No, it’s not “dessert hummus”
When it comes to peanut butter alternatives, there are plenty of options these days. Almond, pecan, sunflower seed, walnut, pistachio—the world of nut butter is not so tiny. One of the most surprising peanut butter alternatives I’ve ever come across is chickpea butter. While it is neither nut- nor seed-based, chickpea butter is creamy and nutty, with a very subtly sweet flavor that tastes like a cross between peanut butter, sunflower seed butter, and the crunchy roasted chickpeas I buy at the grocery store and eat by the handful in between meals.
While peanut butter is arguably the most ubiquitous of nut butters, peanuts are increasingly unwelcome in schools and offices due to allergies. However, as items like apples and toast are significantly improved by the presence of a nutty schmear, peanut butter alternatives are extremely important. Since chickpeas and peanuts are part of the same botanical family, Fabaceae (commonly known as the legume, pea, or bean family), when I read about The Amazing Chickpea’s chickpea butter I was extremely curious to see if the two spreads would be similar.
I purchased The Amazing Chickpea Traditional Chickpea Butter Spread on Amazon just last week, but it appears to no longer be available. According to The Amazing Chickpea website, the company is now using a chickpea and sunflower seed combination for their spreads, available in “Creamy” and “Crunchy” options. The apparently now-defunct “Traditional” chickpea butter contains just a few ingredients: roasted chickpeas, olive oil, cane sugar, and organic palm oil.
The chickpea butter was runnier than I was expecting—more like a thick, sweetened condensed milk or runny caramel than a paste-like nut butter—and incredibly smooth. The spread is also very sticky, coating my tongue and the roof of my mouth almost immediately. As someone with a tendency to crush half a jar of nut butter if I’m not paying attention, I appreciated the extreme stickiness—it would probably allow me to hang onto the jar for longer than a week.
Knowing the flavor and texture of sunflower seed butter from experience leads me to believe that the new products available from The Amazing Chickpea are slightly less chickpea-y in flavor. While I actually enjoyed that savory aftertaste of the “Traditional” flavor, I could imagine some people seeing that aspect of the spread as a drawback.
The Amazing Chickpea doesn’t taste like “dessert hummus,” or like hummus at all, as some people assumed when I mentioned my taste test. First of all, the spread contains no tahini, garlic, or lemon juice, nor the texture of blended hydrated chickpeas. In fact, it seems more to be the product of hydrated chickpeas that were roasted until completely dehydrated (like crunchy chickpea snacks) and then ground into a paste with oil, sugar, and salt. It exists firmly in the nut butter camp, and I’d welcome it on any breakfast of mine.