~ Dense, moist, crumbly and chewy like a “typical” blondie recipe, but these healthy Peppermint-White Chocolate Chickpea Blondies are secretly lower in fat, and higher in protein and fiber! They’re delicious year ’round, with a fun flavor combo that’s just perfect for the holidays. BONUS: They freeze well, too – so it’s easy to keep a stash on hand for a nutritious indulgence any time! ~
This Recipe Is: • Ready in 30 Minutes or Less • Freezable • Make Ahead • Vegetarian •
These delicious bars have so much going for them!
- A festive peppermint flavor that’s perfect at the holidays (although … watch out … they’re addictive, and you’ll crave them all year ’round!)
- Lots of creamy white chocolate
- A crumbly, cake-y, moist and dense texture that’s oh-so satisfying!
- 100% whole grains (nope – you can’t taste ’em!)
- Protein and fiber from nutritious chickpeas (won’t taste those, either!)
- WAAAAAY less butter than in “traditional” blondie recipes – and less sugar, too (you won’t miss them, though!)
- Super easy to make
- Can even be made ahead and frozen!
They’re little dynamos, and we’re head-over-heels for them for so, so many reasons!
Maybe the biggest reason of all, though, is …
A Diabolically Creative Health-ification Secret!
A couple of years ago, I decided that, although I adored baking chocolate chip cookies (like for real, they were my favorites!), I just couldn’t feel good about all the butter, saturated fats, sugar and simple carbs loaded into most “traditional” recipes.
Luckily, I love baking (I even attended a week-long pastry and baking camp this summer!) … and I love a good challenge!
So, I set out to find a way to make healthier cookies. A way to have fun baking delicious cookies I could later feel good about eating.
And … I found it!
First off, I tried a couple of go-to techniques our family typically uses in making a sweet, white-carb-loaded baked good healthier. I reduced the sugar (which, surprisingly, you can almost always get away with doing). And I swapped out regular, all-purpose flour for white whole wheat flour. Easy-peasy. You wouldn’t know the difference!
But here’s where it gets really good …
After a lot of tinkering, I managed to slash the 1 cup (1 cup!!!) of butter that you find in most similar “traditional” recipes to just 2 tablespoons, while still maintaining wonderful flavor and texture. Turns out, the way to reduce the butter so dramatically was with an ingenious replacement that includes just a little butter …
… blended into (surprise!) a creamy chickpea puree in our favorite little mini food processor! (Cut to my assistant holding up a “Clap Now” sign in the background.)
It might sound weird (trust me, I thought so at first), but fear not! It really does work beautifully!
There’s still just enough butter flavor throughout these blondies, so you don’t miss the buttery decadence. And, you gain lots of terrific nutrition (like protein and fiber) by adding in those chickpeas (stop worrying! – you seriously won’t taste them – or even know they’re there at all)!
My whole family was swooning at how delicious my diabolically creative cookies were (cue the “Clap Now” sign again) – and we were gobsmacked over the great little trick I used to make them healthier. We wanted more! So I kind of went a little crazy from there, trying tons of different variations and flavor combinations (hint – more Chickpea Cookie recipes ahead)!
And we could barely wait for the holidays to roll around this year so we could share my Peppermint-White Chocolate version with all of you! It’s definitely one of my personal favorites from the different variations I’ve tried so far!
But … getting that cookie post ready for you didn’t quite go as easily as we expected. (Cue the suspenseful music: dunh dunh duhhhhhhh …)
Healthy Blondies … A Calamity (That Turned Out Awesome!)
We were all set one day last month, ready to photograph those yummy little Peppermint-White Chocolate Cookies for you. So excited! Mmmmmmm … those cookies …
They were just so good, every time.
They were perfect, in fact – a no-fail winner.
Until they weren’t. Suddenly, the cookies just didn’t work.
The white chocolate chips kept falling out of the cookie dough. Those chips just weren’t sticking in there properly at all! I mean, if you tried really hard, you could still shape the dough balls and force them to work … but at THK, we’re all about things that are easy and quick – and definitely aren’t HARD to do.
WHAT WAS GOING ON?!?!
Picture family-wide kitchen panic – horrified screaming! flour thrown in the air! (just kidding, but still) – as we all try to sort this out before the teeny-weeny bit of photo-worthy natural light is completely gone from our gray and wintery Ohio sky … and we don’t have any cookies to photograph for you. *GASP*
Turns out, it was the Nestlé brand white chocolate chips that were causing the problem! We have no idea why exactly (and don’t get me wrong, I still love some good ol’ Nestlé chocolate), but they just aren’t happy hanging out in this dough the way Ghirardelli chips are. Weird, right?!? Who woulda thunk it?
Apparently, all along, I’d tested my Peppermint-White Chocolate Chickpea Cookie recipe with Ghirardelli chips, and it never occurred to anyone that using Nestlé instead – which is what we happened to have in our pantry that fateful day– would make any difference at all.
