, and drink and pie toppings
Baked: Meringues, macarons, and pavlovas
Confectionery: Nougat, marshmallows, fudge and icings
Savory: Cakes, waffles, cookies, mayo, burgers, cheese, butter, breads
I have found that using 3 tablespoons of Aquafaba to replace one egg works the best. Other bean brines have been found to work as well, but if you’re experimenting I recommend sticking with light-colored beans, as the liquid will have a more neutral flavor and won’t add color to whatever you’re making.
The next time you open a can of garbanzo beans, save the liquid! Try out a new recipe. There are so many you can find with a simple Google search, and I’ve provided two that I have perfected during these last few weeks.
Delicious Vegan Cornbread
¼ cup vegan Earth Balance margarine (half of a stick)
1 cup non-dairy milk of your choosing
3 tablespoons aquafaba
1 ¼ cups yellow cornmeal
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
¾ cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
2. Whip aquafaba until foamy in electric stand mixer.
3. Heat butter in saucepan over low heat or in microwave in 30 second increments, until melted.
4. Add margarine to whipped aquafaba along with non-dairy milk and whip on medium until well combined. Add cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt all at once and stir with a spatula until all is just combined with no dry bits.
5. Pour batter into pan and bake for 20-25 minutes until golden and a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean. Serve warm with vegan chili! (my favorite)
Adapted from recipe by Charis Mitchell, floralfrosting.blogspot.co.uk
Makes ~20 macarons
¾ cup aquafaba (liquid drained from a can of chickpeas)
½ cup sugar
1 tablespoon dried lavender
1 ¼ cup almonds
½ cup powdered sugar
2 teaspoon organic vegan pastel sprinkles
1 tablespoon heaped Earth Balance vegan butter spread
3 cups powdered sugar
2 tablespoons lemon extract
2 teaspoons homemade yellow food coloring, or a few drops of store bought
1. Begin by simmering the aquafaba in a small pan over a medium heat until it has reduced to 1/3 cup. Set aside to cool for 10 minutes while you prepare your dry ingredients.
2. Process the almonds in a food processor until finely ground, then add the powdered sugar and lavender and process again until combined. Sieve into a medium bowl and discard any pieces too big to pass through the mesh.
3. Once the aquafaba has cooled down, pour it into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a balloon whisk and whisk on medium speed until white and fluffy (this takes me around 5 minutes). Add the sugar and whisk on high until the meringue is extremely stiff and glossy (depending on your mixer this can take anywhere from 5-10 minutes).
5. Press the batter against the side of the bowl and then scoop up from underneath. This is called macaronnage, you can view videos on YouTube if you are unsure of the technique. Repeat this 15-20 times, until the batter is thick but slowly drops off the spatula, like a ribbon.
6. Spoon the mixture into a piping bag and seal it at the top. Pipe 1-inch circles onto baking trays lined with parchment paper, being careful to pipe from above as opposed to from the side. Hold each tray at chest level and drop onto the work surface or table twice. Sprinkle the sprinkles over the top of half of the macarons and leave to dry out for two hours at room temperature.
7. Place your first tray of macarons in the oven and then set it to just under 100 degrees Celcius. Bake the macarons for 20 minutes before turning off the oven and leaving them in there for 15 minutes, and then opening the door and leaving them in there for a further 15 minutes. Remove the tray from the oven and leave the macarons to cool completely on the tray while you make the frosting.
1. Cream together the butter spread and a cup of the powdered sugar until fluffy. Add the lemon juice and zest and mix well. Add more powdered sugar, a 1/2C at a time until your frosting is thick but will pipe easily. Finally, add the food coloring until you reach a bright yellow shade. Scoop into a piping bag and seal at the top. Pipe generous blobs of frosting onto the bottom shell halves (the ones without the sprinkles) and sandwich them together with the top halves.
2. Place in the fridge in an airtight container overnight – this is an important step as it allows the flavor from the frosting to seep into the shells and gives the macarons the desired chew.
Photos by Dana Lingard