There’s a whole chickpea world out there beyond hummus. From crunchy, spicy snacks to main ingredients in baking and cooking. This is a wonderful ingredient that can adapt extremely well with herbs and spices.
Chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans, grow in hot parts of the world so they are naturally a key ingredient in the cuisine of countries such as India, Mexico, Egypt and the southern part of Italy. Despite their origins, chickpeas are available everywhere, usually in either canned or dried form. There is very little difference in nutritional value between precooked, canned chickpeas and the dried variety you cook yourself.
In our part of the country, I remember these peas/beans first appearing in the restaurant salad bars. Chickpeas were one of several choices set out in bowls to add to salad greens. Then a few years later they became better known when ‘Mediterranean hummus’ became trendy. Then the notion came up to use them in baking. Legumes in cake? Remember the big debate when ‘someone’ decided to put carrots and zucchini in cakes etc. (not to mention tomato soup).
Chocolate chickpea cake has been a success for quite a while now so I decided to try a different take on the idea of the flourless cake.
Apple Chickpea Flan w/ Raspberry Sauce
Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease 4 custard baking cups or a 9 X 9-inch square baking pan.
In a food processor, place applesauce, rinsed chickpeas & eggs; blend until almost smooth, scraping down sides as needed. Place in a large bowl.
In another bowl, whisk together remaining ingredients. Add dry ingredients to wet mixture & stir to combine. Pour into baking dishes & bake for about 50 minutes OR until it tests done with an inserted toothpick.
To make raspberry sauce: In a small saucepan, combine cornstarch, sugar & salt. Add water & raspberries; cook until clear & bubbling. Remove from heat & add margarine & lemon juice & zest. Cool & serve over chickpea flan.
- In place of one of the eggs I used 1 Tbsp ground flax seed plus 3 Tbsp water.
Back in the later part of August (2019), I had made some buns using Teff flour that my neighbor had shared with me. We had really enjoyed them so this is my next adventure using this unique flour.
Just a bit of history — officially the world’s smallest grain, teff is only about the size of a poppy seed. It’s origin is thought to be Ethiopia and Eritrea, where it’s ability to grow in harsh conditions has made it a staple grain of these cultures.
Teff flour is high in protein, iron, calcium and it contains all 8 essential amino acids. This is due to the fact the tiny grains are so small, when they are milled, the hull is left intact rather than removed.
Teff is rich tasting and very versatile, lending a subtle nuttiness and mild molasses-like sweetness to any baked good. Teff grain and flour are good alternatives to wheat, barley and rye for those on a gluten-free diet.
These muffins are an interesting combination of flavors well worth a try.
Pumpkin Hazelnut Muffins with Teff Flour
Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with paper liners.
In a medium bowl, whisk together dry ingredients; set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk together the hot water & ground chia to form a slurry. Add the remaining wet ingredients & beat together using an electric mixer. Pour the wet into the dry & whisk together. Spoon into muffin cups.
Bake about 30 minutes or until test done. Remove from oven & pan; cool on a wire rack.
It’s that time of year when apples (& pumpkins) seem to be everywhere. I think sometimes we get caught up in the abundance of fresh fruit choices over summer that we overlook these precious little gems. I have heard it said that apples are only second to bananas as one of the most eaten fruits.
The fact that they are so versatile, relatively inexpensive, easy to find, available all year round and keep for a long time, what more could we want!
If you plan to bake with them, keep in mind, not all apples are designed for baking. The texture is uppermost important. A good baking apple needs to have a balance of intense sweet-tart flavor as well as not fall apart when baked. Even though some apples are better suited for certain kinds of recipes than others, don’t limit yourself to using just one kind of apple. Using a mixture of apples will result in more complex flavors and textures.
I wanted to make some upside-down cakes with poaching the apple slices in a cinnamon candy syrup. Hopefully it works the way I think it should.
Apple Cinnamon Candy Cakes
In a saucepan, combine water, sugar, cinnamon candies & heat until sugar & candy dissolve. Add apple slices & raisins to the pan & bring to a gentle simmer. Cook for about 5 minutes; drain & return the syrup to the pan. Bring syrup to a boil until it thickens slightly; remove from heat. Divide the apples & raisins between 4 mini bundt pans.
