To whomever requested something cherry-garcia themed on the blog,
I thank you. I wish I could hug you, quite honestly, for reminding me just how much I love the cherry + chocolate + vanilla trio. Bless your soul.
But, couldn't I have just made traditional cookies with butter and sugar and other ingredients I refer to as ones you'd find in grandma's kitchen? Yes, yes I certainly could have. And I also could have left homemade almond milk and cinnamon out of my coffee this morning. And I didn't need to whip coconut cream for a lightly sweet dairy-free frosting on these muffins, either. Annnnd I could have stopped my workout at just twenty minutes this morning. But, come on. You know me.
The first time I baked with beans remains in my collection of cherished memories like that first recipe in my repertoire of favorite sweets. Mom and I somehow - I can't recall exactly how it came to us - found a recipe for peanut butter chocolate chip cookies made from a base of none other than the beloved chickpea.
"Okay, so it says we are supposed to blend the chickpeas with the peanut butter and maple syrup in the food processor..." Mom hesitated. Still unsure of my opinion of beans at this point in my life (my pre-vegetarian days back in high school), I was no help but to say,
"I don't know, let's just do it."
And we did. After processing and pulsing the beans and peanut butter for almost longer than our patience and ears could handle, we rolled the dough - which actually felt surprisingly similar to what that of a traditional cookie (you know, the grandma's-ingredients ones). Of course, a few chunks hopped into our mouths because what's cookie-baking without dough-tasting? We looked at each other like we had just struck cookie gold. And we did.
I later discovered recipes for avocado brownies and black bean brownies, both of which brought confused and skeptical looks to faces of those with whom we shared them, despite the undeniable fudgy texture. We stopped telling people about the avocado and black bean parts, and like magic, the confused and skeptical looks disappeared.
Nowadays - about four years since that first chickpea peanut butter cookie - beans are as common in desserts as crop tops are in bars (not the dessert kind of bars). To say "here's just another bean dessert!" would be an understatement. These are somehow a warm, crispy cookie on the outside, and a soft, melty dough on the inside. Not under-baked, though, but rather a only-in-my-dreams combination of the cookie dough I so dearly love to munch on while making cookies and the actual cookies I wish I'd saved room for (there's always room).
Makes 2 small skillets, or 1 large*
1 15-oz. can white beans, drained and rinsed**
1/2 cup tahini
1/3 cup maple syrup
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3/4 cup almond flour***
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/3 cup chopped dried cherries
1/3 cup dark chocolate chips
Oil, for greasing the skillet (or butter, if not vegan)
Sea salt, to taste, plus extra for topping
Preheat oven to 350F and lightly grease the skillet(s) with oil.
In a high-speed blender or food processor, pulse the beans, tahini, maple syrup, and vanilla until smooth. Carefully remove the blade and scrape off any remaining bits of dough.
Combine the almond flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and a pinch of sea salt in a medium-sized bowl. Add the mixture from the blender and stir until well-incorporated. Check the consistency and add more flour by the tablespoon if the dough feels too sticky.
Finally, stir in the chopped dried cherries and dark chocolate chips. Transfer the dough to the skillet(s), top with another pinch of sea salt and extra chocolate chips, if desired. Bake for 16-18 minutes if using two small skillets, and 20-22 minutes if using one large skillet. Remove from oven when the edges are golden brown and the center is mostly baked through. It will continue to bake even after it's taken out because the skillet is extremely hot.
Cool slightly before serving.
* Each small skillet serves about 2 people, and each large will serve 3-4.
** The white beans I used, even after rinsing, seemed really wet and mushy, so consider the texture/moisture level of yours and you might need to lightly pat them dry with a paper towel before pulsing them in the food processor.
*** Depending on the texture/moisture of your beans, you may also need to add more almond flour. If you don't have almond flour, I would imagine that just about any other flour will work, though I have not tried this recipe using another flour, so results may vary. Let me know in the comments below if you do make a substitution!