In an ideal world, we would get nutrients from everything we ate. Even dessert. And it wouldn’t necessarily have to taste “healthy”, “smart”, or any of those other terrifying adjectives that should never exist within the realm of your sweet tooth. If I could have arugula ice cream I would–that is, if I could get a guarantee it would taste nothing like arugula, and everything like creamy smooth sugar happiness. And afterwards I would be packed full of vitamins A, B, C, and hell, even D, and feel great. Then I would also go for a run.
Well, this world doesn’t quite exist (yet). But I have figured out a way for us to get some hefty protein without having to eat burgers or brats and then getting the farts (wait, is that just me..?). And the best part is, with the right spice combination its like eating a warm spicy chai, on a cute little plate, with a dainty little fork (if it suits you). Beans can belong in brownies, people. I swear.
I have found myself living in a new city this year. I am financially wobbly at the knees, yet incessantly tortured by a voracious sweet tooth. If you and I are in similar situations, you may have found yourself staring at cans of beans that you swear must be reproducing in some sort of asexual phenomenon and said to yourself, can I really put this in my body again? Really?
There’s this whole “money responsibility” thing that is expected of me now, which gives the illusion that my string of cravings and caprices is somewhat…inappropriate. So when I want something decadently smooth yet complex with earthy flavors, I just can’t afford to. So alas, I’m stuck in the pantry staring at a can of beans. Well. I’m a lazy girl, but when that hankerin’ for sugar says go, I have no choice: I must find a means of justification.
Well sirs, if you have never been in this stressful situation, I shake my head because your taste buds have been placated with Chips Ahoy. But if you and I are alike? Oh, good news! You can put those damn beans in brownies and call it substantial! Indulgently substantial!
Pureeing black bean and mixing it into your batter creates a delicate texture for the crumb, and keeps them beautifully moist for their entire lifespan. Walnut adds a crunch on top to completes your protein needs, and makes a great contrast to the chewy-soft brownie. And that sprinkle of sea salt guarantees addiction. Who doesn’t want addiction?
I should give a warning, though. These brownies will be more filling, what with the added density, but by no means does that mean you won’t want to eat 4 or 5. Watch yourself. Or, don’t, and just be plain flipping ecstatic about it like I was.
Black Bean Chai Brownies
adapted from Joy the Baker
1/3 cup black beans, drained
1 teaspoon cardamom
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/3 teaspoon ginger
half stick unsalted butter (1/4 cup)
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/3 cup unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 1/4 cup sugar
2 eggs plus 1 white
2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Cut parchment paper to fit an 8×8″ pan. Butter generously and dust with flour. These brownies are very moist and like to stick.
Place butter and chocolates in a bowl of a double boiler, or over a pot filled with about 2 inches of water. Do not let the water touch your bowl. You are melting your ingredients with steam here. Try to have your bowl fit the mouth of the pot as well as possible, so you don’t get steam burn while you are stirring.
Melt the chocolate and butter over the boiling water until completely uniform and silky. Remove from heat and let cool a bit.
While you are waiting, place your black beans, cardamom, cinnamon and ginger in a food processor, blender, or bowl to mash. Purée as smooth and consistent as possible so the bean skins don’t stand out too much in your final product.
Whisk eggs, egg white and vanilla together. Incorporate into chocolate mixture. Make sure your chocolate has cooled enough so that it doesn’t cook the egg. You do not want scrambled eggs in your chocolate. Add sugar to mixture.
Combine black bean purée with chocolate mixture. Sift your dry ingredients together and add to chocolate, mixing as you go, and incorporating until just combined.
Pour batter into your prepared pan. Dot with raw walnuts (they will get toasted during the baking process since they are left on the surface) and sprinkle with sea salt as your palate deems worthy.
Bake for about 35 minutes, or until center is solid to touch and sides are pulling away from the pan slightly. Cool.
Eat, eat eat.