Yes, you read that title correctly. Black Bean Brownies. A friend sent a link to me some time ago but it took me a while to check it out. Black Bean Brownies are a clever gluten-free bake that uses black beans for moisture and texture and, cocoa powder as a flour replacer and chocolate flavouring.
Most recipes come via the USA and use a handy tin of black beans, readily available in any supermarket there. Whilst you can buy tins of black beans in Australia too, they’re not exactly cheap so a more budget friendly option is to buy a bag of dried black beans. You can buy a one kilo bag for around $7 at most good delis and speciality food stores. They are often marked as ‘Turtle Beans’. Cook them up as per the instructions (around 30 minutes), drain and store them in batches in zip lock bags in the freezer. I always have bags of black beans in the freezer to drop into soups, chillis, Tex-Mex wraps and now, for brownies. You can retain the black liquid drained off from cooking the beans to add to soups or stews if you like.
These brownies taste just like any other cake. There is no ‘bean’ taste and when tested on unsuspecting friends, they couldn’t guess the key ingredient so this is a great way of slipping some extra veggies into your kid’s diet. They can be made vegan friendly by substituting the egg (see notes at bottom), are relatively low in fat and are high in protein and fibre. Mixing these in the food processor makes cleaning up very easy as it’s all done in one bowl.
When I finally did look at the link, it sent me down a search engine rabbit hole. Looking at one recipe then another. Comparing and contrasting – flour vs no flour, sugar (brown, white or raw?) vs agave syrup (light, dark, amber?), fudgey vs cakey. I’ve adapted a recipe I found on Minimalist Baker, using ingredients you’d likely have to hand plus your bag of frozen black beans. I’ve provided advice on making these as individual brownies and in a tray as well. The smaller brownies are great for portion control but you need to cook them for a shorter time than you might think as they can dry out. Both styles were a hit and whilst they freeze well also, I don’t think you’ll have any left once you start sharing them around.
- 425g pre cooked Black Beans (or 1 can)
- 2 x eggs
- 3 x tbsp vegetable oil
- 3/4 cup dark cocoa (I use Equagold)
- 1/4 tspn sea salt
- 1 x tspn vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup raw sugar (pulsed a couple of times in the food processor)
- 1 1/2 tspn baking powder
- crushed nuts eg: hazelnuts (optional)
- Place all ingredients in food processor and blend well for 3 minutes until smooth.
- Stop food processor a few times to push mix down from sides though a few small pieces of semi chopped black bean makes little difference in the final mix.
- If batter appears too thick, add a dribble of oil. The batter should be droppable but not too runny. Allow to rest for a few minutes.
- Place batter into lightly greased baking tray (18 x 27cm) or drop evenly into a 12 hole muffin tin
- Is using nuts, sprinkle on top of brownie/s
- Place in oven pre-heated to 175c and bake. Brownie Tray: 20 – 22 minutes Muffin Tin: 15 – 17 minutes
- Remove from oven and let cool for 30 minutes in the tin before removing. Slice brownies before removing. They will firm up as they cool but will still be tender so be careful if you are removing.
- Store in an airtight container in the fridge. Can be served warm with ice cream or frozen (slice baking tray brownie before freezing)
- Like many of my recipes, this is fairly forgiving. A handful of beans either way is not going to make a difference. You can use white sugar or add more sugar if you like this a little sweeter or use a lighter cocoa if the kids don’t have a penchant for dark chocolate flavours.
- These brownies rely on the black beans for moisture so don’t over cook the batter and end up with a dry brownie. Even though the brownies may not seem like they are set, as they cool, they will firm up.
- The original recipe gives a vegan substitute for the eggs. ‘Flax egg’: 2.5 tbsp flaxseed meal + 6 tbsp water. Place in food processor bowl, pulse a few time and then allow to sit for a few minutes before adding other ingredients.
- DO NOT tell your kids or partner these brownies have black beans in them. If you don’t tell, they won’t know!