Thursday, January 30, 2014

Black Bean Brownies

A week ago one of my former classmates, and now colleague, brought a batch of homemade brownies to work. Although I wouldn't call her a health nut, she definitely likes to eat a lot of healthy products and advertised these brownies as such. When I asked her why she explained that they were gluten-free black bean brownies, meaning they had no flour in them and were packed with protein. I was curious so I tried a piece and was amazed that they tasted very good.

I decided to make an experiment and see how my family would react to them, given their unusual ingredients. I hadn't baked brownies in quite a long time and both my mother and brother are chocoholics so I knew they would be initially well-received. I baked the brownies, making sure no one was around to see the ingredients going into them, and then offered them freshly baked to my brother.

I waited until he had finished half of his large piece before letting him in on the secret. Needless to say he was appalled and almost offended that I had "tricked" him into eating this unconventional brownie. I explained that I wasn't trying to be sneaky but I wanted his unbiased opinion of the taste before I told him about the beans. He couldn't believe that it had black beans in it nor could he imagine why anyone would ever create such a recipe. He proceeded to ramble on about how it was a horrible idea to put beans into a dessert, all the while finishing his brownie piece.

Later that evening I gave my mom a piece to sample but she had a different reaction. The recipe also used coconut oil rather than canola or vegetable oil and my mom could taste it right away. Not being a fan of coconut, other than coconut milk, she immediately was put off by the taste and I didn't even have a chance to tell her about the beans. She said that it reminded her a lot of a Nanaimo bar, a chocolate treat made with coconut flakes.

I still wanted more opinions so I packed some up and gave them to my cousins to sample. Of course I didn't tell them about the ingredients, just that I baked brownies and wanted them to have a taste. My cousin texted me later that evening and said they were good and that I should blog about them. It will be interesting to see her reaction once this post goes up and my secret will be out. I wonder if she will be as offended as my brother or find it cool that something so unusual can taste so good.

Black Bean Brownies
Note: I saw one version online that baked the brownies in a mini-muffin pan for 12-15 minutes. According to my brother, traditional brownies should always be baked in a pan and then sliced so I stuck to his preferences however the brownies were quite gooey so it may be more convenient to bake them in the muffin pan and not have to worry about slicing.
  • 1 15 oz can black beans, well-rinsed and drained (about 1¾ cups)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3 tbsp coconut oil (may use vegetable or canola oil instead)
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup + 1 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ½ cup chocolate chips
  • Optional: ½ cup chopped walnuts  
  1. In the bowl of a food processor, puree the beans on high speed until they turn into a paste and are free of any solid pieces.
  2. Add the eggs, coconut oil, sugar, cocoa powder, vanilla, and salt and continue to puree until a homogenous mixture forms. The consistency should be like that of a regular brownie batter, spreadable but not too liquidy or thick.
  3. Mix in the chocolate chips using a wooden spoon or spatula.
  4. Spread the batter evenly into an 8"x8" well-greased or parchment-lined pan. Sprinkle the chopped nuts (if using) on top.
  5. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 25-30 minutes. (I baked it for 25 minutes but the center was still quite gooey so I would recommend an extra five minutes just to make sure it sets).
  6. Remove from the oven and allow the brownies to cool for at least half an hour in the pan before slicing and serving, otherwise they will be too difficult to cut.

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