Aquafaba

Egg-allergy sufferers and vegans can now have their cake and eat it too. Aquafaba, the liquid found in canned beans, serves as the unlikely base for a whipped ingredient gaining popularity as a substitute for egg whites. For the first time ever, vegans (or anyone else who does not eat eggs) can indulge their sweet tooth for marshmallows, macarons, ice cream, brownies and of course, lemon meringue pie.

Aquafaba was “discovered” In 2014, when a French chef found that combining the bean liquid with sugar, cornstarch and guar gum produced a foaming agent with a consistency similar to meringue. In March 2015, a U.S.-based vegan-food experimenter started making vegan meringue from the bean liquid alone and called on his 58,000-member vegan Facebook community, ‘Vegan Meringue,’ to experiment with aquafaba.

Fast forward to 2016. Not only does aquafaba have its own Wikipedia entry, but there is a website ‘www.aquafaba.com’ dedicated to its history, uses and nutritional value. The word ‘aquafaba’ comes from the Latin words for “water” and “bean.”  According to the aquafaba website, one tablespoon of chickpea liquid contains 3-5 calories. Using different beans or soaking your own beans may affect the calorie count.

The simplest way to make meringue from aquafaba is to drain a can of chickpeas, strain the liquid through a fine mesh sieve to remove any bean particles and whip as if you were making egg-white meringue. Use three tablespoons of liquid for each egg white.

Marla Hertzman (www.lovetheycarrot.com) and I spent an afternoon in the kitchen playing around with chickpea water and we were pleasantly surprised at how easy it was to whip up. We created this Lemon Meringue Pie, based on a recipe by Lazy Cat Kitchen.

 Crust:

2 cups walnuts

Pinch of salt

2 tbsp coconut oil, melted and cooled

2 tbsp honey

15 dates, pitted

Combine ingredients and press into a pie plate.

Filling

½ cup cashews, soaked overnight

½ cup plus 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice

5 tbsp maple syrup

2 tsp cornstarch dissolved in 1 tbsp water

Turmeric, optional for colour – we used about 1/4 tsp

1 tbsp lemon zest

Rinse soaked cashews and place in a blender with maple syrup and puree until smooth. Pour this mixture into a pot and warm gently, stirring constantly. Mix cornstarch in water and add to pot. Bring mixture to a boil and allow it to thicken.  If using turmeric, add to pot.  Add lemon zest and mix well to combine.  Pour into prepared crust and allow to cool.

Meringue

½ cup chickpea water

2 tbsp coconut sugar

In a large glass bowl beat chickpea water until peaks start to form. Add sugar gradually and adjust to taste. Continue beating until the peaks become stiff. Spoon the meringue onto cooled lemon curd and place under the broiler until it turns brown. Let pie stand for a few hours before serving or place in the freezer to firm up.

I served this pie to my family without telling them what the meringue was made from and they absolutely loved it. Honestly, my daughter had 3 pieces!

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