The fact that they’re healthy-ish is an added bonus. The real purpose is to celebrate a protein-packed superfood (black beans), which you won’t taste in the finished dessert; they’re fudgy and chocolatey with a little Mexican flair, and are guaranteed to blow your mind.
Baking with Black Beans
As I saw my friend’s recipe for black bean ice cream go viral because of a couple of TikTok videos, I became increasingly curious about the use of beans in desserts, and if there was something there for me to start experimenting with. Beans are a very interesting ingredient to me. They’re one of the oldest (documented) ingredients in human history, and carry important significance for different cultures across the globe.
While broad beans and chickpeas were known and consumed in the old world, the most common beans and legumes we eat today originated in Mesoamerica and spread to South America around the second millennium BCE—as with other crops, it was only a matter of time after the discovery of the Americas for beans to spread around the world.
Related Reading: The Best Way to Use All the Beans in Your Pantry
They are known globally as one of the most important sources of protein. It’s no wonder that they have gained cult status in many cultures. Much like in Mexican cuisine, beans are a big deal across Latin American cultures and cuisines, a result of celebrating indigenous ingredients, and colonial peasant/slave meals that mostly consisted of leftover meat or organs in a hearty bean stew. Dishes like the Colombian bandeja paisa and the Brazilian feijoada are national dishes that center around beans.
As you can see, my approach and interest in testing and developing a good tasting bean brownie recipe has more to do with wanting to celebrate the ingredient (and some of its anthropological aspects), rather than a quest for healthy sweets—the fact that these are in fact healthier and pretty tasty is an absolute bonus, and a treat.
During my research I found that the most common complaint with the black bean dessert recipes out there was that most people found them to be unappetizing and ultimately a health food, not a delicious one. I decided to test the two most popular (and best sounding) recipes I could find. I had a taste test with my neighbor (a self-described brownie connoisseur), and made some assessments.
I combined what I thought worked well, made some tweaks, and added my own spin—namely, I made my black bean brownies have a hint of Mexican chocolate, by adding cinnamon and a pinch of chili powder. The results were amazing; these brownies have great fudge-forward flavor and texture, and they can stand with any traditional brownies you know and love.
Black Bean Brownie Recipe
It’s gluten-free, vegan, one-bowl, fudgy deliciousness. Just plan on letting the brownies set in the fridge for at least half an hour, and preferably overnight. And be sure to buy dairy-free chocolate chips if you need the recipe to be 100 percent vegan.
- 1 15-ounce can of black beans (drain and rinse very well)
- 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
- ½ cup quick oats
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon chili powder
- ½ cup pure maple syrup (feel free to substitute honey or agave syrup, or if preferred use 2 tablespoons of sugar or a sugar substitute)
- ¼ cup melted refined coconut oil
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ⅔ cup chocolate chips (use dairy-free dark chocolate chips to keep it vegan)
- Extra chocolate chips, morsels, or shavings for garnish
- Preheat oven to 350º F. Grease an 8 × 8-inch pan.
- Combine all ingredients except chocolate chips in a food processor.
- Blend really well until batter looks properly combined and smooth.
- Stir in the chocolate chips, then pour into prepared pan. Sprinkle additional chocolate on top, if using. 5Bake the black bean brownies 15-18 minutes.
- Remove from oven and cool, then cover and refrigerate overnight. (You can cut and try them sooner, but I highly recommend letting them set in the refrigerator overnight.)
Cuisinart 3-Cup Mini Prep Plus Food Processor, $39.95 from Sur La Table
A small food processor will suffice for this recipe.
Related Reading: Healthy Dessert Ingredient Swaps So You Can Indulge More Often
Header image courtesy of Guillermo Riveros