Tag Archives: brownies

Black Bean Brownies

black bean brownieThis recipe is from the archives. These brownies were made for my mother for her birthday dinner back in March, but as I was thumbing through my recipes (you know, the ones that I have stowed away with the best of intentions to post) I stumbled across them, and decided they were just too good not to share with you. Besides, they are full of fiber, gluten and sugar-free. But aside from health benefits (if you can call it that – this still is, after all, a brownie), these babies are brimming with rich chocolate flavor. (And if you’re wondering, no, they don’t taste “beany” at all!) They make a wonderful, simple dessert as is, but they could always be adorned with a ball of ice cream on top (for my Mom’s birthday, I used them as a base for a hot fudge sundae). I found this glorious recipe from Heidi at 101 Cookbooks, who found it through Ania Catalano’s Baking with Agave Nectar. If these brownies are any indication of how awesome Ania’s recipes are, perhaps I need to pick up a copy of this book myself!

Black Bean Brownies, adapted from Ania Catalano

4 oz unsweetened chocolate
1 c unsalted butter
2 c canned black beans, drained well
1 c walnuts, chopped
1 T vanilla extract
¼ c (granulated) instant coffee
¼ t sea salt
4 large eggs
1½ c light agave nectar (or honey)

 Preheat the oven to 325°F. Line an 11- by 18-inch (rimmed) baking pan with parchment paper and lightly oil.

Melt the chocolate and butter in a glass bowl in the microwave for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes on high. Stir with a spoon to melt the chocolate completely. Place the beans, 1/2 cup of the walnuts, the vanilla extract, and a couple of spoonfuls of the melted chocolate mixture into the bowl of a food processor. Blend about 2 minutes, or until smooth. The batter should be thick and the beans smooth. Set aside.

In a large bowl, mix together the remaining 1/2 cup walnuts, remaining melted chocolate mixture, instant coffee, and salt. Mix well and set aside.

In a separate bowl, with an electric mixer beat the eggs until light and creamy, about 1 minute. Add the agave nectar and beat well. Set aside.

Add the bean/chocolate mixture to the coffee/chocolate mixture. Stir until blended well.

Add the egg mixture, reserving about 1/2 cup. Mix well. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Using an electric mixer, beat the remaining 1/2 cup egg mixture until light and fluffy. Drizzle over the brownie batter. Use a wooden toothpick to pull the egg mixture through the batter, creating a marbled effect. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until the brownies are set. Let cool in the pan completely before cutting into squares. (They will be soft until refrigerated.)

 Makes about 28 3-4 inch brownies.

Update: I am so excited about the flexibility in this recipe. A Dash of Sass created a raspberry brownie cake with this recipe, and it looks absolutely amazing! I was so inspired, that I’m in the process of making this for my mother-in-law for her birthday!  Check it out – it looks divine!

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Filed under Baked goods, Beans, Desserts, Gluten-Free, Vegetarian

The Best Brownies in the World

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Yes, I realize that I am sounding quite complacent, announcing to you that these brownies are “The Best Brownies in the World.” After all, how many brownies have you enjoyed in your lifetime? If you are like me, likely you cannot recall each brownie, and likely, you couldn’t even begin to rank them from worst to best. I doubt I could list my top 5 brownies ever. So, you ask, how can I be sure that this is the best brownie? Well, my best, most well-thought-out answer?

Because I say so.

But I will explain more about that in a moment.

Of course, we as a society cannot even agree on what makes a brownie “the best brownie.” It’s definitely a subject for debate. Some insist cakey brownies are king. Some love fudgy. Some are purists and insist chocolate-only, some enjoy nuts. And let’s not even get started on whether frosting, cream cheese, or fruit belongs in or on a brownie. For a dessert that is so universally loved, it’s hard to define exactly what makes that dessert so great.

What makes a brownie the “best brownie in the world”, for me? I’m a bit of a purist. Nuts are acceptable (not preferred), but a real brownie does not have frosting, cream cheese, or any creative, extravagant ingredients. I enjoy those things at times, but when I think of a brownie, this is the criteria: The brownie must be chewy and fudgy. No cakey brownies for me – I like cakes that are brownie-like, but not brownies that are cake-like. And they must be intensely chocolatey, so I very much prefer those made with a high-quality melted chocolate. Cocoa powder just cannot deliver that chocolate flavor that makes your knees go weak and your eyes roll back in your head. In order for a brownie to be the “best”, it must consume me with its chocolatey-ness.

In the interest of full disclosure, I have delayed in sharing this recipe with you. Not because I don’t care. I do. I want you to enjoy the pleasures that this brownie has to give. It’s just…well…I made the recipe the first time, and was so impressed with it, that we ate all of the brownies before a picture was taken! And the second time? You would think I would have learned my lesson, especially with children around, but I didn’t get a picture taken that time either! So, third time is a charm. If it is any consolation, they are well worth the wait.

This recipe originally came from Saveur magazine, and were named Katherine Hepburn’s Brownies. I modified them to include the addition of miniature chocolate chips, and I cut the quantity of nuts back (or omitted them entirely, as I did with the most recent batch). These brownies are dense, with perfectly chewy edges (my favorite part) that almost remind you of a chocolate biscotti, only moister and chewier. They are just sweet enough, with enough salt to really allow the chocolate flavor to sing. And that delicate, glossy, crackly crust! Of course, they taste amazing on their own, with a glass of milk, or as my husband requests, still warm, with ice cream on top.

After this most recent batch, I announced to my husband that I had just made the best brownies in the world. My rationale, besides “Because I say so”, was that I could not think of a thing to do to improve them. They were perfect. I’m sure I’m biased, but I hope you agree!

8 T unsalted butter, plus more for greasing

2 oz. unsweetened chocolate

1 c sugar

2 eggs, beaten

1/2 t vanilla extract

1/2 c chopped walnuts (optional – I did not include them in this batch)

1/2 c semi-sweet chocolate chips (I used the mini ones)

1/4 c flour

1/4 t kosher salt

Heat oven to 325 degrees. Grease an 8″ X 8″ baking pan with butter. Line the pan with parchment paper, grease the paper. Set aside.

Melt the butter and the chocolate together in a 2-quart saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. Remove the pan from heat and stir in the sugar. Add the eggs and vanilla and stir to make a smooth batter. Add the nuts, if using, the chocolate chips, flour, and salt, stir until incorporated. Pour the batter into the baking pan and spread evenly. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 40-45 minutes. Let cool on a rack. Cut and serve.

Hint – letting brownies cool is the hardest part. The smell will be amazing and overpowering, and it will require all of your willpower to resist. But if you wish to cut neat, square brownies, then wait you must. The brownies will cut (instead of crumble) with a sharp knife once they are mostly cool. Of course, if you don’t care how crumbly your brownies are, then dig right in!

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Filed under Baked goods, Desserts