When you get a flash of genius for something like, say… caramel coated chickpeas — and can’t find a single hit on Google under the term, don’t take this as a challenge. Take this as a hint. There is a reason no one makes them. I’ve seen the evidence. Right in my kitchen.
The moisture in the chickpeas makes the caramel coating slide off, leaving you with naked legumes and a glob of hard caramel in the bottom of the bowl. If you cook the chickpeas in the sauce pan along with the caramel, believe me, the sugar will never set — ever. Even if you boil the stuff for half and hour then bake it for just as long. If you try roasting the peas first? I suspect they’ll burn. I’m not sure. I ran out of chickpeas and patience.
Having gone from a triumphant wheat-free pizza crust, to a perfectly acceptable pasta substitute, to the total defeat with my candy-coated garbanzo beans, I realize the road less travelled is usually deserted because it’s not very navigable. Caramel-coated chickpeas are not going to lead to fame and a new culinary craze. Instead, scattered along their rarely walked path, you’ll find a cup of wasted brown sugar and a crackly mess a chisel barely dents.
Next time I get need a sugar fix, I’m making caramel corn.
Prior to my confectionary chaos, I played with an old sneak-some-fibre-into-your-diet-treat and roasted savory chickpeas to crunchy perfection.
Well, maybe not perfection. But they’re definitely crunchy. And when munching on goober peas isn’t an option — whether it’s for your waist line or because of allergies — chickpeas will satisfy the need without racking up the calories or making you pull out the EpiPen.
Do they taste like peanuts? No. Are they just as addictive? Their crunch is. I ate half the bowl last night without realizing it.
Yes, but are they delicious? That depends. Again, we’re taking a relatively neutral base and adding the flavours we fancy. Andrew likes his snacks salty and spicy. So I created him a hot chili version. Being partial to herbs myself, I tinkered with a fresh thyme and lemon mixture. While it looked good on paper, the flavours didn’t translate well. Yet, thanks to the incredible crunch factor, they disappeared.
As a high-fibre, protein-rich, low-fat, hyphen-laden treat, roasted chickpeas aren’t bad. Keep in mind, their appeal lies in the crunch and what you put on them.
And so, here is my final substitute for the week. Next week, it’s back to food without subterfuge — and maybe some honest to goodness caramel corn.
Before I give the recipe, has anyone had luck with non-nut crunchy treats?
Spicy Roasted Chickpeas
Makes about 1 1/2 cups
If hot and garlicky isn’t your thing, omit the garlic and substitute freshly ground pepper for the chipotle chili powder.
- 1 (12 oz.) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 clove garlic, crushed
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp chipotle chili powder (more if you like it really hot)
- Preheat the oven to 375F.
- Drain and rinse the chickpeas. Pat them dry on a couple of dish towels.
- Heat a pan over medium-high heat. Add olive oil and gently saute the garlic until it softens, being careful it doesn’t brown.
- Mix in the salt and chipotle chili powder. Toss in the chickpeas and continue to cook for 2 or 3 minutes.
- Spread the hot chickpeas on a rimmed cookie sheet or baking pan.
- Cook 30 to 35 minutes, checking them frequently in the last 10 minutes because they will burn quickly.
- The chickpeas are done when they are crunchy but not burned. (Note: If they aren’t cooked enough they will have an unpleasant semi-firm texture. Return them to the oven until they CRUNCH, but keep an eye on them since they go from gold to garbage in minutes.)