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Achieving Silky Smooth Hummus

By Cook's Illustrated Published January 2012

The key to smoother, creamier hummus is all in the temperature of the beans.

A tip on food writer Melissa Clark’s blog about how to achieve smoother, creamier hummus intrigued us. The tip advises pureeing the chickpeas while they are still warm from cooking rather than letting them cool to room temperature or chilling them first. We wondered if warmed-up beans would also be beneficial when using canned chickpeas (the test kitchen’s preference in hummus). To find out, we made hummus with beans straight from the can and compared it with a second batch incorporating beans that we microwaved for a minute and then cooled to room temperature before processing. The results? The hummus made from warmed beans was significantly silkier than the unheated sample—and remained that way even after being refrigerated.

Here’s why: Chickpeas are high in a starch called amylose that forms large crystals as it cools after cooking, leading to a grainy texture. But exposure to high heat will break the crystals down. There’s no risk of the grainy texture recurring once the hummus is refrigerated, as the oil it contains will coat the individual amylose molecules, inhibiting crystallization. If your goal is to make the smoothest possible dip, then give your chickpeas a quick zap before pureeing.