Cooking with Aquafaba

LGFE aquafaba sponge slices with rhubarb compote and pomegranates (Stefan Stafrace)

Aquafaba sponge slices with aquafaba cream and rhubarb compote

Aquafaba must be one of the most amazing culinary discoveries of all time and it is the name that refers to chickpea water.

I must sing my praises to the humble chickpea, because I find it to be the most versatile ingredient. We use chickpeas in soups, salads, stews and dips. I even use a purée of chickpeas as a substitute to flour in cakes.

I also love chickpea flour, which is made from ground chickpeas. This is frequently used in Indian cuisine, but it is also a great, gluten-free alternative for making the most delicious crépes or pancakes and it also makes wonderful omelettes. Chickpea flour is also often used commercially in ready-made mixes to hold the mixture together.

What exactly is aquafaba? When you cook and soak chickpeas to make them soft, the slimy water can be whipped and it becomes meringue. So many possibilities emerge from the idea of using chickpea liquid as an egg replacer and cream substitute.

We have chickpeas, chickpea flour and, now, aquafaba. As well as meringues, I have made macaroons, a range of baked goods with a softer and more moist crumb and dressings for salads – and I am still experimenting. This is all possible simply by using a waste product. For vegetarians and vegans, egg-free recipes with the same results are now a possibility and never again will I discard the liquid from a can of chickpeas down the drain.

How different our lives and eating habits would have been if the basis of our nutrition focused on the chickpea instead of the egg. Eating plant foods and eliminating animal-based ingredients has become very popular here in Malta too.

Aquafaba is also a welcome replacement to recipes that contain raw eggs and heavy cream such as Tiramisu. Cooking with egg substitutes does require some practice, though. I have been testing out many recipes and today I’m sharing a few that have worked out very well. Chickpea water freezes well and three tablespoons is equivalent to one egg.
AquaFaba Meringues

Simply replacing eggs with the water from a can of chickpeas produces the lightest meringue. It is cholesterol-free, nearly calorie-free, egg-free and actually free.
Liquid from out of one can of chickpeas
100g sugar
A pinch of cream of tartar
2 drops vanilla

Use an electric mixer to whip up the meringue by beating the canned chickpea liquid for 10 to 15 minutes until it forms peaks. Carry on beating and add the sugar, a spoonful at a time, until the mixture is firm. At the end, fold in a pinch of cream of tartar and 2 drops of vanilla.

Prepare a baking dish with baking paper. Place into a piping bag or drop large spoonfuls on the baking paper. Bake at 100°C for 2 1/2 hours to 3 hours. Do not open the oven at any time. Turn off the heat and leave in the oven overnight if possible.

Aquafaba mayonnaise

I use this recipe as the base for many dressings and sauces.

You will need:
The liquid of one can of chickpeas
1 tbsp apple organic vinegar
1/4 tsp stevia
A pinch of salt
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
60ml olive oil

Use the liquid from one can of chickpeas. Pass it through a sieve twice to remove any food particles. Place in a clean glass container. Add the lemon juice, Dijon mustard, salt, stevia and apple organic vinegar. Use a hand blender to whizz to a smooth consistency. It will become frothy and then thick and creamy. Add the oil and carry on blending until it thickens and becomes paler, gaining the consistency of mayonnaise.
Pasta with Aquafaba Basil Sauce

For the sauce:
6 tbsp aquafaba
A handful of fresh basil leaves
1 tbsp apple vinegar
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1/4 tsp stevia
6 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp freshly-grated pecorino, to serve

Cook the pasta following instructions on the packet. Drain well.

Cook the ingredients of your choice to add to your pasta sauce. To make the sauce, place the aquafaba in a container. Add the apple organic vinegar, stevia, mustard and use a hand blender to make a consistent dressing. Add the olive oil gradually and carry on blending the mixture. When it emulsifies, add the basil leaves and this will turn the sauce into a light green colour.

Mix the sauce with the pasta and gently stir in the rest of your cooked ingredients. Mix in with the pasta gently.
Serve with pecorino cheese if desired.

Aquafaba sponge slices with cream

Chickpea liquid can be used to make a sponge cake and the cream to top it. I made these sponge slices during our TV show and this recipe provides an egg-free and dairy-free option with a reduced calorie intake.

1 cup chickpea liquid
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup stevia
2 cups self-raising flour
A pinch of cream of tartar
The seeds from a vanilla pod
1 tbsp cornflour

Preheat the oven to 120ºC. Line a loaf tin with baking paper. Use an electric mixer to beat the chick- pea liquid. When it starts to become creamy, after about 8 minutes, add the sugar a little at a time and carry on mixing. Add the vanilla.

Sieve the self-raising flour, cornflour and cream of tartar. Add vanilla seeds and continue beating until it reaches almost stiff peaks. Turn off the mixer and use a large metal spoon to gently fold in the flour mixture. Work quickly and gently. Do not over mix. Pour the batter into the loaf tin and use a wet spatula to flatten the top. Bake for 45 minutes.

Allow to cool completely. Then, cut it up into slices and place on a serving plate.

For the aquafaba cream you will need 1 cup aquafaba, 2 tbsp stevia, 1 tbsp rosewater and the seeds from a vanilla pod.

Put all the ingredients into a clean glass bowl and use an electric mixer. Beat until the mixture becomes stiff. Spread onto the sponge slices and decorate with fresh fruit. We loved the combination of pomegranates with the mild rose water flavour.

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