Aquafaba -- How chickpea water is changing the game

1:55 PM

I am currently in awe... and I'm not even vegan.

Pretty recently chefs and food bloggers have been going nuts over a discovery that the icky liquid you drain from a can of chickpeas can actually be used as an egg replacement. The result has been incredible vegan mayos, meringues, macarons and pavlovas.

Guys, you can make vegan wonders WITH CHICKPEA WATER.

You can't deny, the game is changed.

Last month, Pickles n Honey posted a drool-worthy recipe that uses just a handful of ingredients in addition to aquafaba. Plus coconut whipped cream. I'm in!

Who knew that the liquid from a can of chickpeas, the stuff we've been pouring down the drain, was the secret to perfect vegan pavlova? This stuff is an exact match for egg-white based meringue. You'll never want to throw away your chickpea brine again.
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: Vegan, Gluten-Free
Serves: 1 large or 6+ individual pavlovas
for the meringue base:
  • brine from one 15-ounce can of unsalted or low sodium chickpeas (I used Trader Joe's organic), chilled
  • 1 cup vegan fine white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon arrowroot powder
  • pinch fine grain sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
for the topping:
  1. Preheat the oven to 275°F. Trace an 8" circle on a piece of parchment paper (I used a cake pan as a guide). Flip the parchment paper over and line a baking sheet with it. In a small bowl, mix together the sugar, arrowroot powder and salt. Set aside.
  2. Pour the chickpea brine into a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer. Beat at low speed, then slowly increase the speed to high. Beat for 5 minutes, until soft peaks have formed and the mixture has become very light and fluffy (it should expand to more than quadruple in size). Turn the speed down to medium-high and start adding the sugar one heaping tablespoon at a time. Once all of the sugar has been added, increase the speed back to the highest setting. Continue to whip until stiff, glossy peaks form and hold their shape (about 3 minutes). You should be able to hold the mixing bowl upside down and have the meringue stay in place. Stop the mixer and pour in the vanilla and vinegar. Beat for another 10-15 seconds until incorporated.
  3. Use a spatula or fill a piping bag (fitted with a large star attachment to create lines) and place the meringue onto the prepared baking sheet in the center of the circle working outward. You'll want to do this immediately after whipping the meringue so it doesn't deflate. If using a spatula, spread the meringue to fill the circle. The edges should be higher than the center to make a nest for the filling. To do this, simply pipe an extra round or two around the edges, or if using a spatula, take a spoon and gently create a well in the center. You can smooth out the sides or leave them as-is for a more rustic pavlova.
  4. Put the meringue in the oven to bake and immediately turn down the heat to 250°F. Bake for 2-2.5 hours, or until the outside is dry to the touch and ever so slightly browned. The pavlova should sound hollow when very lightly tapped. Turn off the oven, leaving the pavlova inside to cool completely.
  5. Just prior to serving, spread the coconut whipped cream over the pavlova and top with your favorite fruit. Serve immediately.
*Edited to add: Based on comments, this seems to be a recipe that can be a bit temperamental. I've tested it nearly ten times now, and it's imperative that you follow the ingredients, amounts for each (don't reduce the sugar!), and instructions exactly. A few more key notes: when you whip the chickpea brine for the first time, it should resemble shaving cream in texture, and when you whip in the sugar, the "stiff, glossy peaks" should be very thick and similar to fluffernutter with a definite sheen. If you're not seeing this, keep whipping! Finally, people seem to have an easier time making smaller pavlovas (6+ instead of 1). The smaller the meringues, the less bake time you'll need. I suggest 1.5 - 2 hours if you divide the mixture to make 6-8 meringues.*

I tried making this with room temperature chickpea brine and chickpea brine that I chilled in the fridge. The chilled brine is 100% the way to go. It produces a significantly more fluffy meringue that holds its shape much better.

You can make individual meringues or pavlovas. Simply pipe the meringue into smaller circles and reduce the baking time accordingly. I found 1 hour 30 minutes to work well for 6 smaller pavlovas. Just make sure that when you check on them, you use the oven light rather than opening the door. This will keep the temperature from dropping.

This recipe also makes a killer vegan fluff! Skip the baking and enjoy it right away on a peanut butter sandwich, or bake half into pavlova and save the other half to use as fluff. It makes a ton.

Feel free to replace part or all of the vanilla extract for other flavored extracts. I made some with half vanilla and half almond extract and they were insanely good.

I recommend serving your pavlovas with unsweetened or very lightly sweetened coconut whipped cream and some tart or bitter fruit to balance the sweetness of the meringue. I used berries and figs for mine, but I have a feeling kumquats would be amazing.

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