Friday, February 24, 2012

black bean brownies

I am equipment impaired at the moment.

Perhaps that's why it has taken me until late February to write my first post in 2012. I also think it's taken me this long to adjust to being back to real life post-2011.

What a year 2011 was: some parts were amazingly happy while at others I was overwhelmed by the most intense devastation I have ever known; at times things were messy, at others there was crystal clarity on who I am and where I am going. There was divorce. There was cancer. There was death. There was love.

But I digress (a little heavy for a cooking blog, right?). So, let's get back to my current equipment limitations. Part of my back-to-real-life move involves a new living space in Northern California. It is comfortable, but small. The two burners, mini-fridge, and toaster oven haven't served as much inspiration for me to cook. Plus, I'm by myself. It's always interesting to me how I eat when I'm by myself, because it seems to vary quite greatly from when I'm with someone else. "Dinner" becomes composed of such things like nuts and grapes, or a bunch of kale (seriously: this is the one thing I have cooked consistently since being back in California).

The other kitchen I have access to is in Southern California (this is where the love piece from 2011 comes into play). And while his kitchen is more sizable, because it is also temporary and furnished by someone else, some things are lacking. This created the situation last night for a slightly more challenging brownie endeavor than I had planned. The amazing news is that, in spite of my numerous mishaps and equipment substitutions, the brownies still turned out super tasty. I have to think that actually following the instructions would make them even more so.

Yes, it's a little strange that black beans play a starring role. But somehow it works. My taste-tester wasn't able to guess the secret ingredient (though he'd tell you that I gave it away too quickly and he would have identified it eventually).

The following recipe is one that I've wanted to try for quite some time. Last night, I paired the brownies with fresh raspberries. Tonight, they will be enjoyed with vanilla ice cream. Once some things come together and there is a non-equipment challenged kitch in the picture again, I'll likely try making these again. In the meantime, we're enjoying the gooey chocolate goodness!

Amazing Black Bean Brownies
From 101 cookbooks
As written, makes 45 2-inch brownies

4 oz. unsweetened chocolate
1 c. unsalted butter
2 c. canned black beans, rinsed well and drained
1 c. walnuts, chopped
1 Tbsp. vanilla
1/4 c. instant coffee
1/4 tsp. salt
4 large eggs
1 1/2 c. agave nectar

Heat oven to 325 degrees. Line an 11x18" pan with parchment paper*.
*I didn't have this size pan, so halved the ingredients and put in a 8x11" pan, yielding probably thinner brownies than the original recipe.

In a glass bowl, melt butter and chocolate in microwave for 2 minutes on high. Stir to melt chocolate completely.

Add beans, 1/2 c. walnuts, vanilla, and a couple spoonfuls of melted chocolate into a food processor. Process about 2 minutes, until smooth.**
**I didn't have a food processor. I thought the blender would be a good substitute, but this ended up more challenging than I anticipated. I had to pour in the entire butter/chocolate mixture at this point to get enough liquid for the blender to do anything. I didn't quite get the smooth consistency desired, but I got as close as I could given my instrument! I also didn't read carefully enough and added all of the walnuts, unchopped, at this step. Given that I was trying to blend vs. process and I didn't get to totally smooth, I think my resulting product probably turned out pretty similar to what was supposed to happen by processing half of the walnuts and leaving the other half chopped.

In a large bowl, stir together the remaining walnuts, remaining butter/chocolate mixture, instant coffee, and salt. Mix well and set aside.

In a separate bowl, beat eggs with electric mixer until creamy, about 1 minute.*** Add agave. Beat well. Set aside.
***I didn't have an electric mixer, so substituted brute force whisking: lots of it.

Add bean mixture to chocolate/coffee mixture. Stir until well blended. Add egg mix, reserving about 1/2 cup. Mix well. Pour batter into prepared pan. Using an electric mixer, beat remaining 1/2 cup of egg mixture until light and fluffy. Drizzle over batter. Use a wooden toothpick**** to pull egg mix through, creating a marbled effect.
****I didn't have a wooden toothpick, so used a fork, which worked fine.

Bake 30-40 minutes, until set (30 minutes was the magic number for my halved recipe and smaller pan). Let cool completely in pan before cutting. Brownies will stay soft until refrigerated.


  1. Wow, where did the idea for this come from? I haven't heard of black beans in brownies before (nor any other dessert). What do think they contribute? I wouldn't have ever connected the two in my mind, except for by color.

  2. Hi Dave! I can't claim the idea - I found it on the 101 cookbooks site. It's not the first time I've seen chocolate and beans paired, however - some chili recipes call for chocolate or cocoa powder (coincidentally, we made chicken chili last night and added some dark chocolate to it), so I would imagine this is playing on the same idea. From what I can tell in the resulting brownies, they contribute density and add to the depth of flavor (though I don't think I'd be able to place the flavor as black beans if I wasn't aware that's what I was eating). Try them out!

  3. I've always wanted to try this! What can you sub for agave nectar I wonder? And black beans, don't forget about added fibery goodness!

    1. There's a note on substituting honey on the 101 cookbook post where I found the recipe:


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