Aquafaba literally means bean water — the water that’s drained off neutral-colored beans like chickpeas, white beans and cannellini beans.
Vegans have had limited choices when it came to baked goods. The existing substitutes did not have the chemical properties of eggs which made them integral for binding and leavening. But now there is the perfect substitute, and it’s aquafaba. And it’s blown open the world of vegan baking.
This collection of recipes, however, is not only for vegans. It is great for anyone who has an allergy to dairy and eggs. It’s proof that you can go egg-free and still enjoy delicious recipes. You will never miss eggs again. The general rule of thumb is 3 tbsp of aquafaba equals one egg. The protein in aquafaba, when mixed with some sugar and a pinch of cream of tartar, perfectly simulates egg whites. Neutral in taste, you don’t have to worry about your dishes tasting beany.
All your breakfast and brunch favorites are here–from omelettes, French Toast and pancakes to scones and crepes. You’ll enjoy satisfying and sumptuous Vegan Shepherds Pie, Vegan Mac and Cheese or for lunch or dinner. And you can once again enjoy Alfredo Sauce over your pasta. And the meringue desserts are not to be missed — Fruit Pavlova and Sweet Potato Pie to Lemon Meringue Pie. Chocolate Chip Cookies, S’mores Bars, Snickerdoodles and Chocolate Ice Cream are perfect for those children’s birthday parties where allergies are now a prevailing concern.
Now you no longer have to live without the culinary wonders that eggs and egg whites produce. All you need to do is open up a can of chickpeas, drain the water and you’re ready to go.
Yup, even after writing an entire cookbook about it, every single time I whip some up in my stand mixer, it still feels like a miracle that I can make meringue with a waste product.
Okay! So today’s recipe is a riff on the very first aquafaba recipe I ever made, and for many people, it’s their gateway drug to the aquafaba universe.
I normally make this with melted dark chocolate, and it rocks. But if there’s one thing I love almost as much as dark chocolate, it’s peanut butter. Even better when they are together.
I recently got this powdered peanut butter. I’d been reading about this product for a while, and I was curious about it, and how it worked. Lots of folks in the paleo community are loving it, because it can act as a kind of flour sub, but it also adds protein. I’m simply for anything that tastes like peanut butter.
So I’ve been using it the last couple of weeks in my smoothies (yassss!), but I thought I’d try it in some other things as well. Would it work when added to mousse?
Oh yeah it does!
Vegan Peanut Butter Mousse
1/3 cup aquafaba
1/4 cup organic sugar
1/4 tsp cream of tartar or 1/16 tsp of xanthium gum
Add the aquafaba to the bowl of your stand mixer and attach the whip. Add the cream of tartar or xanthium, and begin to whip at low speed for 2 minutes. Increase speed to medium and whip for 2 minutes more. Slowly add the sugar in a stream while whipping, and then turn the speed on high for 2 minutes. Check the mousse at this point, you should have nice stiff peaks. If not, whip it a little longer on high. Remove the bowl from the mixer.
Sift the peanut butter powder into the mousse. Carefully fold it in using a spatula. Spoon into glasses, then allow to set up in the refrigerator for at least a couple of hours. Best if eaten fairly quickly–the mousse will start to deflate after a day or so.
Last summer, when I was in the UK, I was staying with my friend Jeremy about an hour outside of London in Brighton.
I set aside one day to take the train in and explore my favourite places in London; I had lunch at Nopi (an Ottolenghi dream come true), I shopped on Oxford Street, I hit the Tate Modern. You can watch my vlog from that day here.
Later in the day, I had dinner with my friend Shae, who was from Vancouver, but had been living in London for about a year at that point. Shae and her friend had just arrived back in London from a quick trip to Portugal, and they brought back with them a sleeve of Portugese tarts. She gave me two; one for me, one for Jeremy.
I ate them both on the train on the way home.
I have no regrets.
(I did buy Jeremy a makeup tart the next day, though).
What is it about Pastel De Nata? If you’ve never had one, a Portugese Tart is ostensibly quite simple: a flaky tart pastry shell, filled with an egg-based custard. But in this case, the whole is so much greater than the sum of its parts. They’re sweet, and flaky and creamy. They’re served traditionally with a sprinkle of cinnamon, which brings additional warmth to a pastry that is already incredibly comforting.
So, of course as soon as I came home, I made it my business to suss out the best Portugese Tarts in Vancouver. Turns out, they’re hard to find. It’s more likely you’ll find their Asian cousin, the Egg Tart at one of our many Asian bakeries around town. I know I have personally enjoyed the tarts at T&T, and pretty much whenever I go out for dim sum.
As it turns out, the Chinese Dan Tat is really more of a descendant of the Pastel De Nata. By all reports, Europeans introduced the egg-based tart to Hong Kong in the early 1900’s.
Portugese vs Egg Tarts
So, what’s the difference? First off, the crust of a Portugese Tart is more akin to a croissant than a pie crust. The Chinese version has two varieties of crust: one more like a pie crust, and the other more like a shortbread cookie. In addition, the Portugese version is sweeter, more vanilla-y, and the Chinese version tastes eggier. The Portugese version is also puffier, and will have dark caramelized spots on the top, which you would never see on the Chinese Egg tart. That’s the best way to tell the two apart.
Okay! Let’s get to the good stuff. If you want to partake in one of these goodies for yourself, where can you get your mitts on Portugese Tarts in Vancouver?
Michele Cake Shop, 6033 West Blvd
This one is kinda two-for-one, because they sell Pastel De Nata and egg tarts side-by-side, so this is really the best place to try them both and compare.
Fortuna Bakery Ltd, 4240 Hastings St
Tucked away way up in Burnaby Heights, Fortuna is an old-school Italian/Portugese bakery. They have deli, bread, the whole works. The tarts here will set you back a mere $1.50, but they were my least favourite of all the ones I’ve tried so far.
The Union Market, 810 Union St
Look, if you haven’t ever been the Union Market, well, you haven’t lived, my friend. The Union is the gem of Strathcona, part grocery store, part bodega/deli. They sell killer coffee, lots of tasty soups and sandwiches, and yes, some of the best Portugese Tarts in town. Be prepared to make friendly with the neighbourhood cats and dogs which will no doubt be hanging out there.
For my money, these guys are making the most authentic Portugese Tart in town. However, they can be a bit hard to track down, as they are an online business most of the time. In the summer, you can find them on weekends peddling tarts outside Urban Grill Sushi. Follow them on Instagram for info.
Have I missed any? I know there were a couple of other places that served them, but they seem to have shut down. Let me know in the comments below so I can add them to my list!