Thursday, June 9, 2011

A hill of beans (or more precisely: a square)

Those readers familiar with my baking history will know I have something of a sordid past of hiding weird things in chocolate confections. It should come as no surprise then that when I saw a recipe for Black Bean Brownies, I could hardly not make them. Unlike my Velveeta fudge days though, this decision was entirely health motivated. Black beans add fiber to the brownies making them every-so-slightly healthier than regular bean-less brownies.

The result of this recipe is chocolatey deliciousness without a hint of bean aftertaste (my one fear in making them). I wanted them to be tasted by someone who didn't know the secret ingredient, so I kept key information from my boyfriend while making them. (This was more difficult than I thought as he walked into the kitchen while I was working and questioned the use of beans. I told him I was making black bean burgers, and luckily he's seen enough of my experimental cooking to not question why black bean burgers involved being pulsed with walnuts.) The consensus was positive both from test subject A who knew about the addition of beans (myself) and test subject B (the control group) who did not. You would never guess these had no refined sugar or flour in them! They have a very rich and dark chocolate taste which I think is heightened by the coffee and cocoa powder. Now if there was just a way to drop the two sticks of butter out of the equation, I would have a genius health food on my hands.

Black Bean Brownies
(I found this recipe on 101 Cookbooks and only tweaked it slightly.)

4 ounces unsweetened chocolate
1 cup unsalted butter (This is where black bean brownies stop being healthy...)
1 can black beans (thoroughly drained and rinsed)
1 cup walnuts, chopped (I added more. You can never have too many walnuts)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3 T cocoa powder
3 T instant espresso power of instant coffee powder
¼ teaspoon sea salt
4 large eggs
1 cup light agave nectar*

*I used half agave syrup and half honey (based on what I had in my cabinet), but you could always use all honey if you don't have agave around. You could also use regular sugar, in which case, I would reduce the amount to about 3/4 of a cup.


Preheat the oven to 325°F. Grease an 11" by 13" pan and set aside.

Chop the chocolate and melt it with the butter in a glass bowl in the microwave for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes on high (stirring periodically). For those of you, like myself as of 2 months ago, who don't have a microwave, feel free to jerry-rig a double boiler of some sort. Stir with a spoon to melt the chocolate completely.

Place the beans, 1/2 cup of the walnuts, the vanilla extract, and a couple of spoonfuls of the melted chocolate mixture into the bowl of a food processor. Blend about 2 minutes, or until smooth. The batter should be thick and the beans smooth. Set aside.

Add to the original chocolate mixture, the instant coffee, the cocoa, powder, the remaining 1/2 cup walnuts, and salt. Mix well and set aside.

In a separate bowl, with an electric mixer beat the eggs until light and creamy, about 1 minute. Add the agave nectar and beat well. Set aside.

Mix the egg mixture, the bean mixture, and the chocolate mixture together. Pour into the prepared pan and put in the oven for 30 minutes or until the brownies are set.


  1. Sounds great! I think I'll try them (reducing eggs and butter a bit). I have never tried it, but there is such a thing as bean pie -- sort of like sweet potato, I think. I once had a fantastic chocolate cake and was told that the secret ingredient was beets! FT

  2. Let me know how they turn out! I worry that massive amounts of butter just might be the *real* secret ingredient.

  3. nonsense! butter is healthy! i love butter!