Batter Licker

January 4, 2012

project wedding dessert bar: part 14 (moroccan-spiced crispy chickpeas)

I’m a crispy chickpea addict. A year and a half ago, this snack ushered me through weeks of studying for the bar exam during Summer 2010, and (especially after passing the exam) I’ve felt indebted to it ever since.

So in some weird way, it made sense to include this snack – which stood by my side in my mouth during some of my more miserable moments – in the dessert bar I created for family and friends to enjoy on an evening celebrating one of the consistent sources of happiness during the past decade of my life: my relationship with Jay. But the inclusion of chickpeas also made sense from another perspective.

In retrospect, I realized that the desserts I chose to serve at my wedding very much reflected a sugary timeline of my life and development.

Fudge and toffee represented the beginning, when I learned my mother’s precision and the importance of following candy recipes exactly. Sometimes, my mind would wander, my wrist would ache from stirring, and I would lose focus. That’s code for: I burned and threw out quite a few bad batches along the way. But if I hadn’t learned then, I probably would have scorched a lot of chocolate instead of melting it into delightfully rich truffles.

Quite a few years later, I began experimenting with caramels, and after quite a bit of testing, I finally came up with my own basic recipe. Eventually, that recipe blossomed into the fleur de sel and bourbon spice caramels friends and family enjoyed at our wedding.

In the past year or two, I have taken more risks – in life and in the kitchen – which was reflected in the more innovative cashew-bacon brittle and s’mores brownie bites that disappeared so quickly.

But back to making crispy chickpeas … make sure to rinse and drain them thoroughly, otherwise they don’t crisp up properly. Secret: I often pour the drained chickpeas onto a towel to pat them just a tad drier.

Bust out those spices. I went Moroccan for the wedding, but love to throw together Cajun and Indian spice mixes, or even just simple chili powder with salt.

Host a spice mix and mingle party.

Oil up the chickpeas so the spices will adhere.

Barrage the chickpeas with the spice mixture.

Take a closer whiff. Smells good!

Toss the chickpeas with spices to coat them evenly.

Pour them out into a single layer on a baking sheet. I usually line it with foil first for easy clean-up.

And now the tough part: bake the chickpeas until they’re browned (but not black!) and very crispy. Depending on how well you drained them and how spaced out they were on the baking sheet, this may take less or more time. So check after 30 minutes, and then every 5 minutes or so until they reach your desired level of crispiness. I like mine super crispy – as in 5 minutes away from completely burnt and inedible.

Serve them up in a cute apothecary jar with a scoop or a simple bowl for snacking.

Moroccan-Spiced Crispy Chickpeas

4 cans chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
2 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. ground coriander
1/2 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. allspice
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/8 tsp. cloves
salt (amount will vary, depending on how salty chickpeas are; I used unsalted chickpeas, so added about 1 1/2 Tbsp. salt)
6 Tbsp. olive oil

Preheat oven to 350F.

Drain chickpeas completely. Toss with olive oil.

Mix together cumin, coriander, chili powder, paprika, cinnamon, allspice, ginger, cayenne, cloves, and salt.

Toss chickpeas in spice mixture. Transfer to baking sheet, and spread chickpeas into single layer. Bake until crispy and lightly browned, about 45 to 55 minutes (taste to test the crispiness – I like mine extra crispy). Do ahead: crispy chickpeas will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for 3 to 5 days.

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