By Mellisa d’Arabian, Associated Press
I remember the first time my daughter tried lasagna. She loved pasta, yet it took some serious “trust me” coaxing. Today, I’m going to ask you to have the same faith when I share an amazing little recipe for a lower calorie whipped cream, whose main ingredient is garbanzo bean juice.
Still with me? Awesome.
The liquid leftover from the slow cooking of beans and legumes is called “aquafaba” (“bean water” in Latin), and it’s a scientific miracle if you ask me because it whips up into a pillowy fluff in minutes. You probably have some sitting on your pantry shelf this very minute, and you’ve probably been throwing it away all these years. No longer.
Whipped aquafaba has gazillion uses, particularly in the vegan world, where it’s used as an egg substitute in baked goods and meringues. In fact, if you are vegan, you probably consider this to be old news. My personal favorite way to use aquafaba is as a low-cal whipped topping, which can dress up a dessert, or serve as a base for a fluffy mousse (think pumpkin mousse for the holidays).
Dollop today’s recipe, a pumpkin pie spice version, onto a latte, or onto apple or pumpkin pie. A half cup of aquafaba has approximately 50 calories, and it whips up into about 8 cups of topping. Yes, you will want to add some sugar in there so you don’t top your holiday pies with bean-whip, but still, you come out way ahead over whipped cream’s calorie count.
If you are like me, you already have grabbed a can of beans from your pantry to strain and try this out. Here are a few tips from the trenches. Light-colored beans work better than dark beans (like black beans). White beans such cannellini or great northern beans have a milder, less tangy taste than garbanzo beans. But garbanzo beans usually have more liquid in the can, which means one can will feed a crowd.
Aquafaba whipped topping will not be as stable as whipped cream, so add a stabilizer, such as powdered sugar or cream of tartar, and serve it within 30-60 minutes of whipping. You’ll need to whip for a full 10 minutes so a stand mixer is really the way to go. (If the cream does break, however, you can whip it right up again no problem.)
Finally, to address your main concern: you will want to cover the slight bean taste. A mixture of almond and vanilla extracts along with some maple syrup works well, even in small quantities. I think this might become one of your favorite holiday swaps.
PUMPKIN SPICE LO-CAL WHIPPED TOPPING
Start to finish: 10 minutes
Amount: About 8 cups whipped topping
1 can garbanzo or white beans
1/4 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Strain the can of beans, reserving all the canned liquid (called aquafaba, or “bean water”) and placing in a stand mixer bowl. (Use beans for another recipe.) Using the wire attachment, mix on high until very foamy, about 2 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients and whip on high speed until very silky, creamy and firm, about 10 minutes. Resist the urge to stop whipping earlier, as the mixture will be more stable with full whipping. Serve within 30 minutes, refrigerating if not serving right away.
Cook’s Notes: If the the cream sits long enough that it starts to break (like for hours or even overnight), simply whip it back up! You can turn this topping into a pumpkin mousse by mixing in 3/4 cup of pumpkin puree and a little more maple syrup. Spoon into parfait cups. Serve right away, or refrigerate for up to 2 hours.
Nutrition information per serving: 54 calories; 7 calories from fat; 1 g fat (0 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 0 mg cholesterol; 104 mg sodium; 10 g carbohydrate; 2 g fiber; 5 g sugar; 2 g protein.
Food Network star Melissa d’Arabian is an expert on healthy eating on a budget. She is the author of the cookbook “Supermarket Healthy.”