By Michele Roger, Food Writer at
Aqua-Faba is Aqua-Fabulous
As the holidays approach, the family cook begins to roll their eyes and wrack their brains. Checking over the growing list of RSVP’s, you begin to wonder who is gluten intolerant? Was it Uncle Bill who had the great shellfish allergic reaction of 2012? Just about the time you have a list of dishes that avoid all of the pitfalls of dietary requirements, the phone rings. Your favorite niece is bringing her newly engaged fiancé to meet the family, could you please add one more? “Oh, and by the way,” she adds, “we have both become vegetarians.”
Before you cancel dinner, set your oven on fire or skip making a trifle and just pour yourself a fishbowl glass if the sherry, stop and think. Most vegetarians (people who eat vegetables, dairy and often eggs) and vegans (people who eat only vegetables and plant based products) are not out to ruin your family holiday. They often understand that they will be eating the side dishes. Nice person that you are, you want to make something nice for them, a nod to their chosen dietary way of life.
While the savory dishes are fairly easy, you can roast any vegetables in olive oil and garlic and pretty much make a vegan happy. Vegetarians will happily enjoy the sweet potato casserole and the mashed potatoes. The trouble is surprisingly in the dessert department. If your dinner guests are vegans, they won’t be able to enjoy pumpkin pie (eggs), ice cream or whipped cream (dairy). This is where Aqua-faba comes in.
It sounds mysterious or genetically modified, but ironically, the average cook has probably been throwing it out for years. Aqua-faba is the liquid from cooked chick peas. If you’ve ever made hummus from canned chickpeas (garbanzo beans), you probably poured the liquid down the sink and proceeded with your recipe. No longer! Aqua-faba is a thickener and better yet, an egg replacement. For you, holiday host, that is great news. Meringue Cookies are now in your future.
In my recipe, I’ve added rum for flavoring. You could add, vanilla, powdered cinnamon, peppermint extract, the sky is the limit!
Vegan Meringue Cookies
3/4 cup (roughly) of juice from one can of cooked chickpeas (aquafaba)
1 cup of sugar
1 Tbs rum
Preheat your oven to 250 degrees F. Beat aquafaba in a mixer until it begins to form soft peaks. Add sugar slowly. Once the meringue is glossy and stiff peaks form when the beater is removed, stop the mixer. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Drop teaspoonfuls of meringue onto the sheet, leaving a dollop or curl at the top. You could also pipe the meringue with a pastry bag and tip for a fancier look. Place in the over with the door shut for 15 minutes. Turn off the oven after 15 minutes and leave in the oven for another 5 minutes. Remove and cool.
Michele Roger is a Senior Food and Travel Writer for SEARCH magazine (www.searchmagazine.net). She writes the food blog, “Oui, Michele” atwww.cookwithmichele.wordpress.com. When she isn’t writing or cooking, she is a harpist who teaches and performs in the Detroit area.