Sunday, September 18, 2011

Black Bean Brownies

Wait. Say what? Black beans? In a dessert? That was my initial reaction when my intern and I were discussing a multitude of amazing baked goods we wanted to try. I had no doubt these gluten-free, high fiber, high protein brownies would hit a high note with some people. I just couldn't believe the end result would be as chocolaty divine as he made them out to be. So I set out to find out for myself.

adapted from a recipe as described by my intern

yields one pan (about 12-16 brownies)

The Ingredients:
1 - 15 oz can of black beans (preferably low or no sodium)
1/3 cup agave syrup
1/4 cup sugar substitute (truvia or splenda)
3 Tbsp vegetable oil
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp instant coffee
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of salt
3 eggs
8 oz chocolate chips, or semi-sweet chocolate, chopped

The Process:
Preheat the oven to 350.

Drain the black beans and rinse thoroughly. Add beans to a food processor and blend on high until a smooth puree is formed. Transfer to a large bowl. Whisk in agave, sugar substitute, oil, cocoa powder, instant coffee, baking powder vanilla extract and salt, and blend until just combined. Gently beat in the eggs, one at a time. The batter will be runnier compared to other brownie batters. Fold in chocolate chips. Pour the batter into a lightly greased, 8 x 8 inch baking pan.

Bake in preheated oven 30-35 minutes until the brownies begin to pull away from the side of the pan and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool slightly before serving.

The Review:
Don't be fooled. Something is afoot...these aren't your fudge-y, Betty Crocker variety of brownie. But I bet most people would be hard pressed to put their finger on what really is different about these brownies.

In batter form the flavor of the legumes is still present, but as the brownies baked the chocolate aroma took over. Out of oven the counterfeit brownies looked denser and darker than typical boxed brownie mixes, but still had an airy, cake-like appearance. They were moister than most, and just as prone to crumbling as other brownies we've had.

The major difference any of us could deceiver was a slightly mealy texture, but not in a bad way. It made for a brownie that was smooth and almost dissolved in your mouth. The chocolate was rich, but mellower than in other chocolate brownies. Overall they had a richer, more earthy taste. Had I not known, I never would have guessed that the key ingredient was black beans. I certainly would not have been able to tell they were made without flour.

Unlike other gluten-free brownie recipes, these were actually cake-like. Most gluten-free brownies and flourless cakes I've tried in the past had a wonderfully dense and fudge-like texture. While good in their own regard, I was pleased that this black bean version offered a more airy alternative.

Try these out on some fellow unsuspecting brownie connoisseurs. I'd love to hear what their impressions were...and if any were able to guess the secret.

For the health nuts among you, here is the approximate break down compared to Betty Crocker's fudge brownies:

Betty: ____________ Black Bean:
170 calories ________ 155 calories
9g fat_____________ 7.9 g fat
90 mg sodium _______80 g sodium
65 mg potassium_____ 109 mg potassium
23 g carbs __________20 g carbs
16 g sugar __________12.3 g sugar
less than 1 g fiber_____ 2.3 g fiber
1 g protein _________3.2 g protein


  1. So interesting! I've heard of these but I've always been scared to try them. Ill have to take your word for it I guess:)