Preheat oven to 375 F. In a bowl, combine all cake ingredients & beat until smooth. Divide mixture over fruit in mini bundt pans. Place pans on a baking sheet & bake for 15-20 minutes or until cakes have risen & are firm to the touch in center.
Remove from oven & allow them to cool in pans for a few minutes. Carefully turn cakes out onto serving plates Top with a dollop of whipped topping & drizzle with cinnamon candy syrup.
For most of us our taste in desserts has evolved from our childhood days. I really don’t recall my mother ever making the classic rice krispie treats — you know the one — chewy, crunchy, marshmallowy! Since she was someone who loved to bake and cook, desserts were the ‘norm’. My dad loved meat, potatoes and sweets, which was all fine being a hard working farmer. It all balanced out, but for us kids, inheriting that love of sweets hasn’t always been a good thing. Nevertheless, like I mentioned, our tastes do evolve.
Quite a few years back, I made a version of rice krispie bars which were called ‘sinless snack bars’. They not only used rice krispies and marshmallows but some more ‘healthy’ ingredients such as flax and pumpkin seeds along with some dried cranberries.
We all know, it wouldn’t be summer without having cheesecake so I’m thinking why not incorporate these two favorites into one. Then take it just a step further and top it with a tropical flavor. I think, this version bridges the gap between a nostalgic childhood treat to an adult indulgence. You be the judge!
Tropical Rice Crispy Cheesecakes
Rice Krispie Base
Line a 9 X 9-inch square pan with foil, leaving a 2-inch overhang on two sides. Lightly butter foil & a wooden spoon. In a large bowl, combine rice krispies, flax flakes, pumpkin seeds,flax seeds & salt. In a large pot, melt butter; add marshmallows & stir with wooden spoon until marshmallows have completely melted. Stir in vanilla then add rice krispie mixture & QUICKLY combine well.
Transfer mixture to the prepared pan; press into an even layer while warm. Let sit at room temperature for about 20 minutes until firm.
MAKE GUAVA GLAZE AT THIS TIME then continue with cheesecake layer.
In a microwave-safe bowl, combine gelatin with 2 Tbsp water; set aside to soften, about 5 minutes. Beat the cream cheese on medium-high speed with a hand mixer until completely smooth, about 1 minute. Scrape down the sides of bowl. Add sour cream, sugar, lemon juice & vanilla. Beat until smooth, about 1 minute.
Microwave the gelatin in 10 second increments, stirring as needed, until it dissolves, 30-50 seconds. Pour the gelatin into cream cheese mixture; beat on medium-high speed until incorporated, about 30 seconds.
Pour the cream cheese mixture over the cooled rice krispie layer. Spread out evenly with an offset spatula. Spoon small amounts of guava glaze to be swirled in a random pattern onto cheesecake batter. With the tip of a knife, swirl glaze to form a pretty pattern. Sprinkle with chopped pistachio nuts.
Wrap the pan loosely with plastic wrap & refrigerate for at least 3 hours or overnight until set. Remove from refrigerator & cut into squares.
In a small saucepan, combine guava paste & water. Place over low heat only until warm to the touch. Transfer the mixture to a food processor & pulse until smooth. Stir in fresh lemon juice.
- Don't hesitate to make these in any shape you choose.
Hand pies are just perfect for this time of year. No fork or plate required —a variety of fresh seasonal fruit available — picnics and barbecues happening. Another great thing is that you can make up a big bunch on a cooler day and freeze them. Personally, I would bake them before freezing so they are ready on short notice but nothing says you have to.
Years ago, hand pies were primarily made with reconstituted dried fruit since fresh fruit is often to juicy to encase it with delicate pastry. Now, a blend of dried and fresh fruit with the help of thickeners can yield a balanced mixture of flavors and textures.
There seems to be various successful ways to go with your pastry from the traditional pie crust to a more biscuit-type pastry. One thing I found that helps to avoid having a ‘gummy’ inside is rolling your dough fairly thin.
