After this NY Times article came out last week, those of you who know me well may have guessed that it was only a matter of time before I attempted to make chocolate mousse using canned chickpea liquid.
If you’re COMPLETELY lost right now, let me back up. Chickpea canning liquid — fancy name aquafaba — has been used by vegan cooks as an egg white substitute for decades. It whips up (or so I’ve been told) into a frothy white foam that looks exactly like meringue. It would be so cool — if it worked.
I’d heard of aquafaba before, mostly as a good substitute for eggs in vegan marshmallow fluff. But, quite frankly… fluff is disgusting. So I’ve never attempted that recipe — or anything else involving canned chickpea liquid, for that matter.
And then the Times article came out, and everything changed. It looked so versatile. So magical. So… weird. I had to try it.
The Times article suggests making meringues or vegan mayonnaise with aquafaba, and maybe those would have worked better. But me being me, my mind immediately went to… chocolate mousse. Because… chocolate mousse.
I did not, however, go about this experiment in a very organized fashion. Instead, one morning last week I got up, dumped chickpea canning liquid into a bowl, added a couple spoonfuls of cocoa powder and confectionery sugar, and started whipping.
15 minutes later, I had a little foam. I kept whipping.
Nothing. Just a little froth that immediately deflated when I poured it onto a baking sheet (at this point I’d given up on mousse and was hoping to salvage the foam by making pavlova). Honestly, I couldn’t even bring myself to take a picture of the mess. It was too depressing.
So, back to the the drawing board I go.
I have a few thoughts about what to do differently next time. I could try adding cream of tartar as a stabilizer, just like you would with traditional egg whites. Another thought I had is that I might have screwed up by adding the cocoa powder early. While cocoa powder contains only trace amounts of fat, it is not fully fat free. Egg whites won’t whip up if they are contaminated by even a drop of oil, and maybe aquafaba is the same way.
If I ever master the technique, I’d like to try incorporating real chocolate into the aquafaba instead of cocoa powder. The problem with using actual chocolate in this recipe is that the chocolate will seize when it comes into contact with aquafaba because of the temperature difference. I haven’t quite figured out a solution to that issue yet, but my wheels are turning. I might be able to incorporate the aquafaba into the chocolate slowly, in several batches. If you have any other ideas, please send them my way.
Update 7/12/16: I was finally able to make a successful aquafaba mousse! Check it out here.