Okay, I know that “healthy” and “brownie” should probably not be in the same sentence. I also know that my first reaction to reading about vegan brownies made with… black beans was “Huh?!” But trust me, this stuff is incredible. Both me and my boyfriend (and we are foodies!) agreed that they are actually tastier than the real thing, and at only 115 calories per serving, this is now officially my new favorite dessert!
Want to know more? Read on!
The original recipe comes from the Chocolate Covered Katie blog (which is an AMAZING resource for healthy vegan desserts!) and can be found here. I tweaked it a little bit to suit my taste (less sweet and a little dryer in texture) and also added a vegan coconut-lemon frosting (original Detoxinista recipe can be found here).
It’s super easy to make and you probably have most of the ingredients in your pantry – all of the specialty ingredients can be substituted without affecting the end result too much.
Ingredients (makes 9 servings):
- 1.5 cups cooked* or canned black beans
- 2 tbsp cocoa powder (I use Hershey’s Natural Unsweetened which got the best ratings from Cook’s Illustrated)
- 1/2 cup rolled oats, blended in the Vitamix
- 1 tsp ground flaxseed & 1 tsp coconut flour (optional)
- pinch of salt, 1 turn of the pepper grinder
- 1/4 cup grade B maple syrup, agave or honey (if the honey is very sweet, you might need less)
- 2 tbsp brown sugar or appropriate amount of stevia
- 4 tbsp virgin coconut oil or other non-hydrogenated oil (unrefined coconut will infuse the brownies with its taste – if you don’t like coconut, better to choose a neutral oil)
- 1.5 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp baking powder
- about 1/3 cup bittersweet chocolate chips (I use Ghirardelli 60% Cacao) or cacao nibs
* soak 1/2 cup of black beans overnight. Cook without salt in plenty of water till soft, min 90 minutes. Soak in hot or cold water for a couple of hours if you want to make sure you get rid of any bean taste.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Put aside chocolate chips. Mix all other ingredients in a food processor till they are nice and smooth. It’s always a good idea to stop approximately half way and scrape the bottom with a spatula to make sure that there’s no gunk stuck on there. In my cheap processor it took about 5 minutes, that will obviously be less if you have a state-of-the-art Cuisinart.
With a spoon, mix in the chocolate chips.
Use coconut oil (or the oil you are using) to grease an oven-proof dish. These do not rise much in the oven, so you might not want to spread the batter out too thin. Bake for 20-25 minutes, depending on how you like your brownies (I like mine less “fudgy”, so I tend to bake them a little longer. If you like yours super soft, you might want to take them out after 18 minutes or so).
The end result is a dense, moist, DELICIOUS chocolate brownie with a hint of coconut! And the best part? It’s healthy, high in protein and low in calories! Although you would never know it from the taste – it is an indulgent dessert and I dare you to feed it to some skeptic without mentioning what’s really in there. I’m sure you’ll get some very interesting reactions.
The frosting is optional, and mine also didn’t turn out quite right (completely my error though – didn’t clean the vitamix after grinding the flax seed and oats, so it turned out crumbly instead of creamy), but it also tastes amazing! It’s coconutty and sweet with a slight tang from the lemon juice. Not nearly as low in calories as the brownies, but hey, dessert is dessert.
Frosting (makes enough for 1 batch of brownies):
- 3 tbsp melted coconut oil
- 1/6 cup almond milk (room temperature)
- 1.5 tbsp honey (or maybe agave?)
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- nanopinch of salt
- 1 tbsp coconut flour
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
Combine all ingredients in blender, blend till creamy (really quick in the vitamix), then pour into bowl and refrigerate for a couple of hours (overnight is best). It will melt if you put it on hot brownies, so better to let those cool off first!