Every time you open a can of chickpeas, you’ll be wanting to keep that bean water now; called aquafaba, the bean water that is usually drained away has been found to be an almost perfect substitute for eggs. When beaten, aquafaba foams up just like egg whites, and also acts as an emulsifier, foaming agent, and thickener. Composed of a complex mix of starches and proteins, the almost-magical substance can also be derived from the cooking water of any legume.
While it’s a perfect egg substitute for vegans, aquafaba also offers its own benefits for those that consume eggs; it’s great for those with an egg allergy, and eliminates any risk of bacterial poisoning usually associated with consuming raw eggs in recipes like homemade mayonnaise or cocktails shaken with egg whites. The general idea is to replace any egg that a recipe calls for with an equal volume of aquafaba, although the starch/protein concentration may vary depending on how concentrated your liquid is — it should be slightly viscous, just like egg whites. If it’s not, boil your bean juice down until it reaches the desired viscosity.
Simply use any traditional meringue recipe, subbing an equal volume of aquafaba for the egg whites (a medium egg should yield about 30 ml of white) while beating with sugar and a pinch of cream of tartar. Once you’ve mastered this the possibilities are endless; macarons, pie toppings and pavlovas are just the tip of the bean-berg.
Replace both the eggs and cream in a conventional mousse with aquafaba for a vegan version. Simply beat the bean juice with a little confectioner’s sugar until you get stiff peaks, and fold in melted chocolate with a pinch of salt, then chill for a quick chocolate mousse.
The aquafaba here replaces egg yolks, which normally acts as the emulsifier to combine vinegar, mustard and oil for creamy mayonnaise. Replace any yolk with aquafaba and you’ve got vegan versions of any egg-emulsified sauce — aioli, tartar sauce and even hollandaise.
For a vegan, no-machine recipe, fold in one part aquafaba, beaten to soft peaks, into one part frozen, blended fruit. Sweeten to taste and freeze the mixture until solid. The aquafaba adds volume and air into the mixture, resulting in a fluffy ice cream that normally would require eggs or/and cream to hold the air bubbles.
If the idea of raw eggs in your cocktails make you nervous, replace the egg whites with aquafaba for any drink that calls for egg whites to create a foamy head, be it a gin fizz or a sour. Don’t worry about any bean flavour in your cocktail — the taste disappears after mixing and shaking.