Thursday, June 12, 2014

Fudgy Black Bean Brownies

As followers of my blog know, I love desserts.  I simply cannot have dinner without dessert; it would be like going to bed without a pillow, or taking a bath without bubbles.  You could do it, but why would you ever want to?  My need for dessert is a tricky one, because I also strive to eat as healthy as possible.  Desserts are generally not known for being the most nutritious of meals (and sorry, fruit just doesn't cut it as dessert for me).  So I'm always on the lookout for healthier versions of traditional desserts.  The health food scene has been abuzz lately with talk about Black Bean Brownies, but some of the feedback on them hasn't been great, so I had put off making them.  After all, I don't want my desserts to actually taste healthy.  However, after going five months with an aversion to chocolate (thanks, pregnancy!), I decided to celebrate my return to the wonderful world of chocolate by trying my hand at making a "doesn't-taste-healthy-black-bean-brownie".  

I researched a ton of different recipes and read through hundreds of reviews, so I could get a feel for what went right--and more importantly, what went wrong--in other recipes.  I then wrote up my own, and ran out to my local Earth Fare grocery store to pick up ingredients.  I figured if this recipe turned out good, it would be the perfect recipe for my monthly Earth Fare post.  After all, my fellow Earth Fare shoppers are also concerned about eating as healthily as possible, yet are likely to be adventurous enough to try something as odd sounding as Black Bean Brownies.  Well, the first batch turned out fantastic!  It was all gobbled up within two days in my house, so I made a second batch later that week, tweaking the recipe just a bit, and I can safely say I have found THE Black Bean Brownie recipe.  It takes less than 5 minutes to whip up, just 20 minutes to bake, has no flour, no processed sugar (other than what's in the chocolate chips), contains only healthy fats, and is absolutely delicious.  If you are a fan of a fudgy brownie, this is the dessert for you.  I promise that it doesn't taste like it's made with black beans at all!  It is, however, a fudgy style brownie, so if cakey brownies are your preference, it might not be your thing.  Without the addition of flour, I'm not sure black bean brownies can ever achieve a cakey consistency.  Fortunately for me (and many others, I'm sure), I personally prefer my brownies FUDGY.  And guys, these brownies are rich and fudgy.  Drool.

Fudgy Black Bean Brownies
Yields 16 Brownies

15 oz Can Black Beans, drained & rinsed
1 Cup Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
1/4 Cup Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
1/2 Cup Old Fashioned Rolled Oats
1/2 Cup Real Maple Syrup
1/4 Cup Coconut Oil
1 Egg 
2 tsp Vanilla Extract
1/2 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 tsp Salt
1/3 Cup Additional Chocolate Chips


1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Grease an 8 x 8 baking dish.

2. Put all the ingredients, except for the additional 1/3 cup of chocolate chips, in the food processor and puree until completely smooth; using the spatula to scrape down the sides every now and then.

3.  Remove the blade from the food processor, and then stir the additional 1/3 cup of chocolate chips into the batter, but do not puree again.  Spoon the batter into the greased baking dish.

4.  Bake at 350 degrees for 18-22 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out relatively clean.  Once cool, cut into 16 squares.  Store in an air-tight container, at room temperature.

Serving Size: 1 Square (1/16th of Pan)
Calories:  186
Fat:  10
Carbs:  27
Protein: 4
Sugar:  17

* If you are wanting to lower the fat/calorie content, you can substitute unsweetened applesauce for the coconut oil; just be aware that it will likely need to cook for an extra ten minutes, and need to sit a little longer to firm up.  Also, remember that coconut oil is good, healthy fat when used in moderation.

* If you want to lower the sugar and calorie content some, reduce the first measurement of chocolate chips from 1 cup to 2/3 cup.  I often make it this way, and it turns out great.  It reduces the calories to 164, and the sugar to 14 grams.

* I baked mine in a glass baking dish; if you use a metal pan, the cooking time might be a little different (It's been reported back to me that it takes about 25 minutes to fully cook in a metal pan, but I've never personally tested it out).

* While the egg may be replaced with flax/applesauce/banana/etc. to make it vegan, I personally haven't tried it that way, so I cannot be sure how it will turn out.  Report back if you try any substitutions!

*Quick oats can likely be substituted for old fashioned rolled oats

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