Okay, okay. Yes, I was disgusted by this idea when I heard about it a couple of years ago, too. Just like I was when I heard about carrots in cakes, and zucchinis in cookies, and other instances of vegetables and “health foods” finding their way into my desserts. Desserts are supposed to be decadent, sugary, chocolaty goodness. And, actually, these brownies are just that–black beans and all.
The black beans take the place of the flour, and agave nectar takes the place of all that sugar. What?! You haven’t heard of agave nectar. Me neither, until recently. I actually picked up a bottle at…get this…Wal-Mart. Yep, the good ole Wally World, in Lima, carries a surprisingly wide range of “natural” sweeteners. I was interested in trying this so-called miracle sweetener, so I bought a bottle. Then I researched it. Bad idea. Always do it the other way–research THEN buy. Oh well. I’m not entirely convinced about this whole agave nectar trend (note: follow-up post to come…), but I thought it was at least worth trying.
I found the original recipe at Cookbooks 101—just the pictures of these foods makes me want to try every recipe she has listed (obviously, you should check out the pictures there, instead of here. I’m still working on photographing food…in dim light…with a new camera). I tweaked it a bit—mostly because I ran out of certain ingredients, and a little because I actually wanted my husband to eat them. Warning…it is a bit labor intensive, simply because it involves 3 bowls of ingredients, and I have almost zero counter-space, so maybe I was just cranky.
2 cups cooked black beans (canned is fine)
3 ounces unsweetened, organic, dark chocolate
¾ cup unsalted butter
1 tablespoon vanilla extract (almond would be fine, too)
¼ teaspoon sea salt
4 large eggs
1 cup agave nectar (honey or maple syrup would work well, too)
a sprinkle of coffee grounds (expresso powder, or even cocoa powder may be good…)
Optional: chopped nuts, confectioners sugar
I used a little less chocolate, as I had a few candy bars Eric picked up equaling 3 oz. I also used a tad less butter because I had just got done cooking dinner and I needed ¼ cups for that-I didn’t want to open another stick. I also used ½ cup less agave nectar, because the bottle only equaled 1 cup. Oh, well. The original recipe called for ½ cup of chopped walnuts, but I’m not a big nut person. I used about half that, thinking that maybe they were crucial for holding all of the other ingredients together. This doesn’t seem to be the case, so more or less could be used. I’m also not a big fan of coffee, but I thought coffee would be a nice, strong flavor to cover any “beany flavor” that might linger, so I pulled an Emeril and just sprinkled some in. I used Eric’s favorite grounds, as opposed to instant—I really don’t know if you’re supposed to use non-instant grounds…As a final thought, I sprinkled some confectioners sugar on top to entice Eric, but this definitely wasn’t necessary for sweetness.
Preheat oven to 325.
Line a 11×18 rimmed pan with parchment paper, and spray with canola oil. I used stoneware, without the paper or spray, and it didn’t stick. NOTE: I would like to try this again with a smaller pan, as the brownies were a bit thin.
Bowl 1: *(use a bigger bowl, as more ingredients will be added later…mistake #1 for me…)
Melt butter and chocolate in microwave. Melt on 30 second intervals, stirring in between, until melted.
Bowl 2/Food Processor/Blender:
Pulse black beans, vanilla extract, nuts, and a few spoonfuls of the melted chocolate until smooth.
Back to Bowl 1:
Add remaining nuts, coffee, and salt into the remaining melted chocolate. Stir well.
Use an electric mixer to beat the eggs until light and creamy, about 1 minute. Add the agave nectar and beat well.
Back to Bowl 1:
Add the bean mixture from Bowl 2/Food Processor/Blender to the chocolate mixture in Bowl 1. Stir well. Add all but ½ cup of the egg mixture from Bowl 3. Stir well.
Pour the combined mixture into the pan.
Use an electric mixer to beat the remaining ½ cup of egg mixture until light and fluffy.
Drizzle the egg mixture on top of the brownie batter in the pan. Use a toothpick to pull the mixture through the batter.
The original recipe also says to cook for 30-40 minutes. Being used to boxes mixes, I usually take things out a few minutes ahead of time. I took these out right at 30 minutes, but I definitely think closer to the 40 minute mark would have been better. The edges had a nice crisp texture, but the middle was still quite soft and mushy. NOTE: The final texture of the brownies are supposed to be a bit mushier than normal brownies. I would compare the texture to a thicker chocolate mousse, maybe? Definitely a fudgier brownie…Definitely a fork brownie and not a finger brownie.
Refrigerating will help to solidify them a bit more.
And the verdict was…Yum! I served them to Eric, who knew something was up with them because I wouldn’t let him in the kitchen while I was baking them. He ate them like a champ. He did mention that they should have been cooked a bit longer, but said he would eat them again. He finished about 4 brownies before I asked him if he wanted to know what was in them. He said “no” because he actually liked them and wanted to eat them again! Score!
Anybody else have a good recipe for vegetable desserts or bean desserts?