I almost called these “Unbelievable Bars” because I was completely caught off guard when I realized that they were not only edible, but actually freaking delicious. They get this crackly, brownie-like crust on the top and bottom after baking, but stay extremely moist and almost fudgy in the center, sort of like the texture of raw cookie dough. Not to worry, though– there’s no salmonella or stomachache risk here because there are no eggs in this recipe. In fact, there’s no dairy at all. Oh, and there’s also no flour.
You read right, they’re Peanut Butter Chocolate Chickpea Bars. All of that doubt you’re having about making dessert bars from chickpeas will be replaced with joy the second you sink your teeth into one.
My brother, Mark, avoids gluten for health reasons. There are a lot of really awesome foods that are normally made without gluten: chicken and rice, tacos with corn tortillas, salads, grilled meats, lettuce wraps, and so on. However, when it comes to desserts, pretty much the entire category of “baked goods” is off the table unless you sub in gluten-free flours. And while there’s absolutely nothing wrong with many of the gluten-free substitutes out there today, I wanted to so if I could make a gluten-free baked good using ingredients I already had in my pantry.
I also decided to try to make the recipe vegan while I was at it, because aside from flour, dairy is one of the main components of your typical cookies, brownies, and cakes. I’ve been binge-watching Chopped reruns lately and I’ve been craving a challenge of my own.
I’m going to spare you the story of just how many ingredient combinations I thought about using before the bag of dried chickpeas tucked in the back of my cabinet finally jumped out to me. I’ll just say that I am pretty positive that none of them would have been very good.
But chickpeas– you can do A LOT with chickpeas. They are relatively neutral in flavor, so while they’re typically used in savory recipes, they will work when mixed in with something sweet. In the process of trying to figure out where to go with that information, I remembered that I once ran slightly low on tahini and added a bit of unsweetened peanut butter to my homemade hummus to make up for it. If I made a sweetened version of that mixture, I could create peanut butter cookie bars! … Well, maybe. I wasn’t too confident in how it would play out, but I was damn sure going to try.
I checked online, and of course I’m not the first person (or even the second or third or fourth) who has thought to do that exact thing, which is the case so often when I get pumped up about coming up with something new. Sigh. At least I knew that my idea actually had a shot at working! I took notes from ’round the web and set to work.
The bars would have been great without the chocolate mixed in, but after thinking back to my Flourless Peanut Butter & Dark Chocolate Cookies, I couldn’t resist. I mixed chocolate chips right into the warm batter so that they would swirl in and flavor it all with chocolate while leaving a few chips intact for bursts of gooey melted chocolate in each bite. And because you can never have enough chocolate, I sprinkled some more on top before baking as well.
When all was said and done, I cut up the Peanut Butter Chocolate Chickpea Bars and was happy to see a soft center surrounded by a crisp crust, but still didn’t have high hopes for the flavor. I made James taste test one before I could will myself to try. He took a bite, his eyes got big, and he quickly ate the rest of the bar before snatching up another. He decided to skip a real dinner that night and wound up eating 4 Peanut Butter Chocolate Chickpea Bars instead. I guess they got his seal of approval.
I know that when I finally did take a bite, they got mine.
Now, I’ll be the first to admit that these do have a lot of sugar in them, so they’re not technically healthy. However, one bar boasts 10 grams of protein and 5 grabs of fiber, so I don’t feel so guilty about indulging. You can also easily switch out the brown sugar for date sugar, maple syrup, or baking stevia if you prefer. Gotta have options, right?
Go on, try the Peanut Butter Chocolate Chickpea Bars for yourself and when you do, make sure you take a picture and tag #hostthetoast on Instagram or Twitter to show off those layers of sweet goodness. Can’t wait to check yours out.
- 1 cup dried chickpeas
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- ⅔ cup natural peanut butter
- ¾ cup organic brown sugar (or date sugar)
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¾ cup dark chocolate chips, divided (or vegan chocolate chips)
- Rinse the chickpeas and then place in a large bowl. Cover with 2" of water and stir in 1 teaspoon of the baking soda. Let sit overnight, or for at least 6 hours. Drain and rinse.
- Transfer the chickpeas to a medium-sized pot and cover them with 4" of water. Add the remaining teaspoon of baking soda and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium high and let cook at a vigorous simmer until chickpeas are extremely soft and beginning to fall apart, about 1 hour. Drain.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a large loaf pan with parchment paper and set aside.
- Transfer the warm chickpeas to a food processor and add in all of the remaining ingredients except for the dark chocolate chips. Process until completely smooth. While the mixture is still warm, add in ½ cup of the chocolate chips. Mix well to combine, until the chocolate is beginning to melt and swirl into the chickpea batter.
- Spoon the batter into the prepared loaf pan and smooth the batter with the back of a spoon. Top with the remaining chocolate chips. Bake until crackly and browned, about 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes.
- Let set for 10 minutes before removing and cutting into bars.
Get recipes delivered hot & fresh to your inbox!