CARMELA HAYES COLUMN: Chickpeas’ secret for amazing biscuits

With the spike and constant increase in home services and food costs, we find ourselves needing to stretch our pennies and almost step back in time to be more frugal in our choices, wants and purchases, writes Carmela Hayes.

By Janet Bew (edited by)
Wednesday, 16th February 2022, 4:56 pm
Updated Wednesday, 16th February 2022, 4:59 pm
These moreish biscuits have a surprising ingredient
These moreish biscuits have a surprising ingredient

Our personal family food shop is high every week and while I’m trying my best to cut back and be a little more selective in my food choices, I do like to have a variety of goods to hand in my larder.

This is a giant wardrobe made by my dad years ago that stands proudly in my kitchen.

I cook for six adults every day and that is always from scratch. The larder is full to the brim with lentils, beans, chickpeas, tomatoes, baking goods, pasta, rice, oils, dried herbs and so much more.

Having a well-stocked larder helps me to rustle up a simple dinner with a few ingredients that can be stretched, for example, a bag of carnaroli risotto rice and frozen peas.

Cooking extras is always a favourite as I adore leftovers more than I do the main event. To be honest, just the word ‘leftovers’ excites me!

The 50 shades of leftovers has a little ring to it, doesn’t it?

I am also well known for my tomato cupboard.

This is the oracle and Aladdin’s cave of tomatoes, be they passata, pelati (plum), cherry or pureed.

Mum always taught me to be well stocked up and I am one that likes to keep mamma happy!

That said, my stash of beans and lentils is another huge love, with chickpeas being the superior pea for me.

As a young girl I would always remember my mum eating chickpeas from the tin with a teaspoon.

She still does this now and seems to have passed on this habit to me.

When she’d finish her chickpeas, she would pour the liquid into stock, soup or tomato sauces to add flavour.

The liquid from the chickpeas is called aquafaba and it is chickpea protein; a great substitute to replace eggs.

Mum would never whip it up though, she would just use it as a liquid.

Whipping it up seemed to be a little revelation to her, many years later.

So, with that revelation, I taught her to make my vegan amaretti.

At home, we call them cucina povera amaretti because the eggs have been replaced with whipped aquafaba and in our opinion they taste amazing!

These amaretti are truly marvellous.

They are so light they are almost pillow-like, but have a great texture and chewy bite to them.

The wonders of aquafaba, chickpea water, is once again astounding as the fluffy whites, when whisked, make these biscuits far better than the standard egg white variety.

They keep well in a sealed container for up to a week and pair perfectly with your morning coffee, or as a welcome pick me up!

Oven: 175C (fan assisted)

Baking tray: Lined with parchment paper

Makes: 25

Ingredients

80ml aquafaba

½ tsp lemon juice

200g ground almonds

125g caster sugar

½ tsp baking powder

Squish vanilla paste

½ tsp almond extract

Icing sugar as required to dust

Method

1. Preheat your oven and prepare your baking tray.

2. Into a clean, oil-free bowl, pour in your aquafaba and the lemon juice.

3. Whisk until the aquafaba has become fluffy and firm, hold the upturned bowl over your head to check (this shows how firm the whites should be).

4. Into a bowl, add the ground almonds, caster sugar and baking powder. Stir to incorporate.

5. Add the vanilla paste and almond extract.

6. Spoon in 2 tbsp of the aquafaba into the almond mixture and stir.

7. Add the remaining aquafaba and stir to incorporate.

8. Form the mixture into

25g balls.

9. Place each ball onto a tray and push down gently.

10. Use all the mixture as required.

11. Dust with icing sugar and bake for 15 – 18 minutes.