Once we figured out the problem, we were still left with a pretty big issue: how could we salvage the batch of dough filled with all those uncooperative Nestlé chips?!?
Drumroll, please …
Aha! Out of frenzied kitchen panic came inspiration … in the form of these BLONDIES! Yay! (Just like with our Elvis Smoothies, sometimes the best recipes are born out of utter calamity.)
On a whim, we gave up on trying to shape that naughty dough with those Nestlé chips into little, perfectly round cookie balls, and instead smoothed it into a baking pan – just to see what would happen.
And we were kind of blown away when we saw that it transformed perfectly into delicious blondie bars, exactly right on our very first go. Hurray!
Since then, we’ve baked even more batches of these chickpea blondies (and our chickpea cookies, too!), in just the last couple of weeks. They disappear fast! YUM! And, we knew we had to share this healthy blondie idea with all of you, too, along with the recipe for those cute little cookies.
Pick whichever you prefer – blondies or cookies – depending on which brand of white chocolate chips you happen to have, or what type of dessert vibe you’re aiming for.
Now, don’t think of these blondies as the “cheater version” of my cookies … think of them as their casual, laid-back buddy (you know … like the super-chill cousin everyone loves). Absolutely perfect when you don’t have time to mess around with forming round cookie shapes (no matter how perfectly you planned your day so you’d have boatloads of time to turn on some Christmas music and bake up a leisurely batch of holiday joy). Or, when you simply need a bar cookie recipe to take along to a potluck or bake sale. Brilliant!
Seriously – you’ve gotta try it to believe it!
Here are a few tips, and you’ll be on your way in a jiffy! Off to make your new favorite blondies! 😉
Tips for Great (Healthy!) Chickpea Blondies
Baking time – Your exact baking time can vary a bit depending on the type of pan you have (glass vs. metal vs. stoneware) and on how precisely your oven is calibrated. What you’re looking for in terms of doneness is for the blondies to be very lightly golden, just a tad darker at the edges.
The top should be puffed and dry, without signs of moisture pooled around the chips that are poking through the top. A toothpick will come out clean. Basically – you want them to have a delightfully moist and dense interior with a slightly crumbly texture. Don’t over-bake them, or they’ll be dry.
Cutting – It’s best to wait until these are completely cooled to cut them (I know, I know … it can be tough to wait – but try really hard!) A little tip I’ve picked up on is that evenly cutting these types of blondies and cookie bars is a breeze with a handy measured cutter (like the one pictured at the back of this photo):
With the handy measurements along the blade and the nice, straight cutting edge, it’s easy to cut precise lines and evenly sized blondies.
Making These Ahead – Of course, these blondies are at their absolute best when they’re fresh. But they’ll last just fine sitting out on the counter, tightly covered, for a day or two. Any longer than that, though, and it’s a good idea to wrap them up and store them in the refrigerator.
What’s extra-great about these is that they also freeze well. You can even make a double batch and freeze one pan entirely uncut! We recommend wrapping them tightly in plastic wrap to prevent them from drying out, and freezing the wrapped cookies in air-tight zipper bags.
Perfect at Christmas … or ANY Time!
With their festive peppermint flavor, these bars are perfect for the holidays. But if you love mint-flavored desserts as much as we do, you’ll no doubt be craving these all year through!
And hey … if you took our advice and froze part of a big, double batch, you can pull one out any old time you need a virtuous little treat! No reason to save something this terrific just for the holidays, right?!? 😉
- 2 1/4 cups white whole wheat flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup organic or reduced-sodium chickpeas (garbanzo beans), rinsed and drained
- 3 tablespoons canola oil
- 2 tablespoons butter, softened
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon peppermint extract (not mint or spearmint)
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup white chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 375°F.
In a small bowl, combine flour, baking soda, and salt, whisking to combine thoroughly.
In a small food processor (we use the smallest container in our Ninja set), combine chickpeas, oil, and butter. Process until smooth, scraping bottom and sides as necessary to make sure no chunky bits remain.
Transfer buttery chickpea mixture to a large bowl. Add sugar, peppermint, and vanilla. Use a hand mixer to beat until smooth. Add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Then, gradually beat in flour mixture in three or four additions. Beat just until thoroughly combined.
Stir in white chocolate chips.
Press the dough into a 9x9 baking pan (lightly coated with cooking spray, if needed – if using a stoneware baking pan like I did in the photos, you will not need to grease the pan). Smooth the top with a rubber scraper.
Bake until lightly golden brown (just slightly darker at the edges), and dry and puffed on top, about 18-23 minutes. (Different types of baking pans may require a slightly different bake time). Do not over-bake or your blondies will be dry.
Cool completely in pan, on a cooling rack, before cutting.
Make-ahead and freezing tips: If you'll be storing these blondies for more than a day or two, they'll stay fresher tightly sealed or covered with plastic in the refrigerator. These blondies also freeze well – wrap them tightly in plastic and store them in air-tight zipper bags.