Hold the phone.

There are plenty of reasons why you should make these cookies. I’ll get to their deeply satisfying, intensely chocolate taste and brittle crumb later. But first we must address the sheer novelty in their construction. It’s best to just come out and say it.  They are made with bean juice instead of egg. I apologise for the use of the phrase bean-juice. There is something squelchingly wrong about it.

Yet, this is sheer genius. You know that gloop in a tin of chickpeas or white beans? The stuff that in every single slow carb recipe I’ve ever written I tell you to rinse off down the sink?

Stop. Stop doing that. Because it turns out that it is one of the few egg substitutions that will actually whip like egg whites. Friends, allergics, vegans, country-men- the domain of crunchy biscotti, meringues and marshmallow-fluff is yours again.

This discovery harks back to the work last year of Joël Roessel, a ténor from France first published on his blog at revolutionvegetale.com which was then picked up by Goose Wohlt, a software engineer in the US. He publicized his successes with meringues on the facebook site ‘What Fat Vegans Eat’ (yes, really) and soon a sub group of happy experimenters were born. Considering how unappetising ‘bean juice’ sounded, a new name was coined for the ingredient. Introducing; aquafaba.

It is magical madness at first sight. But soon this wizardry starts to make sense. The slippery feel of aquafaba has the same textural properties as egg white. There are also plenty of proteins in that liquid, thanks to the cooking of the pulses.  There are of course some tips and tricks to getting the best results. The first is that baked goods should be cooked at low temperatures and for a long time. I’ve found 100C/212F for an hour for cookies produces the best results- and for very crunchy cookies it’s best to let them cool in the oven.

The second is to have patience when whipping. Depending on the strength of your beaters, it can take a while to get a cloud like consistency. The good thing, unlike egg whites is that you don’t seem to be able to over-whip them.

And the third is, to get the best shapes it pays to transfer the batter into a piping bag.

Like the magical white and black bean cakes on this site and in ‘Cut the Carbs’, I find this ingredient works best when paired with bold flavours. Chocolate is a natural friend.

And so, I present to you crunchy, indulgent and satisfying biscotti, made from something you’d normally pour down the sink.

I love these cookies. I love them for their thrift. I love them for how they taste with an espresso, or smashed over ice cream (or avocado chocolate mousse if you were feeding vegans or dairy free) or sandwiching cream cheese frosting or nut butter. I love them for their innovation and the fun you can have with ‘guess the secret ingredient’ to unsuspecting guests. I  love how I now have something to feed those with egg intolerances in my midst. 

And I love that something as simple as the juice from a can of my ever-faithful pulses has got me this excited about being back in the kitchen again.

Magical Egg-Free Chocolate Biscotti

Makes approx 20 small cookies

Shopping/foraging

100 ml aquafaba (approximately the liquid from one 400 g tin of chickpeas/white beans. Try collecting the liquid after you’ve used a tin of beans and keeping it in a jar in the fridge)
30 g cocoa powder
100 g ground almonds/ground hazelnuts
50 g raw sugar, ground to icing sugar consistency in a blender, or 50 g icing sugar
Pinch of sea salt

Method

1) Preheat oven to 100C/212 F and line a large baking tray with baking paper.

2) Add the aquafaba to a stand mixer or place in a clean bowl with an electric whisk. Beat for 4-10 minutes, until you have a fluffy mass that resembles whipped egg whites. (Thermomix instructions- use butterfly whisk on speed 4 for 4 minutes).

3) Add a tablespoon of sugar  and beat for another minute or two. Continue adding a tablespoon at a time and beating in between each addition.

4) Fold in the cocoa, ground almonds and salt. Fold to combine.

5) Transfer mix into a piping bag with a wide crimped nozzle.

6) Pipe the cookies into circles 4cm in diameter. Bake for 1 hour at 100C/212F, then turn off the oven and leave for another hour.

7) Transfer cookies to a tupperware. They will keep for 5-7 days.