We were sent a couple of boxes of hummus last week, and while the jalapeño and roasted garlic flavors were snapped up in two seconds, a couple of tubs remained. Nobody would take them. Nobody would even throw them away! To add insult to injury, they just sat there for days, unrefrigerated and unloved. Now as a rule, we don’t call things gross, because until proven otherwise, no food is inherently gross. Side note: We also received KFC-scented sunscreen that was proven gross. But if nobody in the whole food-loving office would even try the chocolate hummus, do we conclude definitively that hummus was never intended to be dessert?
I realize we just posted a piece about accepting avocado desserts, but that’s because using avocado in dessert doesn’t encroach upon sacred turf. It doesn’t take something perfect and needlessly capitalize on it. It doesn’t take savory and turn it sweet for no reason. Besides, avocado isn’t savory — it’s neutral and frequently tweaked to be savory. It goes the other way just as easily, and the 20 million or so Google hits for “avocado dessert” beat the crap out of the meager 730,000 for “chickpea dessert.”
Here are a few of the ways chocolate hummus is touted as awesome on the interwebs:
- “Chocolate hummus may sound a little strange, but who’s ever met a hummus that they didn’t like?”
- “The holy grail for chocolate lovers.” (This is just patently false.)
- “The 100-Calorie, High-Protein Chocolate Treat Your Body Is Craving”
If you’re vegan, dairy-free or simply practicing the increasingly popular “permissive indulgence” trend that crams something unhealthy into a healthy mold, there are a jillion ways to convert dark chocolate into a dip/spread that don’t drag hummus into the equation. It’s not hard to see the appeal of logically “enhanced” hummus, with the addition of za’atar spice, roasted red pepper puree or kalamata olives. Those ingredients are fellow staples of the collective cuisine hummus belongs to. Chocolate is not. Fact: There are no authentic Middle Eastern recipes that call for sweetening the dish in any way. Maybe you’ll find a recipe that calls for a drizzle of pomegranate molasses, but that is about as “edgy” as authentic will get. Pomegranate molasses, also a staple of Middle Eastern cuisine, is more tart and fragrant than sweet and would effectively serve to pump up hummus’s natural flavor rather than hijack it entirely.
Several brands churn out sweetened hummus, and since they’re still being produced, that means people are buying them. One company, Delighted by Hummus, makes flavors like Snickerdoodle and Orange Dreamsicle. Someone made it onto Food Network by serving their chocolate hummus with candied bacon (granted, it was for a show called Halloween Wars). Others mix peanut butter and chocolate chips into hummus and call it “vegan cookie dough dip.”
Whatever the rationale behind the trend, I continue to advocate for the general cessation of this practice. If you have a defense of sweet hummus that’s better than “Oh, it’s just like chocolate mousse,” let’s get into it. I’ll bring the pita.