The Aquafaba Files is a Tenderly recipe series by Laura Vincent, exploring the almost suspicious versatility of this ingredient that is little more than the leftover liquid from a drained can of chickpeas.
This was intended to be a sorbet recipe, but the aquafaba had other plans. Traditionally, egg whites are added to sorbet, to improve its texture upon freezing. With this in mind, I figured folding some whipped aquafaba into a quickly-made berry syrup would produce a summer-ready sorbet — imagining the air bubbles suspended by the the protein in the aquafaba would mellow out the ice crystals formed by the water content of the fruit and syrup.
Instead, I opened the freezer to find the mixture had turned into the most fluffy, lush, instantly scoopable berry ice cream. Now, I love sorbet — but this culinary serendipity was pretty exciting.
Unsure if this was just a fluke of science, I made another batch. Again: fluffy, soft, juicy-sweet ice cream. The aquafaba was too powerful to be held back by any water content — not a single ice crystal in sight, just airy clouds of creamy smoothness. Did I mention all this was achieved without milk, without nuts, and most importantly — without an ice cream maker? All you have to do is freeze it! Your perfect summer dessert awaits.
No-Churn Berry Ice Cream
Makes: around 1½ pints of berry ice cream
- 1½ heaped cups frozen or fresh mixed berries (I used blackberries, raspberries, and blueberries)
- 1½ cups sugar
- ¼ cup water (for frozen berries — if using fresh, up the water to ⅓ cup)
- 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- ¾ cup aquafaba (this should be the quantity drained from one 15oz can of chickpeas — fine if it’s a little over or under)
- a pinch of salt
- Place the berries, one cup of the sugar, the water and the lime juice into a saucepan. If there’s any juice left in the limes, squeeze it in.
- Bring the mixture to the boil, stirring often, then lower it to a simmer and let the mixture bubble away for a full seven minutes, stirring often and pressing the berries against the side of the pan with a wooden spoon to crush them.
- Stir the salt into the syrup, then remove the pan from the heat and keep stirring to cool it slightly. I then sit the pan in the sink which I’ve filled with about an inch of cold water, just to bring its temperature down further while I get on with the aquafaba.
- Place the aquafaba in a mixing bowl and start whisking. Once it’s turned pale and opaque, start adding the remaining half cup of sugar a little at a time, whisking hard between additions. Keep whisking until all the sugar is incorporated and the mixture is thick and billowing. You’re done when you can raise the whisk up out of the bowl, and the mixture follows it upwards in a peak, and holds its shape for a moment or two before sinking back down slightly. You can absolutely use electric beaters here if you have them, but a whisk works just fine.
- Stir a large spoonful of the aquafaba mixture into the berry mixture to soften it, then spatula all the berry mixture into the bowl of aquafaba, folding it together. The mixture will deflate a little — this is fine! — but should be quite thick and mousse-like, and a glorious pink color.
- Spatula this mixture into a prepared freezer-safe container. Cover the container and refrigerate it for two hours, then freeze for six hours or overnight. No need to stir or blend it — but don’t skip the fridge step! Your ice cream should be ready to scoop immediately from the freezer, but if need be, let it rest for ten minutes on the bench before serving.
Replace the berries with the roughly chopped flesh of a ripe mango (this should equal about 1½ cups). Once the syrup is cooked, use a potato masher to thoroughly crush the mango into the syrup. Because mango is particularly sweet, even with the lime, I recommend a good pinch of citric acid stirred in at this point. Proceed then with the recipe above.