If you're vegan, chances are you've had difficulty finding the right egg substitute for baked goods. Vegans across the globe have tried everything under the sun to mimic this 'incredible edible' consistency - from specialty egg replacers, to flax seeds and silken tofu. So when we heard that people were using juice from cans of chickpeas, we were skeptical. As it turns out, this seemingly unappetizing bean brine creates the most airy and decadent concoctions. The liquid is called Aquafaba and it is the secret sauce for achieving the perfect peaks of meringues, the ethereal crunch of macarons, and the utter divinity of a Belgian waffle. Better yet, it comes from something that would otherwise go down the drain.
Isn’t it rather preposterous to think throughout these years of pouring chickpea brine down the sink, we were wasting a valuable staple? Nearly every chickpea recipe calls for draining and rinsing the hearty bean before use. But now that we’ve discovered its boundless potential, a whole new world has presented itself.
Chickpeas are an excellent and cheap source of protein, which makes aquafaba arguably the perfect egg substitute. According to Aquafaba.com (the official aquafaba website) the verdict is still out on the liquid’s nutritional makeup and what exactly makes it such an effective egg replacer. Experiments reveal that aquafaba is an emulsifier, a leavening agent, and a foaming agent. Just by looking at it, one can ascertain the consistency is more in line with egg whites, while lacking the sticky, drippy consistency of yolks — hence its ability to produce such delicate meringues and other desserts as light as air.
Derived from the latin words for “water” and “bean,” aquafaba has been bopping around the internet for years, but is just starting to become a popular ingredient in mainstream kitchens. Much of the issue with its nutritional credibility as an egg substitute lies with the lack of funding for research. Authors of the official Aquafaba website even ask for donations, saying that, “all proceeds will go towards an official nutritional analysis.”
Nevertheless, scientific inconsistencies haven’t prevented anyone from mimicking eggs with chickpea brine, and successfully at that. Aquafaba is not limited to sweetened confections either. There are a number of savory recipes, including vegan mayonnaise, mozzarella cheese, and even butter, which benefit from its inclusion.
But don’t take it from us — it’s all about experimenting yourself. The next time a recipe asks you to drain your chickpeas, considering saving some for dessert.
Lead image via Shutterstock