Hi! I am resurfacing after a long hiatus in which, among other things, I moved cross country. I am now a North Carolinian! Unfortunately, my kitchen for the last few months has consisted of a temperamental hot plate and a toaster oven, while we remodel the kitchen of our new home, and this has also thrown a wrench in my blogging. But I am the proud soon-to-be owner of a beautiful new kitchen and I am eager to get back to it my cooking and writing!
Recently I picked up the book The Sneaky Chef by Missy Chase Lapine, in an attempt to get more ideas to feed my son, who has become a very picky eater. She spelled out what is actually already my m.o., which is trying to incorporate easy-to-love foods into more suspect ones and vice versa- incorporating nutritious foods into snacks and desserts. Putting an extra egg in pancakes, adding hot chocolate powder to a fruit and veggie smoothie or sprinkling cinnamon sugar on whole wheat bread, etc… Some may find this tactic objectionable, but Lapine advocates for it, saying that avoiding a power struggle, while still nourishing a picky child, is the way to go. (You can push this too far, however. I bought a green powder at whole foods that tastes something like freshly cut grass and he slurped it right up at first and then wised up and stopped.)
This got me thinking about other ways, as she says, to use ‘yummy’ foods to sell ‘yucky’ foods, and I came up with a great one. My idea was to make roasted chickpeas, which I know are delicious, and can be eaten like popcorn, but glaze them with honey or sugar. So this morning, I put a can of chickpeas in a bowl, tossed them with sugar, cinnamon and a dash of oil, and roasted them until sticky and golden. This is what I did:
- 1 can chickpeas, drained and dried with paper towels
- 1 1/2 tbsp sugar (or however much you choose)
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 2 tsp oil
- dash of salt
Preheat oven to 375. Drain the chickpeas and dry thoroughly. Mix all of the ingredients in a small bowl and toss. Line a cookie sheet with tin foil and spread the chickpeas on the sheet. Bake until well-browned.
They taste great this way, but after discussing the recipe with my friend Sarah, we agreed that it could be tweaked even further. I became stuck on the idea that I wanted them crunchy with a little sugar crust on them, like candied nuts. But the moisture from the chickpeas makes this very difficult to achieve and the sugar tends to just get absorbed.
So I came up with another option, but one that might require a trip to a grocery store that stocks Middle Eastern products. If you look in the Middle Eastern bulk snack area (dried fruits, etc) you might just find roasted chickpeas- not to be confused with uncooked dried chickpeas. Roasted chickpeas are already baked and dehydrated, and they deliver a delicious crunch. Once you have these, you can eat them as is, coat in a sugar coating, (recipe follows) or flavor them any way you wish. Cocoa powder or cinnamon would be great additions. If you cannot find roasted chickpeas, you could try dry roasting the chickpeas on a low temperature in the oven for 30 or 40 minutes until crunchy. The trick is getting them to turn crunchy without burning.
- 3/4 cup dry roasted chickpeas
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 2 tbsp water
Add sugar and water to a pan and put over medium heat. When the sugar boils, stir to dissolve and then allow the solution to boil until it begins to thicken. As soon as this happens, add the chickpeas and stir until coated. Very quickly, the sugar will begin to crystallize. You can take it off at this point or wait another moment or two until further browning occurs. Transfer chickpeas to parchment paper or aluminum foil sprayed with nonstick stray. While still hot, break up the chickpeas with a wooden spoon and then allow to cool. The chickpeas will crisp up as they cool.
For a salty option, this is a new take on my grandma Betty’s Ranch oyster crackers that are one of my favorite snacks. (Stay tuned for a post devoted to Ranch seasoning, which I LOVE)
- 1 tsp Ranch salad dressing & seasoning mix
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 tablespoon freshly chopped dill (or 1/2 teaspoon dried)
- 3/4 cup roasted chickpeas
Preheat the oven to 300°F. In a small bowl, add the oil, Ranch Seasoning Mix, and dill. Stir until mixed through. Add the chickpeas and toss until coated. Arrange the chickpeas on an ungreased half-sheet pan in a single layer. Bake the ‘crackers’ for 15 to 20 minutes or until golden.
(Note: The proportions of this recipe might depend on whether the chickpeas are salted. Experiment and adapt to your tastes.)