The Secret To Healthier Baking: Chickpeas

By Lisa Elaine Held

Cauliflower may be the trendiest do-it-all plant food, but chickpeas are not far behind when it comes to kitchen versatility.

You already know you can turn them into hummus for snack time, throw them in salads or veggie chili for dinner — now, you can incorporate them into better-for-you sweet treats.

“I was really interested in moving desserts in a more healthful direction, especially moving away from bleached, all-purpose flour and refined sugar,” says Karen DeMasco, pastry chef at Marco Canora’s health-focused restaurant Hearth. “I’m thinking about using better flours and sugars as ingredients that really bring something to the table.”

Chickpeas — in the form of chickpea flour — fill that measuring cup perfectly for her, since they deliver fiber, protein, and important vitamins and minerals, while cutting the need for processed white flour.

Chickpea flour “lends itself to baking because it’s sort of rich and nutty and has a warm flavor to it, and it’s dense and sturdy, so it holds things together in a good way,” DeMasco explains. And while the flour works wonders, you can also utilize the regular chickpeas themselves by blending them into gluten-free baked goods like brownies.

Ready to go garbanzo? Follow these tips from DeMasco, and then try out her Chickpea and Oat Flapjacks recipe, below.

Blend It: If you’ve got a dessert recipe you love, sub in chickpea flour for 40 percent of the flour the recipe calls for, leaving the other 60 percent as all-purpose flour. “When you use it straight on its own, it can be grainy, and you might not get the texture you like,” she warns. You can also blend it with other healthy flours, depending on the recipe. She likes to blend it with rye flour when making cookies, or you can buy pre-blended flours that incorporate chickpea.

Go Strong: Don’t try to do pair it with a more delicately flavored ingredient: “Chickpea flour pairs best with strong flavors like chocolate and molasses, so the nutty flavor doesn’t take over.”

Get Gooey: Blending in mashed chickpeas in place of flour works best for brownies and blondies. (Try Ambitious Kitchen’s popular recipe, for example.) Chickpeas “have that starchiness, so they’re going to bind things together, especially something that has that gooey consistency,” DeMasco explains.

High-protein pancakes made from chickpea/garbanzo bean/gram flour topped with mangoes.

Originally published at Clean Plates.