Replace Flour With Chickpeas For Ridiculously Rich Chocolate Cake

Chickpeas — also known as garbanzo beans — are a kitchen staple often used in savory dishes, but they can also shine in sweet treats. While chickpeas serve as an excellent base for a gluten-free flour substitute, offering a fantastic alternative for bakers catering to those with dietary restrictions, there's no need to hunt for a specialized flour at the grocery store. That can of garbanzos sitting in your pantry is actually the secret ingredient for a deeply delicious and decadent chocolate cake.

These legumes work well in baked goods thanks to their mild, slightly nutty flavor, and their earthiness pairs perfectly with chocolate. All you need is one can of chickpeas to make a nine-inch round cake. Simply drain the liquid, puree the beans in a food processor or blender until smooth, and fold them into your batter. Using whole cooked chickpeas, rather than chickpea flour, adds extra creaminess, body, and moisture to the cake, resulting in a tender texture that highlights the rich chocolate taste.

Benefits of baking with chickpeas

Incorporating chickpeas into your desserts not only enhances flavor and texture, but also boosts nutritional content. Chickpeas are packed with protein — almost 15 grams per cup — and essential nutrients, including manganese, folate, iron, and vitamin B6. They're also high in fiber, which aids in regulating blood sugar levels, and may help mitigate the effects of a post-cake sugar crash. You can blend chickpeas into the batter for various cakes, such as vanilla, spiced, and banana cakes, as well as in other desserts that benefit from a rich, thick consistency, like brownies and blondies.

In traditional flour-based pastries, gluten helps build a network of protein molecules that contributes to an elastic, airy crumb. Because chickpeas are naturally gluten-free, it's important to keep in mind that their use as a substitute results in denser baked goods. This characteristic is especially beneficial for chocolate cake, as it enhances the fudginess of each bite.

Making the most of your full can of chickpeas

You might want to wait before draining that can of chickpeas to start preparing your chocolate cake. That thick, golden liquid they're stored in has a name — aquafaba — and it can serve a wide range of culinary uses. It's particularly helpful in vegan baking. Aquafaba contains substances known as albumins and globulins, also found in eggs, forming a foamy consistency when whipped. For this reason, you can use your chickpea water as an egg substitute in cooking and baking. To make a completely vegan chocolate cake, use the chickpeas and their water, adding about three tablespoons of aquafaba per egg required in the recipe.

If you really want to get the most out of a single can of chickpeas, you can also transform your aquafaba into a delicious meringue to top your cake by adding in some sugar and cream of tartar.