“Black Bean Brownies.” When I say these words together, people look at me like I’ve just offered them skunk on a skewer. Even my friend Tim wrinkled his face in disgust (over our vegan Thai dinner at Dao Palate last night) as I exclaimed that those were my project for the next day. But I’ve seen a lot of recipes for them and wanted to give them a try. After all, if avocado chocolate pudding was good, why not black bean brownies? And they’re gluten free (the beans act as a substitute for flour) and I’ve been promising my gluten-intolerant friend Erin some gluten-free recipes for some time now.
So, in my search for recipes, of course my favorite blog had just what I was looking for. Almost. The original recipe is here but I altered it quite a bit. See, I didn’t want to make a “healthy” brownie and then throw in a whole stick of butter. I’m sure it tastes amazing with a whole stick of butter, but it wasn’t quite as guilt-free as I wanted. So I did some research on butter substitutes in baking, and found out that if you’re baking something dark colored (like brownies), pureed prunes and maybe a touch of oil will substitute nicely. It was worth a shot. If the brownies were a disgusting mess, I’d just throw them out and try again with butter. Or oil. The other issue is that I don’t own an 11 by 18 inch baking pan – only 9 by 13 and smaller – so I divided the whole recipe by 3/4. So much room for disaster and failure it’s ridiculous. Substituting butter with prunes, using the wrong size pan, making 3/4 of the recipe (not even a nice round 1/2!), leaving out the walnuts (personally I like them, but I planned to give some of these to other people and some people aren’t nuts about nuts in brownies) and using espresso instead of coffee substitute. The whole time I was making them I couldn’t help thinking “these are going to be gross… so gross.”
Taste tester #1: Me! (come on, I’m not feeding crazy hippie brownies to other people without trying them first). NOT gross. Good! You can’t really taste the beans or prunes. I think the addition of the coffee is a crucial to mask the flavor. And as someone pointed out on Heidi’s blog, you could also add peanut butter if so inclined. They are fudgy, rich, and dense, just like brownies should be. They do taste kind of health-food-y… but, well, they are.
Taste testers # 2 and 3 will weigh in later… updates to follow.
(Side note: I felt it was my blogging duty to add a warning label. One probably should not consume too many of these at a time. Beans and prunes… both well known for their “digestive benefits.”)