I should be working on the kids’ report cards, especially since they need to be handed out at the end of this week. Yet I can’t stop daydreaming about indulging in these soft, fudge-y, decadently bittersweet, nearly 100% plant-based brownies. Gosh, Hayley, get your head out of the clouds and stop wasting time! Daylight Savings has already taken an hour away from your day.
Well, as my coffee brews and the multiple stacks of ungraded papers stare at me accusingly for neglecting them, I’ve chosen to sit here and write about one of my favorite dessert recipes: Black Bean Fudge Brownies. Most of the people I’ve fed these to have preferred them over the black bean chocolate chip cookies. I’m not entirely sure why because I like the cookies more, but it may have something to do with their texture and how they look like this:
I’m drooling as I ogle these photos that I’m extremely proud of (I think they’re my best ones thus far!). I bet you couldn’t even tell that they’re composed of black beans, avocado, dates, cocoa powder, and coconut oil. I’ll vouch that they don’t taste like black beans. I dare you to make this and feed it to your friends and families without telling them the main ingredients. They won’t be able to tell you that it’s made of legumes, fruit, and vegetables. No added sugar or sweetener of any kind!
For this recipe, it is important that you use good quality cocoa/cacao powder because the chocolate-y, fudge-y taste comes directly from it. Bad cacao will result in mediocre brownies.
I used this cacao powder. I bought it after one of my runs in Fairfax at Good Earth. Oh, and since there’s room for a side by side photo, you’ll also need half a ripe avocado.
I love trying to make recipes healthier. I adapted this already healthy and delicious recipe from Ambitious Kitchen and created the ultimate nutritious brownies filled with fiber, protein, complex carbohydrates, and unsaturated fats (I’m about to go on tangent about the difference between simple and complex carbs, so just skip down if you don’t want to hear it). In this recipe I use dates, and I prefer using dates as a form of ‘sweetener’ in my baking than any other sugar because it isn’t exactly the same as sugar…it’s a fruit.
Sure people use maple syrup, honey, or even agave as opposed to refined white sugar because they’re more natural and may contain more health benefits, but those are still simple carbohydrates and so they pretty much act the same in your bodies as the refined sugars (no bueno for diabetics, sorry!). When consuming simple carbohydrates, glucose is quickly released into your blood stream and causes your blood sugar levels to spike, and therefore your insulin levels rise as well to try to regulate your blood glucose by either making your body use up that energy or storing it for later.
If your body doesn’t immediately use up the energy, the glucose will get stored in your liver or muscle tissue as glycogen, packages of glucose, to be gradually released for use later. However, if your liver storage gets full, which for most people they often are already full, the excess sugar will get stored in your body as fat (AKA: adipose tissue), and when all of those regions of your body are full of fat, the fatty acids start to affect your organs and cause a multitude of health problems. The simple carbohydrates can also cause unstable energy levels, where you can feel extremely energetic for a while and then lethargic. So you see why, when possible, I lean more towards the second form of sugar.
Dates are dried fruits that are naturally sweet (no added sugar). Yes, they contain fructose, which is a simple sugar found in fruits and even some candy. Yet because of the fiber, they are actually complex carbohydrates, which means that the sugar is gradually released into your blood. This results in a more sustained release of energy that you can constantly/consistently use, and a less likelihood of the sugar being converted into stored fat. Complex carbohydrates (fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, etc.) generally come with other health benefits such as more vitamins, minerals, and fiber (which is good for keeping your colon healthy). This is why I prefer to use dates or even bananas as my form of ‘sweetening’ baked goods/desserts. Want more on how insulin and glucose works in our bodies? Click here: Group Health
Now for the moment you’ve all been waiting for!
- 1 1/2 cups cooked black beans or one 15 oz. can of unsalted black beans (drained and rinsed)
- 1/2 ripe avocado
- 2/3 cup of pitted medjool dates or 1/2 cup brown sugar (if you can’t get the dates)
- 2/3 cup of good quality cacao/cocoa powder
- 2 Tbsp chia seeds and 6 Tbsp water (for vegans) or 2 large eggs
- 2 tsps pure vanilla extract
- 1 tsp coconut oil
- 1/4 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 2/3 cups of dark chocolate chips or vegan chocolate chips or chocolate chips of your choice
- Preheat oven to 35o degrees Fahrenheit and if you’re making a vegan version, mix the chia seeds with water in a small bowl and let it sit for about 3-5 minutes so that it gets the ‘egg like’ consistency.
- In a food processor, add the dates, black beans, and avocado. Process until it forms a smooth batter. You’ll probably see some tiny little pieces of the dates, just push them down and try to process them as finely as possible.
- Add the rest of the ingredients (except for the chocolate chips) and process until smooth. The batter should be thick, but if it’s too thick and won’t blend, then add a few tablespoons of almond milk or water.
- Add the 1/3 cup chocolate chips, process, and then spread on an already greased 8×8 baking pan. Top the brownies with the rest of the chocolate chips if you’d like or you can wait until it’s done baking to drizzle melted chocolate over it.
- Bake for about 25-35 minutes. The top of the brownies will look a bit cracked and dry when finished. When a knife is inserted, it should come out clean unless a melted chocolate chip is hanging onto it.
- If you didn’t top with additional chocolate chips, melt some chocolate with olive oil in the microwave (mixed well) and then drizzle it over the brownies when they’re done baking. They come out looking like the one below, and so I definitely prefer the chocolate drizzle for aesthetic purposes. Let them cool and chill in the refrigerator. Eat them chilled! These taste much better once they’ve been refrigerated as opposed to when they come out of the oven (does not taste very good hot out of the oven if you ask me)
The only ‘unhealthy’ thing in the ingredients list might be the chocolate chips, but even then, these brownies are once again a dessert healthy enough for breakfast. They’re also a perfect dessert for kids after dinner due to the sugar content. You won’t be feeding your child a whole bunch of artificial flavors and refined sugar. Rather, your child will be eating legumes that nourishes their minds and bodies without even noticing a difference! I’m a firm believer in having kids develop healthy eating habits at a young age and training their taste buds to enjoy foods that aren’t excessively sweet. This is one way to do that.
Let me know what you think if you make them! Because frankly, I’m in love.
Also, a note to parents, if your child eats healthier foods, you won’t have your hands full with a hyper child. Teachers will also appreciate you more if you don’t send them to school with only chips and cookies for lunch. The spikes and dips in their sugar levels make it difficult for them to focus in class, learn new information, and produce quality work. So yeah, eat dessert, but make it healthy.
Once again, can’t thank Ambitious Kitchen enough for a recipe I could play around with.
Time for me to stop procrastinating and daydreaming. Those fictional narratives are screaming, “Miss Diep, come grade us!”