These healthy peanut butter and jelly dessert bars will take you right back to childhood! Made with chickpeas, no added sugar, and whole grain flour, your inner child will love the taste, and your outer adult will love how healthy they are!
Chickpeas in dessert?
That's right! Is there anything this little bean can't do? Well, maybe, but dessert isn't one of those things! It works because chickpeas (AKA garbanzo beans) are relatively neutral in flavor, so it's easy to cover them up. Also, chickpeas have a creamy texture, so they can disappear into recipes by pureeing them.
Chickpeas help to keep baked desserts moist, while also contributing plant-based protein and heart healthy fiber. Canned chickpeas are really best for desserts, since their texture is usually "softer," but you can cook them from dry, too.
If you, too, are a fan of the humble chickpea, you'll love my compilation of 45 Recipes to Make with a Can of Chickpeas - desserts included!
Tips and Substitutions
I recommend finding a natural peanut butter with only one or two ingredients (peanuts and salt). Yes, you'll need to stir it. Refrigerate it afterward to keep it from separating again and it will be less of a chore. Peanut butter contains some great healthy fats, so never get the reduced fat options! More about finding the heart healthiest peanut butter.
Look for an all fruit jelly or jam that is made without sugar. And I don't mean the brands that just say they don't use sugar, but add artificial sweeteners. While it's probably fine to consume those sometimes, reserve their use for things that really need it. Jelly is so sweet on its own, it doesn't need any sweeteners. I like Polaner All Fruit Spread, or I sometimes make my own (check out my Blueberry Thyme Chia Jam). Make sure to read the ingredients, specifically looking for sweeteners like sugar, sucralose, erythritol, etc. Read more about choosing a healthy jelly.
You could probably use any type of bean for this, but it will affect the color of your final product. Amazingly, the chickpeas disappear into the dessert bars, but make them stay moist and delicious! You won't believe it!
If you don't like peanut butter (like my husband), you can use any nut butter. Almond butter would be delicious! Make it nut free by using sunflower butter or soynut butter.
No worries! If all you have is regular chickpeas, use them! Drain and rinse well, and omit the salt in the recipe.
If you make Peanut Butter and Jelly Dessert Bars, let me know in the comments!
Peanut Butter and Jelly Dessert Bars
These peanut butter and jelly dessert bars will take you right back to your childhood! Made with chickpeas, no added sugar, and whole grain flour, they'll delight both that inner child, and outer adult!
- 1 can No Added Salt Chickpeas (or 1 ½ cup), drained and rinsed
- ½ cup Date Paste (see notes)
- ⅓ cup Natural Peanut Butter
- ½ cup Whole Wheat Flour (or oat or almond flour for gluten free)
- 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
- 1 teaspoon Baking Powder
- ½ teaspoon Baking Soda
- ¼ teaspoon Salt
For the swirl topping:
- ⅓ cup All Fruit Jelly (see above for recommendations)
- 2 tablespoon Natural Peanut Butter
Preheat oven to 350° F and line an 8x8 pan with parchment paper (or grease).
Add the chickpeas, date paste, and peanut butter to a food processor, and process on high a few minutes until the entire mixture is completely smooth. Scrape down the sides as needed.
Scoop the mixture into a bowl, and stir in the flour, baking powder and soda, vanilla, and salt.
Transfer to the prepared baking pan, and spread the batter evenly.
Pour the jelly on top, and spread over the entire surface. Drizzle with the remaining peanut butter, and swirl using a chopstick or knife.
Bake for 32-38 minutes, until the edges are golden brown.
Allow to cool in the pan for about 10 minutes before slicing and removing the bars to a cooling rack.
Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
To make date paste: Soak 1 cup dates in 1 cup hot water for at least 30 minutes. Transfer both dates and water to high speed blender, and blend on high until smooth.