Photo illustration by Meggan Davis
I think some of us just might divide time into two categories: after we learned that the liquid in canned beans had miraculous properties, and before, when we (the horror!) dumped it down the sink without a second thought.
That liquid, known as aquafaba (a fancy-sounding word that humbly translates to “bean water”) can do all sorts of kitchen magic tricks. First and foremost, it functions as an egg white substitute. Whip a small, murky puddle and in minutes you’ll have a mountain of white fluff. Add chocolate and let it set and before long you can enjoy delicate chocolate mousse (read on for how to do that!).
Aquafaba can also save your soup. If you need more broth, or want a thicker broth or just want a little more something, pour in the bean water! Devotees turn aqaufaba into mayo and meringues, and more. There is even a Facebook group dedicated to aquafaba experimentation, and a website soliciting donations for further chemical analysis of this beany super water.
For now, let’s start with my go-to: Aquafaba Chocolate Mousse. And this one comes with a little disclaimer. I’m still perfecting this recipe, so if you find a way to improve it let me know! The ongoing challenge is maintaining an even texture (i.e. zero separation, equal mixing) while it’s setting in the fridge. I've gotten mixed results on the texture, though I guarantee that it always tastes great!
Aquafaba Chocolate Mousse
Water from one can of chickpeas - about one cup
Half to 3/4 a bar of baking chocolate (about 2 ounces). Use whatever kind of baking chocolate you’d like and sweeten accordingly. I use unsweetened chocolate and add sugar while making the mousse.
4 tablespoons of cream (this works out to 2 ounces to create a 1:1 ratio with the chocolate)
2 tablespoons brown sugar (or less, depending on if you’re using sweetened chocolate)
Honey. Either instead of the brown sugar or for drizzling on later to add sweetness
Acid. I use 1 teaspoon of lemon juice. You can also experiment with cream of tartar or another acid, which helps stabilize the foam.
1. Break the chocolate into pieces and use incremental microwave zaps to melt it.
2. Pour the cream into the molten chocolate and stir until well mixed. Set aside so it can cool a bit.
3. Drain the aquafaba into a large mixing bowl (setting aside the chickpeas for another recipe, of course :-), may we suggest Deli Panzanella?). Make sure the bowl and utensils are free from any grease or soap residue, as they can mess with the foaming action.
4. Add the acid.
5. Use an electric whisk or mixer to create the foam. This requires a little patience (it can take several minutes), but soon enough you’ll see the aquafaba grow before your eyes. You’ll know it’s ready when its volume has increased dramatically, it’s turned white and it barely shifts when you move the bowl.
6. Check on the chocolate and make sure it’s still melted, and, ideally, not too warm. Fold the liquid chocolate into the foam until everything is evenly mixed.
7. Fold in the sugar.
8. Cover and put in the fridge to set for several hours, ideally over night.
9. Offer the bowl and whisk to husband for licking.
10. Spoon into little dishes and savor your spoonfuls of chocolate clouds.