Xochi Balfour believes in living naturally; in eating natural foods, using ingredients grown in the ground, respecting our bodies and souls and nourishing them in every way we can. Here she shares her recipe for blondies:
Protein packed and without a grain in sight, these chickpea blondies are, I think, my best baked concoction yet. It is so difficult to find easy, tasty vegan and gluten free baking recipes, and ones that manifest straight out of your most humble larder ingredients are truly friends forever.
Chickpeas are amazing little legumes and so easy to work with. They’re a super source of fibre and protein, and one cup provides us with 50% or more of our average daily potassium, B6 and magnesium needs, and an impressive 60% of our daily iron requirements… making them a strong source of the essential mineral in any plant based diet.
But whizz them up and throw them into a pudding? I never dreamt to do so. And yet they’re the perfect candidate, creamy and nutty with such a versatile flavour that they work just as well with vanilla and cinnamon as they do with tahini and lemon. They’re also in almost every food shop and cost next to nothing. Always a bonus.
The cacao avocado icing is creamy, silky smooth and perfectly complements their warm nutty flavour. I have kept added sweetness (dates and maple) to a minimum but you can adapt this according to your own taste (or need…)
The end result is a delicious healthy snack and perfect for pudding or just to perk you up when you might think to reach for a sugar-packed brownie or chocolate bar. Give them a go and I think you will agree. And when you tell your guests their secret ingredient their jaws will drop with wonder.
Preheat the oven to 170 degrees and grease or line a baking tray with parchment.
If you’re using canned chickpeas, be sure to rinse them thoroughly first. Place the chickpeas in a blender or food processor along with the rest of the ingredients and pulse until the mixture is a thick doughy consistency. Have a taste and see if you want a little more maple, cinnamon or salt. Remember the flavours will mellow with cooking so don’t be afraid to add more.
Pour the mixture into the baking dish and place in the oven for 15-20 minutes (depending on the thickness of your tray). They are ready when they are a little golden on top and you can stick a knife in and bring it out clean, but if you overdo it they will dry out and softer is always better. Leave them to cool while you prepare the icing.
In a blender, whizz all the ingredients except the cinnamon until smooth and creamy. Once the base has cooled, spread it thickly over the top and dust with cinnamon. Cut into squares and keep in the fridge until serving.
Keeps for one day.
All images and copy - Xochi Balfour - founder of The Naturalista