Cookie dough, blondies, and meringue don’t normally bring chickpeas to mind. Anyone who has ever enjoyed a smear of hummus on a cracker or carrot stick knows they can be blended or processed into a creamy spread, but due to their mild taste, chickpeas can be used for healthy sweet treats as well.
Also known as garbanzo beans, the round legume is an excellent source of molybdenum, manganese, copper, iron and zinc. They also contain a large amount of fiber, most of which is insoluble fiber that supports healthy blood sugar regulation and intestinal walls. And like other legumes, chickpeas are also a great plant-based source of protein.
Many gluten-free bakers utilize chickpea flour in their recipes, but whole chickpeas can be used to make desserts as well. Who needs dairy and eggs when creamy chickpeas can be used instead? Here are some sweet ideas that may surprise you with their unexpected ingredient of chickpeas.
One of the joys of making cookies is eating the dough. With non-vegan treats, one runs the risk of Salmonella that may be present in raw eggs. Using chickpeas instead provides a texture that is similar to actual dough and a healthy option that’s free from worry.
Chickpeas provide bulk and creamy texture when blended or processed. Add a little nut butter to make it even creamier, and a sweetener to make it delicious. Egg-Free Cookie Dough uses coconut sugar, but you can substitute with anything you’d like. Also, feel free to experiment with other ingredients besides chocolate chips. Maybe fresh or dried berries, carob powder or spices.
Cookie dough may be fun for eating straight out of the bowl, but what about using it as a dip instead? Even better when paired with crunchy brownie brittle. Made the same way as the previous recipe, Cookie Dough Dip makes use of creamy processed chickpeas and nut butter. It’s a fantastic dish when served on a fancy platter, more pleasing to the eye than the mixing bowl. You can also freeze the dip for later use. Once frozen, it can even be made into fudge by cutting it into pieces.
While it’s always fun to be able to eat raw dessert dough right away, chickpea-filled desserts can be baked as well. Tender and moist in the center with a crackly crust, Cinnamon Chickpea Blondies are sweet and best of all, healthy. Packing extra protein and fiber into desserts is another excellent reason to use chickpeas in your sweet treats. In this recipe, the chickpeas are processed with cashew butter, old fashioned oats, and coconut sugar, and then baked in a brownie pan. Omit the cinnamon and add cacao or carob powder to make brownies instead, or alter the spices to make gingerbread or snickerdoodle bars.
Macarons became trendy a few years ago. They utilize egg whites for their light and fluffy texture, and there really wasn’t a good vegan replacement available until just recently: aquafaba! Aquafaba is not chickpeas itself, but rather the liquid left over in the can, aquafaba is the newest idea to replace eggs in baking, and can make your desserts fluffy and light.
To prepare aquafaba, simmer until it reduces and then refrigerate overnight. Later, use a stand mixer to whip the reduction with sugar until it forms stiff peaks, just like you would with egg whites. Mix with flour and a sweetener and bake to make the shells.
Raspberry Rose Macaroons utilize this trick to achieve the light, crispy taste. Another tasty macaron recipe that uses aquafaba, French Macarons also includes raspberry extract and elderflower liqueur to make them extra special. You don’t have to be held to raspberry, though, and other extracts like orange or almond could be tasty as well.
While much is still unknown about aquafaba (including why it works), it can be used in many recipes where egg whites are needed. And since sugar is key in getting those stiff peaks, you’ll want to follow the recipe at least once for practice before you start experimenting.
Meringue without egg whites was once thought nearly impossible, but can now be made with aquafaba. For Vegan Meringue, use the same process as the macaron recipes to whip it up. Use as a topping or a filling. You can even top off your blondies with it!
Aquafaba may not contain the same amount of protein and fiber as the actual chickpea legume, but it is natural and a better option than processed vegan substitutes. Scientists are still trying to figure out why it works the way it does, but be glad for now that someone discovered it!
Whether you like your chickpeas savory or sweet, there are delicious options for both. Best of all, you’ll be able to shock your loved ones when you reveal the healthy dessert you share with them contains no eggs or dairy … but does include a can of beans (or at least the leftover liquid).
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Lead image source: Cinnamon Chickpea Blondies