I borrowed this recipe for black bean brownies from my friend Kate. These brownies are vegan, grain free, and gluten free, and if you used stevia instead of sugar, they would even fit into a slow or low carb diet! Pretty impressive, I think.
(Image & original recipe credit)
The whole concept of black bean brownies is unintuitive – I think I know of no other dessert recipe that uses beans as an ingredient. But it works so well. I think it’s because the black beans have a very rich flavour, one which blends with and accentuates the flavour of the cocoa.
This will need to be prepared the day before serving as a lot of the flavour magic goes on in the fridge. I know it’s tempting to eat them right away, but patience will bring great dividends.
You might want to soak the black beans in the morning in order to cook and use them in the evening. Then you can leave the brownies in the fridge overnight. I know this seems onerous, but freshly cooked black beans really are better than canned ones.
1 1/2 cups black beans, made from 3/4 cup dried beans (cooking instructions to follow)
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup walnuts, diced
1/4 cup and 2 tbsp cocoa powder
2 tbsp coconut oil
1/2 tsp cinnamon powder
1 tsp vanilla essence
a pinch of salt
First, cook your black beans. (See also: How To Cook Black Beans). You could also get the black beans from a can, which is convenient, but they won’t be as good or as nutritious. If you do use a can, just drain the beans, measure them, and move onto the next step. If you are cooking them yourself, do as follows:
Leave the black beans for 8 hours to soak. You’ll need to cover them with ample water, then add a teaspoon of baking soda. Stir briefly and leave them.
If you do this in the morning, you should be able to cook them by the afternoon. Just drain them, and add new water to cover them. Bring them to the boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cook for 15-25 minutes, or until soft. You can test one or two by taking it out with a fork then leaving it on a chopping board for a minute to cool.
Preheat the oven to 180C (350F).
Now that you have your beans, drain them (keep the cooking water – it makes an excellent and nutritious broth with just the addition of a little salt, and can stand in for vegetable or meat stock in many recipes). Measure them out with all the other ingredients into a food processor. If you don’t have a food processor, you can use a mixing bowl and blend it all with a stick blender. Otherwise, you can mash the beans with a fork and then add the other ingredients (chop the walnuts quite finely, unless you want the black bean brownies to be very nobbly).
Pour the mixture into a small baking dish lined with greaseproof paper. Flatten it out and distribute it evenly about the baking dish with a spoon.
Bake for 30 minutes. Take the brownie mixture out and cut into 8 pieces. Place them onto a baking sheet and bake for another 10 minutes.
Allow to cool, and then place them in the fridge to rest overnight. This will bring out the best flavour.
Allow to warm up to room temperature just a little before serving (3-4 minutes).