Hummus sweetens its game

By Bill Colvard -
A bowl of Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Hummus is like cookie butter with no death threat, and it has four grams of protein. Eat it with a spoon, dip it with a gingersnap, a pretzel, or maybe an orange slice. Depends on how healthy you want to be. - Bill Colvard | The News

There are hummus purists who take great umbrage at adding anything to hummus besides the obligatory chick peas, tahini and olive oil, maybe a little garlic, salt and pepper. So much as a roasted red pepper or a little sriracha sauce can send these purists over the edge. Imagine how they are going to feel upon discovering hummus has been expanded to include dessert versions that are more or less cookie dough.

They are not going to be happy. But everyone else should rejoice. Because when did you ever run across cookie dough with no fear of salmonella, no fear of bacteria and isn’t going to bust your new Year’s resolution if any shred of it is still hanging on.

Because we’re talking about a dessert that has less than 200 calories — sometimes way less — and has, on average, four grams of protein. Four grams of protein in a dessert. Let that sink in. Depending on how the math is done, that’s about 9% of a day’s recommended intake. In your dessert.

Now it’s hard to make the case that a foodstuff consisting of what is essentially glorified cake batter is a ‘health food,’ but it’s hard to overlook a dessert with four grams of protein per serving when one is attempting a healthier lifestyle.

As the purists will tell you, hummus is essentially chick peas, tahini and olive oil. The chick peas are where the protein is, so if you keep that and switch the tahini and olive oil out for, say, melted chocolate, and then add the least unhealthy sweetener you can come up with, you’ve got chocolate hummus. Or chocolate dip, if you want to keep it’s health upgrade a secret to any hummus purists lurking nearby.

Depending on what you use as a delivery system to get it into your mouth, this is a dessert or snack that shouldn’t be too guilt-inducing in your pursuit of a healthier lifestyle. Those delivery systems include, but are not limited to, strawberries, orange slices, cookies, pretzels, apple slices, bananas, pita chips, rice cakes, crackers, animal crackers and graham crackers.

Many of the recipes that follow come from sources advocating one particular eating plan or other. Some are vegan, some are gluten-free, some eschew dairy, some are “real food,” and some other other plans that are supposed to get you healthy. So, if you see a recipe that calls for coconut milk or almond milk, and you are neither a vegan nor lactose-intolerant, there’s not a reason in the world you can’t use regular milk if you’ve got some in the fridge.

Likewise sweeteners. None of these recipes use regular white sugar. And you probably shouldn’t either. It would probably be kind of grainy, since there’s no cooking and there’s no chance for the sugar to melt. But brown sugar should work fine, if you blend it up good. Some folks believe honey and maple syrup to be healthier options than white sugar, and they’re used in a lot of these recipes. But you don’t have to use them. They both do taste great, though. Also, there’s no need to buy turbinado sugar, or stevia, or truvia, or whatever, just because the recipe says to use it. If you feel it’s better for you, go for it. If not, use something else. This is not rocket surgery. But if honey or maple syrup is the only liquid in the recipe, you’ll need something to loosen up the consistency, if you substitute a solid sweetener.

If you’re after a really thick, cookie dough consistency, a food processor works better than a blender. You’ll just need to keep scraping the batter down so the blades can get at it.

If you’re cooking your own chick peas, cook them a little softer than normal so they’ll blend up easy. If you’re using canned, they blend up creamier and smoother if you heat them up a touch. (That’s also a good tip for regular hummus.)

Some of the recipes that are going for a cake-batter consistency use a little flour. Bear in mind uncooked flour can have some bacteria issues. It’s one of the reasons cookie dough gets such a bad rap. But it’s a very small amount, probably less flour than you’d get licking the spoon after mixing up a cake. Choose your own risk tolerance.

And if you want to get super-indulgent, whip up a batch of S’mores Hummus. That’s a chocolate-y brownie-batter-like hummus that you cover with miniature marshmallows and brown in the oven. Or better yet, spring five bucks on one of those disposable butane torches that they sell in the aisle of the grocery store that has cigarettes. They’re probably being marketed to the users of some illicit drug or other, but don’t worry about that. It will be super s’mores-y to fire your hummus with a butane torch. It’s the next best thing to a campfire. Then just dip in with a graham cracker and enjoy. The kids will love it. Adults will love it. And only you will know that every toasty, melty-marshmallow, s’mores-y serving has 5 grams of protein. (You get a bonus gram for every graham cracker.) A gram for a graham. It doesn’t get any better than that.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Hummus

1 can chick peas

1/2 cup peanut butter

1/4 cup maple syrup or honey

1/2 cup chocolate chips

Drain the chick peas, then add chick peas, maple syrup and peanut butter to blender. Blend until smooth. Fold in chocolate chips once hummus appears to be a thick, smooth consistency. Add more honey or a few tablespoons of water to mixture if too dry while blending. Eat as is with a spoon, dip with fruit, cookies or pretzels, or roll into balls and chill in fridge for a bite- sized crowd-pleaser.

Chocolate Brownie Batter Hummus

1 15 oz. can garbanzo beans, drained

4 tbsp. coconut milk, from a can or a carton

5 tbsp. raw cacao powder (or cocoa powder)

3 tbsp. maple syrup, more or less to taste

1 tbsp. olive oil

1 tsp. vanilla extract (optional)

1/4 tsp. salt

Add all the ingredients into a food processor and process until smooth, scraping down the sides as necessary.

