I made a big batch of healthy hummus last week and bought a bag of mini-pitas to go with the dip. The delicious hummus was gone in a few days, but we didn’t end up eating most of the cute little pitas, each about 3 inches in diameter. Pita bread goes stale rather quickly, resulting in brittle disks hard enough to scratch cuneiform into stone tablets. I thought about feeding my pita bounty to the birds, but then I thought, “Why not make pita chips? How hard can it be?” For once, the answer to that question is, “Not hard at all! It’s so simple an invertebrate could do it!” Well, maybe that’s an exaggeration, but honestly, you barely even need opposable thumbs.
I cut each mini-pita into quarters. Some of them crumbled apart as I did so, or the bottom layer broke off from the top layer, but I still ended up with about 4 cups of solid, triangular chip-shapes. I put them in a bowl and drizzled them with 3 tablespoons of melted butter, mixing them around with my hands to make sure they got evenly coated. In another little bowl, I mixed 2 tablespoons sugar with 1 tablespoon cinnamon, a couple dashes of salt and a dash of cayenne pepper. I poured the sugar mixture onto the pita pieces and again used my hands to toss them around until they were well covered. I arranged them in a flat layer on a baking sheet and put them in a 350-degree oven for 8 minutes. The kitchen filled with the aroma of cinnamon and my mouth started watering. They were soft when they came out of the oven but crisped up as they cooled. Delicious!
The problem was, I didn’t have anything to dip them in. I wanted something sweet but not too sweet and at least moderately healthful that could be made with exactly what I had in my pantry. (I didn’t have time to go to the grocery store because I wanted to eat the chips immediately.) I put my faith in the internet, did a quick search, and the Google search engine served up a variety of recipes for chocolate cookie dough dip. Nope, it’s not actual cookie dough. It’s made with — are you ready for this? — white beans or chickpeas. Before you turn away in disgust, consider this: Much of the world enjoys sweetened bean paste in a variety of desserts. So sweet beans are not weird. Maybe we are weird because we have not yet caught on to the global sweet bean trend.
The thing about this dip, though, is that it doesn’t seem like you’re eating beans at all. The appearance and flavor is so deceptively similar to cookie dough that it will be tremendously fun to trick everyone into eating it and then saying “Ha! You are eating healthy plant protein and you didn’t even know it! Now guess what other wacky things I’ve made you eat in the last several years!”
OK, OK, enough joking. Don’t take my word for it. Make it and taste for yourself.
Here’s how I did it: I took one can of Great Northern beans, drained it thoroughly and plopped the beans into a blender (although a food processor would be just as good or better). I added ¼ cup of peanut butter along with 2 tablespoons of maple syrup and 1 teaspoon vanilla. The peanut butter can be swapped out for any nut or seed butter, like almond, cashew or sunflower, and the sweetener can be whatever you prefer, such as honey, agave syrup or date syrup. I also added a generous tablespoon of tahini (a creamy sesame paste) because I had it on hand from last week’s adventures with hummus. I added a couple dashes of salt and a couple dashes of cinnamon. I blended everything together on high and dipped a spatula in (after turning the blender off, of course) and found that I’d made a pleasantly sweet (but not cloying), nutty, smooth dip that really did remind me of cookie dough. I made it into chocolate chip cookie dough by spooning the dip into a bowl and stirring in ¹/3 cup chocolate chips.
The recipe is vegan right up until you add the chocolate chips, so if you want to go vegan all the way, use vegan chocolate chips instead. The recipe can be adjusted to suit your tastes and preferences by adding more or less sweetener, nut butter, vanilla, salt or cinnamon. For variations on this dip, do a quick online search. There’s an abundance of bean-based cookie dough dips and oh-so-many recipes to choose from. Some versions include oat flour or almond flour, giving the dip a little more heft and a more doughlike texture.
As for the pita chips, you can reduce the sugar on the pita chips or substitute date sugar. To make the chips vegan, use coconut or sesame oil instead of butter (and check the pita bread’s ingredients). Try different spices like cardamom or ginger, or check out one of the many, many recipes for savory pita chips. Make this a gluten-free treat by using gluten-free pita bread (or buying your own ready-made gluten-free pita chips).
The last step is to settle on the couch with a bowl of dip in one hand and a bowl of pita chips in the other. Unfortunately, with both hands now full, you’ll have to ask a family member to feed you. Making homemade goodies is so rewarding, isn’t it?