Friday, October 25, 2013

Mind-Blowing Black Bean Brownies

Happy Friday! As usual, I'm celebrating the end of the work week with a dessert recipe. This one is a real winner, brought to you from a few years of slaving over a hot stove trying to perfect it. This dense, fudgy brownie has subtle peanut butter and cinnamon flavors. It's so decadent that you wouldn't guess that it's gluten free, vegan, and has more protein and less fat than a Cliff bar!

By now most of us have heard of the elusive black bean brownie. Many of us have tried it, and have been sorely disappointed when it was found that they had created a baked lump of black beans with a hint of cocoa and a bunch of oil (or worse. the pungent flavor of apple sauce). There are a lot of bad black bean brownie recipes out there, and my first attempt was no different than most. However, having a best friend who's gluten sensitive and being rather obsessed with baked goods that have added protein, we suffered through a ton of sub-par recipes to finally bring you this fudgy perfection!

The big keys to getting it right were 1) adding massive quantities of cocoa powder. It should be added in cups, not spoonfuls and 2) adding peanut butter. Peanut butter has an amazing ability to overpower the flavor of beans and even a tiny bit can make a hummus taste like peanut butter. (What's that? A peanut butter hummus recipe may be coming soon?) If I had to add a #3, a good food processor and patience is also key. You really need to make sure that you process long enough that you've thoroughly blended everything and there are no bits of black bean left.

Black Bean Brownies

1 can black beans
1/4c brown sugar (or agave or maple)
heaping 1/4c cocoa powder
heaping 2T peanut butter
1/4t baking soda
1/4t vanilla
1T cornstarch (For those who know me in real life and tried my black bean brownies last year... this was the missing link! They are no longer crumbly, just fudgy)
splash almond milk
cinnamon and sea salt to taste (if desired)

Preheat oven to 350F. Combine all ingredients in food processor and food process until very smooth, adding almond milk sparingly to create the right texture. (Taste the batter to make sure everything is to your liking and if not, feel free to add more sugar/ cocoa powder/ peanut butter/ cinnamon. I'm a dark chocolate girl, so it's possible that you'd like more sugar than I do.) Food process to combine any flavor tweaks. Grease a 9x9 square pan and add the batter. Cook for 17 minutes. Remove from oven, cut into squares, and enjoy warm.

*You know I'm not one to count calories, but this recipe is just so nutritionally impressive I had to do it... If you cut your 9x9 square into 9 brownies, each brownie has 100 calories, 2 grams of fat, and a whopping 5 grams of protein! Pack these for your next ride instead of a Cliff bar!
**If you were wondering, if you use dried black beans, this is a <$1 recipe too!


  1. this sounds like a great post swim snack!!

  2. Becky, yes! The carb to protein ratio is about 3:1, which is really close to the 2.5 to 1 ratio that's ideal for recovery. (If you want more details on the carb to protein ratio, a study talking about it is cited in this post:

  3. ok I think I am going to have time to make these this weekend! last nights less than stellar Anna's (which I normally like - I think it was a combo of me ordering something too spicy and them making it spicier than normal) convinced me that I need to have something easy to bring to the pool for those "so hungry post swim that I can't wait to get back to the office and make PB and toast" nights!

  4. also I just love the idea of healthy brownies!!

  5. awesome!! i hope you did have time and they came out well :)

  6. i made them and were pretty good for a first attempt.. I think I used too many beans (I started from dry and measured 1.5-1.75 cups after cooking but packed them down - googling found a similar recipes that says 1.5 c or 250g as a sub so I am going to try weighing next time!) and probably should have cooked the beans to a mushier texture but they grew on me as the week went on so I am definitely up for trying them again and messing around w/ the ingredient ratios more! I popped a couple in the freezer as a test and plan to eat them after swimming tonight.. the rest are long gone :)

  7. 1 can works out to 1.5- 1.75c wet black beans. you definitely don't want to add any more than 2c wet, no packing down! and yes, mushier black beans than you would want to eat helps make them easier to process. i'll try to be better about putting "can" and "cup" amounts for all my bean recipes!