Vegans have heralded aquafaba—the starchy liquid produced by cooking chickpeas and other legumes—as the perfect egg substitute, particularly for baking. When whipped, it traps air and creates a lofty foam almost identical to egg whites.
Troy Burke, of Colorado Springs, Colorado, and Nancy Gold, of Cambridge, Massachusetts, wondered whether aquafaba lives up to the hype, and whether it would hold up in recipes almost entirely reliant on eggs for structure, such as macaroons, meringues and hollandaise.
We’d heard the hype and were eager to see how the liquid from canned chickpeas (the most common source for aquafaba) performed. So we tested a few aquafaba recipes.
In our hollandaise test, we found aquafaba produced an excellent eggless sauce when made with an immersion blender. We did need to whip the aquafaba to a foamy consistency before adding the oil in order for the sauce to emulsify. Hand-whisking the sauce also worked, but the immersion blender gave us a better consistency and was far less work.
Aquafaba meringues fared well, too, baking up into pleasant confections that could easily pass for classic meringues. Macaroons, however, were a disappointment. The aquafaba leaked out of the coconut mixture during baking, producing bizarrely misshapen (albeit tasty) cookies.
As for the ratio of aquafaba to eggs or egg whites, while many recipes use the rule of thumb that 1 tablespoon of aquafaba is equivalent to 1 egg, we discovered it’s not quite that simple. Our tests found that while 1 egg yolk could be replaced by 1 tablespoon aquafaba, we needed 2 tablespoons to approximate 1 egg white