I'm serious, you guys. This buttercream is made with a most unusual ingredient: chickpea water. Loveletter Cakeshop of NYC went ahead and answered a question I didn't even know I had for this week's #whathappenswednesday: what happens when you make buttercream from chickpea water?
When Brandon Baker (real name, not kidding) of Loveletter Cakeshop reached out to me asking if I'd like to share a recipe for this unusual buttercream featuring "aquafaba" (yes, that is the official name for chickpea water), I was intrigued. When he sent it, I simply knew it had to be featured on the site.
I'll let Brandon take it from here. Here's the good word on chickpea-enhanced buttercream, according to Loveletter Cakeshop:
Aquafaba buttercream: what's the deal?
Everyone deserves a good birthday cake. Except, vegans are probably the only subset of the population that has a pretty hard time finding one. Are you keeping Kosher? No problem. Just vegetarian? Done. Vegan? Hope you like Crisco!
As a vegan myself, eating vegan cake has been an exercise in futility and disappointment, as most vegan cakes taste like grease-slathered cornbread. C'mon, this is my birthday! I deserve better, don't I? Well, thanks to Aquafaba, vegans worldwide are finally getting their cake and eating it too.
Aquawhaba? Let me explain. The word “Aquafaba” stems from the Latin words for “bean” and “water”, and you'll soon see how this magical ingredient is able to produce the most delicious vegan buttercream you've ever had. It's so good, you'll be able to serve it to a wedding party of 200 guests and no one will be able to tell the difference. Go ahead, just ask me how I know.
Warning: if you're a novice baker, this recipe is quite involved. There's melting, there's boiling, there's freezing, and you'll probably mess up a few times before you get it right. This isn't a throw-stuff-in-your-mixer-and-beat-it kind of recipe. But the results are so, so worth it.
Best of all, you can take this foundation and build on it in an infinite number of ways. Want a vegan mocha buttercream? Add espresso. Want a vegan chocolate buttercream? Add melted chocolate and soymilk. Just want to eat frosting by the spoonful? Hey, it's your party big boy.
Let's get to it.
Aquafaba Buttercream: Recipe
Adapted from Loveletter Cakeshop's Vegan Swiss Meringue Buttercream
- 1 cup (220g) food grade cocoa butter (melted)
- 1 cup (220g) palm oil (melted)
- 1.5 cups Aquafaba (the liquid from approximately two cans of chickpeas)
- 3/4 cups granulated sugar
- 1/2 tsp cream of tartar (optional)
- A splash of soy milk/almond milk
- An ice cube tray (or two)
1. Place cocoa butter and palm oil in separate bowls. Place bowls over hot water to gently melt the oils.
2. When oils have completely melted, combine them and whisk vigorously with a fork until fully incorporated
3. Pour your oil mixture into an ice cube tray and freeze for 30 minutes to an hour.
4. Sift your sugar and cream of tartar into a bowl and set aside.
5. Now it's time to reduce the Aquafaba. Pour your bean juice into a pot and set it on the stove on medium high. You’ll want it to reach about a quarter of its original weight or volume, whichever method you prefer. If you've got a good eye, you can eyeball it. This will take about 15 to 20 minutes.
6. Add your sugar and cream of tartar immediately after removing the aquafaba from the stove. The more thoroughly you mix at this stage, the silkier your buttercream will be.
7. Pour your mixture into a the bowl of a stand mixer. Whip for 6 minutes or until you've reached a stiff meringue. When in doubt, keep whipping. It's hard to overwhip this meringue. Set aside.
8. Open up your freezer and test your oil mixture by touching it with your finger and ensuring it's rock hard. If it is, remove your tray from the freezer and let it thaw.
9. Here's the crucial step. You're going to throw your oil “cubes” into the meringue, but not until they've thawed enough for your finger to make a dent in them when you press into one. In my experience, it takes about 20 to 30 minutes of sitting at room temperature before your oil is ready. If you wait too long, your buttercream will be soupy and melted, and if you don’t wait long enough, your oil cubes won't incorporate properly into the meringue. (This is the only difficult step in this recipe, so if you've got this one down, you're nearing the finish line.)
10. When your oil cubes are ready, throw them into the meringue and mix on medium until your buttercream is smooth.
11. If your buttercream seems too thick, add your soy milk / almond milk very, very slowly until you've got the consistency you're looking for. If you add too much, your buttercream will become too runny, so take caution.
11. Pat yourself on the back and breathe a sigh of relief. You've made it!
I understand not everyone runs a commercial bakery and has cocoa butter just lying around the kitchen. It's OK. You can make this recipe using straight palm shortening, but you may have to fiddle with the proportions to make sure your buttercream is stiff enough. And you'd probably want to omit the milk at the end.
Fair warning: this recipe made with 100% palm shortening won't taste nearly as good as a 50/50 blend with cocoa butter. You know how delicious white chocolate is? It's essentially just sweetened cocoa butter with vanilla and milk added in.
If you're committed to the cocoa butter, you must make sure that you're buying FOOD GRADE cocoa butter. If it doesn't specifically say the words “Food Grade,” assume it's not. And if you want a more neutral flavor, use deodorized cocoa butter.