S’mores Hummus

1 15 oz. can chickpeas (drained, rinsed and dried)

3 tbsp. coconut sugar or cane sugar

2 tbsp. maple syrup

2 tbsp. cocoa powder

2 tbsp. almond milk

1 tsp. vanilla

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1 cup mini marshmallows (vegan and gluten-free, if needed)

graham crackers (for serving)

Pre-heat oven to 350°F. Place all ingredients except marshmallows into a food processor and process until smooth and creamy. About 3-4 minutes. You can stop here if you want a chocolate-y brownie batter hummus dip. For s’mores, place in a small baking dish, cover dip completely with mini marshmallows and bake for 10-15 minutes or until marshmallows have puffed up and turned golden brown. Remove from oven and serve immediately with graham crackers.

Chocolate Hummus

15 oz. can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed

3 oz. dark chocolate, melted

3 oz. milk chocolate, melted

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1/4 tsp. salt

Blend the garbanzo beans and melted chocolate in a food processor until well combined. Scrape down the sides to make sure everything is incorporated. Add vanilla and salt. Process until the spread resembles a finely ground hummus.

Banana Hummus

15 oz. can chickpeas, drained

3 frozen bananas

2-3 tbsp. protein powder

2-4 tbsp. almond milk (add until desired consistency is reached)

1 tsp. vanilla (or almond) extract

1-2 tbsp. coconut sugar or similar sweetener (optional)

Throw everything in a blender or food processor and combine until smooth.

Pumpkin Pie Hummus

1 -15.5 ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed well (or 1½ cups cooked)

⅔ cup pumpkin puree

⅓ cup Greek yogurt

¼ cup pure maple syrup (brown sugar can also be used)

2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice

¼ tsp. cinnamon

Slightly overcooking and blending the chickpeas when warm (not hot) will help the dip blend and overall, create a smoother dip. if using canned chickpeas, slightly warm them first (they should not be hot). In a food processor or high speed blender, layer the pumpkin puree, Greek yogurt, maple syrup or brown sugar, and spices. Pulse until combined. Add the chickpeas and process until creamy. If you are using a high speed blender, start on low speed, slowly working up to medium speed and blend until creamy. Let cool until ready to serve. Store in the fridge for up to 3-5 days (if it lasts that long).

You can use brown sugar in this dip if you’d like. You’ll have to add more than ¼ cup and adjust to taste since brown sugar isn’t as sweet as maple syrup. If you have trouble blending it, add 1 tablespoon of milk at a time – but not too much since you don’t want the dip too liquid-y.

Cake Batter Hummus

1½ cups cooked garbanzo beans or 1 -15-16 oz. can cooked garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed 3 times

¼ cup flour

2 tbsp. sugar

1 tbsp. maple syrup

1 tbsp. vanilla extract

¼ tsp. baking powder

⅛ tsp. salt (optional – omit if you’re using beans that are salted, but taste at the end and add if desired)

1-2 tbsp. milk

sprinkles (optional, for serving)

In a blender or in a food processor, combine all the ingredients except milk. Puree until the mixture is smooth, about 30-60 seconds. Add milk 1 tablespoon at a time to create the desired consistency. Taste and add salt (if desired). Adorn with sprinkles, if desired, for serving.

Red Velvet Cookie Dough Hummus

1 -1/2 cups chickpeas (drained and rinsed very well)

1/8 tsp. plus 1/16 tsp. salt

tiny bit over 1/8 tsp. baking soda

1 tbsp. vanilla extract

1/4 cup nut butter

2 tbsp. maple syrup

1 tbsp. dark cocoa powder

Few drops red food coloring

1/4 – 1/2 cup truvia (depending on how sweet you want it)

2 tbsp. oats

Up to 1/4 cup almond milk, only if needed

3 tbsp. mini dairy-free chocolate chips

Combine all ingredients in a blender, except chocolate chips. Puree very well. May need to use a spatula to move mixture around. Add milk to help combine mixture if needed. Once pureed very well, taste for sweetness. If you want it sweeter, add more maple or stevia. Transfer to mixing bowl and fold in chocolate chips.

Snickerdoodle Dessert Hummus

2 cups chickpeas , canned or cooked dried ones

¼ – ⅓ cup coconut milk

¼ cup cane sugar, or turbinado

2 tbsp. tahini (you can use cashew butter or almond butter instead)

1 tbsp. vanilla extract

2 ½ tsp. ground cinnamon

¾ tsp. salt

½ cup coconut sugar, (if you use another sweetener, start with less and add more if needed)

1/4 tsp. cream of tartar (Cream of tartar is optional. It gives that distinctive Snickerdoodle tang. If you have some use it, but if you don’t, you don’t need to buy it.)

Rinse the chickpeas very well under running water, then place in the bowl of a food processor or blender. If you have a high powered blender like a Blendtec or Vitamix, they give extra super smooth hummus results. Add all of the other ingredients, using just ¼ cup of coconut milk and blend until completely smooth. Leave it running for a good few minutes to get the smoothest possible results. Add a little more coconut milk gradually to get the desired thickness. It will firm up slightly in the fridge so bear that in mind. It can be served immediately but it is best if chilled for a little while. Store in a sealed container in the fridge. Will keep for up to a week. It can be frozen. Once defrosted, it might thicken up a bit so just loosen it by adding a drop of coconut milk or water and stirring well.

A bowl of Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Hummus is like cookie butter with no death threat, and it has four grams of protein. Eat it with a spoon, dip it with a gingersnap, a pretzel, or maybe an orange slice. Depends on how healthy you want to be. bowl of Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Hummus is like cookie butter with no death threat, and it has four grams of protein. Eat it with a spoon, dip it with a gingersnap, a pretzel, or maybe an orange slice. Depends on how healthy you want to be. Bill Colvard | The News

By Bill Colvard

Reach Bill Colvard at 336-415-4699.

Reach Bill Colvard at 336-415-4699.