Vegan Thumbprint Cookies
These cookies were a total fluke. I will be honest. I was just messing around in the kitchen with a vague idea in my head of what I wanted to make. Did I expect these to work? No. Did they work? Yes!
I have been playing around with chickpeas lately. I bought far too many cans (I am a sucker for sales) and want to make sure that I don’t waste as much food. I used to always throw away the water I drained the canned chickpeas. I am definitely not doing that anymore now that I know I can use that water (also know as Aquafaba) to mimic eggs in recipes.
The protein and starch in the aquafaba is a pretty good mimic of the egg’s role in baking. While I have use aquafaba as a replacement for whole eggs in recipes before, I had not tried to use it in place of whipped egg whites. That’s exactly what we are going to do here.
My goal here was to make an Amaretti cookie, a traditional Italian cookie made from whipped egg whites, almond flour, sugar and occasionally apricot jam.
Whip it, whip it good.
I did not expect the aquafaba to whip up into a meringue-like form. Yes, I knew it could but a part of me thought that I would not be able to do it. But I was clearly wrong. Just like with egg whites, aquafaba needs to be beaten well. If you do not have a hand or stand mixer, you are going to get one hell of an arm workout.
One ingredient commonly added to meringue is cream of tartar. What is cream of tartar? Excellent question. It is an acidic compound that is a byproduct of the wine fermentation process that helps to stabilize and strengthen the egg whites as air is whipped into them. I have also used lemon juice or salt to help stabilize egg whites. Now do I need this with aquafaba? The answer is yes.
I tried to whip the aquafaba without cream of tartar and it just did not get (and keep) the same volume as the aquafaba whipped with cream of tartar. When it doubt, use it. If you don’t have it, add a pinch of sea salt and a spritz of lemon juice.
Remember, use unsalted chickpeas. No body likes a salty cookie.
While I try to avoid using cane sugar as much a possible, sometimes you just need to use it. In this case, I need to use powdered sugar. Normally I only use powdered sugar for making frosting. I tried to make these cookies with cane sugar, but the resulting cookie was a little crumbly and gritty. Not what you want in a cookie.
So use powdered sugar. But make sure that your powdered sugar is vegan and gluten-free. Powdered sugar is a combination of superfine cane sugar and corn or tapioca starch. The starch is what makes it perfect for adding body to frosting or more chew to these cookies.
A great, organic powdered sugar is from Wholesome Sweet.
I recently went on a jam making jag. Specifically a rhubarb-berry jam jag. There was no pectin involved either, unlike when my mom would make jam.
I used 1 cup of frozen strawberries, 1 cup frozen blueberries, 1 long stalk of rhubarb, 2 tablespoons of coconut sugar and the juice of 1 lemon. I brought it all to a boil, turned the heat down and let it simmer for 20 more minutes. Pour it into a clean mason jar, screw on the lid and set in the fridge. And you have jam.
I used my homemade jam for these thumbprints, but use any jam you like or have on hand.
And it is time for cookies.
11/2 cups almond flour
1/2 cup organic powdered sugar (see note above)
1/4 cup cold aquafaba (chickpea water)
1/8 tsp cream of tartar
Pinch of sea salt
1/4 cup jam of your choice
Preheat the oven to 325F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a medium bowl, add the almond flour. Sift the powdered sugar onto the almond flour. Whisk the two together.
In a large bowl (or the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment), add the aquafaba, cream of tartar and salt. Whip on medium-high to high speed for about 5 minutes. You want it to look like soft, whipped cream. When you remove the beaters or whisk attachment from the mixture, small peaks should form and keep their shape.
Gradually add the almond flour mixture to the aquafaba, folding in slowly and gently with a spatula. Continue gradually adding the almond flour mixture until it is all mixed in.
Grab 1 tablespoon size globs on dough, roll into a ball with your hands and place on the baking sheet. Continue until all the dough is gone. Leave 1 inch between each ball.
Using your thumb or index finger, press down gently into the center of each ball of dough, creating a little well. Spoon 1/2 tsp of jam into the indent of each cookie.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the cookies start to turn golden brown.
Let cool completely before digging in! These are delicious at room temperature with a mug of hot tea or the perfect accompaniment to coconut milk ice cream.
Makes 1 dozen small cookies. Store in an airtight container for 1 week.