A few weeks back I shared on Instagram (@littleprairiekitchen) my experimentation with chickpeas. Specifically I focused on the water left behind in the cans after the chickpeas were drained out. I did put those yummy little gems to good use, but I was more interested in the bean water.
My family does not have much in the way of allergies or specialty diets, so I’m not usually too concerned with alternate ways to make our favorite foods. In the past year or so I have seen articles and links popping up about the use of chickpea juice (called aquafaba) to make a whipped cream like topping for desserts or to make meringues with. Many folks who did not eat dairy or who had an intolerance were excited that maybe they could enjoy whipped cream again. I was curious because when I drain chickpeas to use, the juice the chickpeas are in looks like cloudy water and it is hard for me to see it becoming whipped topping. So I had to try.
I like to make homemade hummus so I always keep a can of chickpeas in my pantry at the ready so I grabbed that and separated the chickpeas from the juice and carefully saved the juice in a bowl. To ensure I did not waste the yummy chickpeas, I made a seasoning of my favorite spices, patted the chickpeas dry, gave them a toss in the seasoning with some olive oil and roasted them until crispy and yummy. Having taken care of the chickpeas, I was free to turn my attention to the aquafaba and making a batch my dairy-free meringues.
Most of the information I found online stated to leave the juice at room temperature and to whip in a stand mixer or by hand rapidly for 15 minutes. I was skeptical of the room temperature theory since when making traditional whipped cream, we usually ensure that the bowl, whisk, and the cream are very cold by putting the utensils in the freezer before use. Since I had never worked with aqafaba before, I decided to believe the internet experts and left it at room temperature.
I poured the bean juice into to my KitchenAid, cranked it up to 6 (medium high) and let it go to town. After about 10 minutes of mixing, I was getting a little concerned for my motor but did notice that the greenish water had turned white and was beginning to get a bit of a froth to it. I kicked the mixer up to high and let it go for 5 more minutes. The results were impressive, but not what I had read they would be. The juice had turned pure white and was definitely a LOT thicker than when it started but I saw none of the “stiff peaks” I was told would form on this. Since I’ve never worked my mixer this hard (even for regular whipped cream) I was not comfortable pushing the limits anymore for today but I decided to see if I could make meringues with this cream like topping despite not reaching “stiff peakness”.
The very basic recipe I found called for adding sugar and almond extract to the mixture so I did this, revved the KitchenAid up on medium for a few more minutes and then decided to test it. The mixture I found was at best was soft and marshmallow-like. The online instructions stated they would stand well when you dropped them onto a parchment paper lined baking dish but the mixture I was facing lacked some serious stand. But determined to see this through, I preheated the oven, lined a baking sheet with parchment paper and began to drop spoonfuls of the mixture onto the baking sheet.
Well, from the very first drop, I knew I had failed as they ran all over, caved into little sad puddles and just looked a bit like white poops. Since I had come this far and knew I could just throw the whole parchment mess away if necessary, I baked them in the oven for the minimum amount of time stated on the instructions I found and when they came out, they were brown and gold, flat, sticky burnt pieces of sugar. Oh what a fail indeed!
It was so bad I did not even bother trying to take a photo of it. It was just sad. The only little silver lining? If you could get past the flat sugar blob appearance, they actually pretty good. It was sweet and sugary and there was no way you could tell that the base for this was bean water.
So overall I was impressed with how such a simple item that most of us throw down the drain can be repurposed and made into something sweet, tasty and so far beyond what you could imagine it to be. I surely need to do a bit more experimentation with mixing time and temperature to get a perfect meringue from bean water but I’m happy that I tried, despite the flat, sticky mess I left behind ;)
Happy Friday all!!