Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Black Bean Brownies

black beans

Black Bean Brownies. Black Bean Brownies?!

When I first stumbled upon this recipe, I was a little bit repulsed. It seemed sort of gross, beans as the main ingredient in brownies? I kept coming back to it though, and the idea grew on me.

It doesn’t make any sense, but these are good. Not the best brownie ever, by any means, but good. I’m not even sure if brownie is the right word for these, black bean fudge might be better. There’s a lot going on - the coffee flavor, the agave nectar, and of course the beans and the chocolate. Somehow it all works together.

I made mine in an 8x8 baking pan instead of a jelly roll pan, and I have to say that I think they would have been better thinner. Mine were super gooey - a little too gooey. The ones on the outer edge were much better than those in the center, because they were firmer. Also, I found the coffee flavor a little over powering, I’d definitely cut it down, probably half it, if I made these again.

Will I make them again? Probably not, but it’s an interesting option if you're gluten intolerant or diabetic.

black bean brownie

Black Bean Brownie Recipe
From 101 cookbooks

4 ounces unsweetened chocolate
1 cup unsalted butter
2 cups soft-cooked black beans, drained well ( canned is fine)
1 cup walnuts, chopped
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
¼ cup (granulated) natural coffee substitute (or instant coffee, for gluten-sensitive)
¼ teaspoon sea salt
4 large eggs
1½ cups light agave nectar

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

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, coffee substitute, 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.)

Just a quick note: I realized today I've been having a lot of real emails go into my spam folder instead of my inbox. If you've seen me an email in the past and I haven't responded, that's why! I'm so sorry, feel free to send it again. :)


  1. hi hannah,

    i saw this recipe on Heidi's when it first came up and have since been meaning to give it a try. being a Japanese, the idea of using beans as the main ingredient in desserts/baked goods isn't THAT odd (we use lots of adzuki and other beans), so that part didn't gross me out. :) i could totally imagine it when you tweeted that this is a nightmare to take pictures of, but you pulled it off really well, as you'd do with pretty much everything else - you're such a fantastic photographer. cheers!

  2. I was wondering about this recipe and hadn't tried it, yet. Maybe I'll move on from that idea :) The pictures turned out great and make them look completely appetizing!

  3. I've seen these, and am intrigued as well. I love beans, so i think i may like them. Like you said, as long as youre not expecting the best brownie of your life, they are probably a nice alternative.

  4. interesting... when you mentioned this on twitter is what like WHAT?! but they don't look too bad. Your photo is just lovely of course!

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  6. I've seen similar before and have to say I have been fully intrigued. I think they are something I would try once, perhaps a love or hate type of brownie eh?! A nice flourless alternative! Your pictures are lovely as always.

  7. Hmmm, this sounds interesting. I'm not sure I'd make them but it's interesting.

  8. I have always, always wondered about these...but hesitated because if I'm going to make chocolate brownies, I'm going for the real deal. Thanks for your honest opinion. Maybe one day when I'm feeling adventurous...or when I have an over abundance of canned beans.

  9. I'm glad to hear your take on these because like some of the other commentors, I've been very curious about these. I don't find myself in front of a brownie all that often (which is sad, I know) so I might stick with the classic if I need to make them- but good for my gluten free friends!

  10. That sounds very interesting indeed. I know that a couple of bloggers have tried making them before, with mixed responses. I might try this recipe using lima beans (my favourite daifuku filling) instead, because it's a flavour that I know I'll like. Not that I don't like black beans, I've just never had them before.

    I think you did a marvelous job in photographing the brownie--the light catches it in the most beautiful way!

  11. I just made brownies last week using black beans. The recipe did not call for any type of fat. I was pleasantly surprised at how good they were. I could not taste the beans.
    I did not use coffee for flavor, just vanilla.
    I did however use dark chocolate chips instead of the semi-sweet in which case the next time I make these I will add a wee bit more sugar.
    They get my thumbs up.

  12. How does one get from being repulsed to...well I had better make it? This is going in the same mental file as Joy The Bakers vegan cake with avocado buttercream for me. "Wierd Experimental Baking to try should the world run out of delicious ingredients"

    Lol sorry...I'm one to talk, my fave is beetroot cake

  13. I agree with the first commenter. :) I'm Chinese and we use a lot of sweetened beans in our desserts, so this idea makes sense to me. That said, though, we typically don't use the beans as part of the actual 'dough'--usually it's a filling, or part of a dessert soup. I'd be curious to try this! They look, actually, fairly healthy, as desserts go.

  14. I've always wondered about these. I think I'll stick to my regular chocolate. :)

  15. you're braver than me...i like my black beans in salsa

  16. Hannah, that is certainly a new one on me. Now you've got me wanting to make them simply because I can not imagine the taste!

  17. OH my dear... this looks and sound yummy!! I love black beans, a little crazy that you can make brownies out of them but I will have to try this recipe!!! xo

  18. I made a similar recipe for black bean brownies last year, with similar results. I wouldn't call them brownies either! But they weren't really that bad taste wise, just not something I'd ever crave or bring as a dessert to a party!

  19. That sounds really interesting. I would've never thought of making brownies with black beans! Why not? I will have to try it.

  20. I love your honesty in your review. I was thinking about black bean brownies the other day because there are a few cookbooks out there which use black beans as a way of sneaking healthy ingredients into the foods kids like to eat.

