How’s your Latin? You know, that all‑important language that died centuries ago but still serves to provide tuition income to universities and to join theologists, scientists, and medical people by tongue, so to speak, around the world?
The one that has two forms, the vulgar and non‑vulgar? The same language that a hungry vegan software engineer in Indiana named Goose Wohlt called upon just last year when he was coming up with a fancy name for the juice that millions of people opting for a meatless dinner have thrown right down the sink when they could have been in vogue by saving that juice and using it in place of…egg whites?
Yes, egg albumin, that protein‑and‑water concoction that is formed from the layers of secretions of the anterior section of the hen’s oviduct during the passage of the egg (thanks, Wikipedia) and can be whipped into a bad‑boy white froth that forms peaks from soft to stiff, becoming the “backbone” to angel food cakes and lofty puffy omelets…or can be beaten with sugar into a sweet meringue. As in the sky‑high topping on a lemon meringue pie. As in meringues, plural, a sweet, cookie‑like concoction made with egg whites and sugar that are baked until they are firm enough to throw at someone and cause a minor bruise, provided enough force is applied to the pitch.
And now our friend Goose has brought to light the magic of “bean water,” or “faba aqua” in Latin, which words have been reversed to create “aquafaba,” a term now so well known that a Google search of the word, at the time of this writing, finds 314,000 results.
It’s a wonder how something so amazingly simple that could have been invented by our great‑grandmothers has evaded us for so long. When a homemaker in the 1950s was out of eggs and needed to make a lovely angel food cake for her hard‑working husband (while wearing heels and an apron) but couldn’t because she didn’t have a car (didn’t need one; she was a housewife), instead of going around and borrowing eggs from the neighbors, all she had to do was open a couple cans of garbanzo beans (aka chickpeas), drain the liquid into the bowl of her petal pink Kitchen Aid mixer, and go to town on it.
Without much more ado, because I type very fast and sometimes get way out of hand to where I know I came to the computer for a reason but can’t remember what for, I would like to present to you my very first recipe that I can say I actually created myself‑‑well, okay, after someone else figured out how to make meringues from aquafaba instead of egg whites‑‑but this recipe is special. Shoot, maybe even magical.
The first time I made aquafaba meringues, I used a whole can of “bean juice” whipped with a heaping cup of sugar and some vanilla, and I baked them into big puffs so rich and sickeningly sweet that I chose the guilt of tossing food over the guilt of actually feeding the things to someone. And it was back to the drawing board.
I wondered, could this meringue be made with less sugar‑‑a LOT less? And how would I flavor it? To this day I cannot, to save my life, point to the moment the long‑lost genius inside my head dreamed up the idea to intentionally make these little morsels not sweet but actually SOUR. I ran to the kitchen and pulled 150 cans of garbanzo beans out of the cupboard and went to work. My Low Calorie Lemon Drop Meringues recipe was about to be born!
Only a few tries later, I proclaimed victory over the impossible‑‑using just three tablespoons of sugar to create 70 bite‑sized meringue “cookies” with a total calorie count of 160, amounting to just a little over 2 calories per meringue. If I didn’t know any better (cough, cough), I swear a person could eat the whole batch alone and feel only minor guilt. (Yeah, I’m almost certain of it.)
Give these weightless little gems a try, and let your mouth be surprised and delighted! Click Here to get the recipe for low calorie Lemon Drop Meringues.