When it comes to the filling, I always have the urge to overfill pies, be it full or hand size. Getting it right sure helps to keep them from splitting and leaking.
Hand pies have primarily been deep fried in past but my preference is to bake them. I guess I’ll just never be a deep fried lover of anything. These makes such a nice seasonal combo!
Blackberry-Peach Hand Pies
In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda & salt. With fingertips, cut in cold butter until mixture resembles small peas. In a measuring cup, whisk together water, egg & vinegar. Make a well in dry mixture & pour wet mixture into it all at once. With hands, mix until JUST combined. Roll out pastry & cut 8 - 6-inch circles with a pastry cutter. Lay pastry circles on parchment paper lined baking sheet. Refrigerate until ready to fill.
In a small saucepan, whisk together sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon & salt. Stir in blackberries & peaches. Cook over medium heat until mixture has thicken, about 6-8 minutes. Add vanilla & allow to cool COMPLETELY. In a cup, beat egg with water for the egg wash topping. Set aside
Preheat oven to 375 F. When fruit has cooled, remove pastry from fridge & divide filling between pastry circles. Try to keep the filling in the center, away from the outer edges. Brush a line of egg wash over pastry edge then fold hand pie in half. Use a fork to press the pastry layers together forming a seal to keep fruit from leaking. With a sharp knife, cut 3 vents in each pie.
Brush the tops with egg wash & sprinkle with sanding sugar. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden.
- Frozen puff pastry can easily be substituted for regular pastry if you wish.
- If you wish, use a hand pie cutter for easy assembly.
It’s that wonderful time of year when there is an abundance of fresh fruit available so why not make the most of it?! Peaches are a favorite of mine, not only because of their great taste but they have such versatility in their uses. Just for something different today, I want to take the peach idea in a whole different direction. These beautiful, old fashioned pastries were very popular in the 1980’s. They are known for their unique look that resembles a fresh peach with a flavor that is delicately sweet and buttery. Traditionally served at Italian wedding showers, Pesche (or peach), are now served at any celebration and may be found throughout many countries in Europe.
Peach cookies are two cookie domes, carved on the inside and paired together to hold a dollop of custard. Once assembled, they are dipped in Alchermes, a crimson colored liqueur infused with a blend of anise flowers, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, jasmine, mace, nutmeg, orange peel, sugar and vanilla. These ingredients are stepped in alcohol, which is then flavored with rose water. Alchermes gives these pastries a vibrant pink hue and a unique, light alcohol flavor that combines custard and cookie beautifully. To further enhance the peach resemblance, they are rolled in a sanding sugar.
Alchermes is a very ancient liqueur of Arabic origin. It’s main feature is an unmistakable scarlet color, which was originally acquired by adding ‘kermes’, a scale insect that eat oak trees. Modern alchermes liqueurs no longer use the kermes insect. Alchermes was created in the Frati’ Convent at Santa Maria Novella in Florence, Italy.
These peach cookies are an impressive dessert, perfect for special summer occasions. You can use any filling you choose such as a pastry cream, lemon curd, limoncello or just plain nutella spread. Since it is almost impossible to find the alchermes liqueur in Canada, I’ve listed a few substitutes that can be used instead.
Peach Cookies or Pesche
In a small bowl, combine filling ingredients; stir in reserved crumbs. Spoon into center holes of cookies & press together to form a peach.
In a shallow bowl, combine lemon & peach gelatin powder. Place package of strawberry gelatin in another bowl. Place sugar in a third bowl.
Working with one cookie at a time, spritz cookie with a bit of water. Dip in lemon mixture, then in strawberry gelatin & then in sugar. Spritz with additional water & add more gelatin as needed to create desired 'peach blush' effect. Place on a wire rack to dry for an hour. Attach mint leaves to top of each cookie with additional preserves. Store in refrigerator.
- Alchermes can be substituted for a peach liqueur or Chambord raspberry liqueur. For my peach cookies, I kept it simple & used a combination of jello powders to replicate the traditional idea.