  21. wow...i dont thinkso i have ever heard or tasted black bean brownies!! sounds interesting thou! as long as there is chocolate then its kewl :)

  22. Hmmm. My mom has something of a wheat allergy so I'm always looking to make treats for her that are wheat-free. I may have to try these brownies! Of course, if I tell her that they are made with beans I'm not sure she'll go for it! Maybe I can trick her... Are they good enough to be trick-worthy? I guess I'll hav eto try it and find out.

  23. i've never tried this myself, but i've always heard wonderful things about them. black bean fudge, eh? sounds good to me. :)

  24. You brave girl. I've heard good reviews about this brownie, but I'm too scared to try them. : )

    Btw - your photography skills are amazing. Every photo here is wonderful. : )

  25. ah, the infamous black bean brownies. I like them! ... but you're right.. they are more fudgy and sometimes I want a soft cakey brownie

  26. i remember when heidi talked about these and always wondered if i'd like them. thanks for your honesty about the results, though you've still made them look amazing.

  27. Well this is so so different and very interesting,i may even try 'em when my taste buds scream for brownies or crave them....
    You have an interesting blog ,beautiful blog is more like it with stuning pics ....u inspire me....
    way to go sweet Hannah...

  28. What a way to ruin chocolate. Now if you had mint brownies, I would be in. Beautiful photos as always.


  29. Having spent most of my childhood growing up in Hawaii, desserts made with adzuki beans and other sweet beans are familiar and appealing to me.
    I saw this recipe on Heidi's blog and have been meaning to give it a try. I think your brownies look excellent--extremely moist. Great job photographing them as well!

  30. I've seen quite a few recipes for black bean brownies. I've always been somewhat skeptical, but I might have to give them a try. From your photograph, I never would have guessed there were black beans in there. They look beautiful!

  31. I *just* printed out a similar recipe from and am so excited to make them! I think you read my mind!

  32. hannah, your photos are so gorgeous...not just these, but all of them! admittedly i would be squeemish about black bean brownies, i fear strange textures sometimes. these look great and super fudgy...i bet you could trick some unsuspecting snackers into believing they were the butter/sugar/flour kind ;)

  33. I found some interesting sounding pinto bean cake recipes at I tried the spicy pinto bean cake recipe. It was very moist, tasted good, but I probably won't make it again either.


    1 c. butter
    1 c. brown sugar, firmly packed
    1/2 c. white sugar
    4 eggs, separated
    2 c. cooked mashed, drained pinto beans
    2 c. flour
    1/2 tsp. salt
    1/2 tsp. soda
    1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
    1/3 c. cocoa
    1/8 tsp. cloves
    1 tsp. cinnamon
    1/2 tsp. vanilla
    1 c. chopped nuts (black walnuts or pecans)
    Cream butter and sugar together until fluffy, then beat in egg yolks, and beat well. Add mashed pinto beans, spices and vanilla. Sift flour with cocoa, baking powder, soda, salt together 3 times. Beat egg whites stiff not dry, and fold into batter. Put into a greased, floured pan 8 x 11 1/2 inch. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Can be baked in a loaf pan at 325 degrees for 1 hour.


    1/4 c. butter
    2 eggs
    2 c. mashed pinto beans, cooked, unsalted
    1 c. flour
    1/4 tsp. salt
    1 tsp. baking soda
    1/2 tsp. baking powder
    1 c. sugar
    1 tsp. cinnamon
    1/4 tsp. nutmeg
    1/2 tsp. cloves
    2 c. diced apples
    3/4 c. raisins
    1 c. chopped nuts
    1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
    Cream Cheese Frosting (recipe follows)
    Cream butter. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Blend in beans. Sift flour, salt, soda, baking powder, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. Add to creamed mixture, blending well. Fold in apples, raisins, nuts and vanilla. Pour into buttered 9x13x2 inch pan sprayed with Pam. Bake at 375 degrees for 50 to 60 minutes until done.

    3 oz. cream cheese, softened
    1 tbsp. soft butter
    1 1/2 c. powdered sugar
    1/4 c. raisins, chopped
    1/2 tsp. vanilla
    1/4 tsp. rum extract (optional)
    Cream cheese and butter. Blend in sugar gradually, adding raisins and extracts.

  34. I must try this recipe!! You have no idea how excited I am.

  35. I've always been intrigued by these, it's nice when people actually describe how their food tastes :)

  36. Ahhh yes, chocolate and healthy protein all in one...can't beat it :) Fabulous job Hannha, th ey look so moit and delicious!!!

  37. I'm sorry you didn't enjoy them. They have been on my list to try and considering I can't have gluten, it might be a great option (although I have found some pretty awesome GF brownie recipes =D).

  38. very interesting! i can't have gluten so i think i'm going to give this a try.

  39. This idea is growing on me too. I might have to try this recipe. Can't go wrong with chocolate, even if beans are involved :-).

  40. Have you tried Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall's beetroot brownies! They are my favorite - and something that you can be messy with and they still turn out brilliant!

  41. love your photos! i think i actually found the black beans tasty hehe....

    will definitely want to try out the recipes too! cheers from hong kong

  42. Hello there! I just found your blog and everything looks so tasty. The recipes are awesome and your food photography is beautiful! Adding you to my reader!

  43. Found this recipe on Pinterest & made for dessert last night. Possibly best brownies I've ever had. I waited until everyone tried them and loved them to tell them the secret ingredient. Will for sure make these again.

  44. In a large bowl, whisk together the ateş ve su buz devri brown sugar, melted butter, flour and salt. Add in the eggs, maple syrup This dish is really amazing to eat.As there has been mixed many awesome ingredients kaktüs adam so it should be delicious for everyone.I would like to make this dish and will eat with my family.

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