Aquafaba, the Magical Egg Replacer
Compiled by Dale Ball
“Aquafaba” is a word that was made up to describe the viscous water that results from cooking chickpeas or other legumes…aqua=water + “faba”= legume. Aquafaba’s introduction to the world started in 2015, when several people, most notably Joel Roessel and Goose Wohlt, started playing with it as a hen’s egg replacement. Read the fascinating history here. It is safe to say that aquafaba is a game changer. It can make mayonnaise, meringues, and replace eggs in many baking applications, even as substitute for and egg wash on browning breads and pies…all from something we used to pour down the drain! The legume/bean most often used for aquafaba are chickpeas, but really, almost any legume’s cooking liquid can work. Homemade aquafaba is best, and you end up with several cups of magic that you can freeze in little portions for later use. A 15 oz can of chickpeas will yield anywhere from 2/3-3/4 cup aquafaba. 3 Tbsp of aquafaba equals one egg in many recipes. Whipped topping is super easy to make for strawberry shortcakes, or any other cake or pie. Bake the whipped topping for an hour or two and you have light, crunchy meringue cookies. When blended with powdered sugar, it makes an amazing royal icing for cookie and cake decorations. There are many online resources to explore using aquafaba, and a few cookbooks out, the first one being Aquafaba, Sweet and Savory Vegan Recipes Made Egg-Free With The Magic of Bean Water, by Zsu Dever.
Aquafaba has a Wikipedia page! Check it out here.
Aquafaba acts as an emulsion here, replacing hen’s eggs or egg yolks. After making the basic mayo, try adding a clove or two of minced garlic; stir in some chipotle sauce, or fresh herbs. Use flavored oils like truffle or basil. This mayo is well worth the few minutes it takes to throw together. Makes about 1 cup, and keeps for about a week. An immersion blender ( hand-held stick blender ) is really the best for this, and also for blending soups in their pot, and making salad dressings and sauces. It’s a tiny, but mighty appliance ! By making this right in its own jar, using the immersion blender, the cleanup is minimal. When you are finished making it, just screw on a lid to the jar and there’s no blender to wash out.
¼ cup thick, unwhipped aquafaba (reduce a runny aquafaba by gently simmering on the stovetop in an open saucepan)
2 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 tsp lemon juice
1-2 teaspoons dry mustard pinch of sugar or agave (optional)
¾-1 cup mild vegetable oil, chilled
Toss everything except the oil into a narrow bowl or mason jar. Blend with an immersion blender for about 30 seconds to combine. Then with blender running, very slowly drizzle in the oil in a steady stream, scraping down with a spatula if necessary. It should emulsify in just a few minutes. Flavors will mellow after the mayo chills for a few hours.
Aquafaba Whipped Topping, with Some Fun Variations
A few notes: If your aquafaba is very thin, reduce it some (by maybe a 1/3, but make sure that you have at least 2/3 cup for this recipe). by boiling in a small pot. It should be slightly viscous, similar to thinnish egg whites. Make sure all of your equipment is sparkly clean, since any residual oil or grease will keep the meringue from forming. Use a glass or metal bowl to whip the meringue, because plastic can retain oils. A stand mixer, fitted with the balloon whisk, or a hand-held electric mixer/beater are a must for this recipe…you cannot make it in a blender or food processor. Legend has it that a few people have been able to make the whip with just a whisk and their own strength. Below are a few recipes for making Meringue Cookies, Chocolate Mousse, and Aquafaba Fruit Ice Cream, all using the Basic Aquafaba Whipped Topping.
Basic Aquafaba Whipped Topping
2/3 -3/4 cup aquafaba
½ cup sugar
¼ tsp cream of tartar (or ½ tsp lemon juice)
1 tsp vanilla extract (or other oil-free extract flavoring)
Place aquafaba and sugar in a small sauce pan and bring to a simmer for a few minutes to melt the sugar. Let cool to at least room temperature. It works best when chilled. Place the cooled aquafaba and sugar mixture into the bowl of a stand mixer and sprinkle in the cream of tartar. Start beating on low to incorporate the cream of tartar. When it looks foamy, turn up the speed a bit and continue to beat for about 10 minutes. Stop and scrape down the sides when needed. It should have low, soft peaks, or be a very thick foam at this point. Add the vanilla. Turn up the speed and continue to beat until you get stiff peaks. This may take another 10 or so minutes. You cannot over-beat the meringue, so don’t worry. You will end up with 4 to 6 cups of a dense, sweet foam. A this point you can use it as a whipped topping on cake, ice cream, or other dessert ( really good on strawberry shortcakes ! ) that should be used right away, or within a few hours ( keep chilled )…it starts to deflate soon after being made.
Follow the recipe for the Basic Whipped topping. You can further flavor the meringue by adding ground, dehydrated fruit such as strawberries or raspberries ( sift out the seeds for best results ), gently folding in about 3 Tbsps of the powder into the stiff peaks. For the basic cookies, spoon the Basic Whipped Topping into a piping bag fitted with a round or star tip ( or spoon the meringue into a gallon-sized zip baggie and snip a small corner off the bottom ) and pipe any size meringues you like onto parchment paper-lined cookie sheets. You can also just dollop spoonfuls of the meringue onto the parchment paper. Leave a little bit of room between shapes…they puff up just a bit, and you want air movement between them, as they bake and dry. Bake the cookies in a preheated oven set between 180 and 200 degrees Fahrenheit. Make sure your oven will not go over 200, or your meringues may just melt into a puddle. Bake for 90 minutes to 2 hours, depending on the size of your shapes. When done, they should easily peel off the parchment paper and feel hollow inside ( taste one ! ). Cool in turned-off oven for at least 4 hours. When completely cool store in airtight containers. Makes many!
This really is an amazing, elegant, and easy dessert! Simply make the Basic Meringue, melt 3 to 6 ounces of best-quality vegan chocolate, cooling it close to room temperature, then very gently folding it into the meringue. If the melted chocolate is too warm it will melt and deflate your meringue, so be careful. Pour the meringue and chocolate mixture into dessert dishes or a bowl and refrigerate for 4 hours or more. You can freeze this too…it makes a nice light ice cream.
Aquafaba Fruit Ice Cream
1½ cups fresh fruit chunks, such as strawberries, raspberries, mangos, or peaches.
1 recipe Basic Aquafaba Meringue
Toss the fruit into a blender and blend until it is a s smooth as you would like it. Some small chunks will be fine, but big chunks will probably sink, and cause the whipped aquafaba to deflate. Gently fold the fruit puree into the meringue and scoop the combined mixture into a freezer proof container and freeze for at least 8 hours. Makes from 4-6 cups of ice cream.