Amazing Black Bean Brownies Recipe

This quirky, yet amazing black bean brownie recipe delivers deliciously dense, bite-sized squares of melt-in-your-mouth fudge-textured brownies.

Amazing Black Bean Brownies

It kills me that I can't take credit for today's black bean brownies. As strange as it sounds (we're talking about brownies packed with pureed black beans), this recipe from a new book by Ania Catalano delivers deliciously dense, bite-sized squares of melt-in-your-mouth fudge-textured brownies. Keep in mind I'm someone who comes across hundreds of brownie recipes a year, it wasn't high on my to-do list to feature yet another brownie recipe. But the quirky ingredient list piqued my curiosity, and in the end the proof was in the pan. Ania mentions that this flourless brownie was the most sought-after recipe at her restaurant and bakery.

Ania's new book is called Baking with Agave Nectar. I was lucky enough to spend some time with a preview copy of it, and even wrote a blurb for the back cover. There are many reasons people are looking to alternative sweeteners. I wrote (and used) agave nectar in Super Natural Cooking for a number of recipes, but you might also try date syrup, coconut nectar, or maple syrup. People looking for sweeteners lower on the glycemic index explore agave nectar, as do many hypoglycemics, diabetics, and people with certain allergies. That being said, don't make the mistake of dismissing it as some sort of "health" or "diet" ingredient. The real reason for chef and home cooks alike to try it (if you haven't already) is because it tastes amazing - it really has its own thing going on. I won't get into all the specifics here, but I encourage you to give it a try. Ania's book is a great starting point for those of you who want to learn to bake with agave nectar in place of the typical white refined sugar called for in so many baking recipes. I also get into many of the specific characteristics of it in the "Use Natural Sweeteners" chapter of SNC with a few recipes that highlight it.

Amazing Black Bean Brownies Recipe

So, like I said - there are some quirky facets to this particular brownie recipe. Black bean brownies, really? Yes! And now I'm totally enamored with the use of the black bean batter, it really worked, not even a hint of beany flavor. Consequently, my head is now spinning with all sorts of thoughts about how I might use other pulses in future baking adventures.

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Amazing Black Bean Brownie Recipe

For those of you who have a hard time tracking down agave nectar (which is becoming much more readily available) substitute honey 1:1 for the agave nectar. Ania's head notes encourage you to keep these brownies in the refrigerator, they will slice much better if refrigerated several hours or preferably overnight. I used instant coffee this time around, but you can find natural coffee substitute at many natural food stores.

4 ounces unsweetened chocolate
1 cup unsalted butter
2 cups soft-cooked black beans, drained well (hs: 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 (hs note: 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.)

Makes 45 (2-inch) brownies.

Reprinted with permission from Baking With Agave Nectar: Over 100 Recipes Using Nature's Ultimate Sweetener by Ania Catalano. (Ten Speed Press 2008)

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What could be substituted for the coffee? We are not coffee drinkers and can tell when there's coffee in a recipe. Otherwise, I'm totally trying this (if you have a suggestion for coffee substitute). Thanks! :)


Wow. Huh. Black beans. Who'dathunkit? Definitely on the "to try" list. Like Angela, I'm wondering about the coffee aspect. Can you expand on that a little? I'm assuming it means a quarter-cup of coffee powder (whether ersatz or instant). Do you think espresso powder would work?


Yum! I've been meaning to experiment more with beans in baking, especially after trying a bean bread in Home Baking, by Alford and Duguid. Bean puree is an excellent substitute for chestnut puree, as here.


What a neat idea. I'm a fan of agave nectar, and I've eaten scrumptious white bean pies that were reminiscent of a sweet potato pie. A great way to sneak in healthy fiber for m bean-loathing kids, too.


is that 1/4 cup prepared or dry (ground) coffee?


I would really be interested in the nutritional info for this. I have been... (do I dare say the "d" word) dieting... There I said it... I've found that so many of your recipes are so good for me and so helpful in my journy. A sweet would be really nice... especially if it won't totally wipe out my... diet. ;-)


The first time I had ever heard of Black Bean Brownies was from a friend who follows Weight Watchers. Apparently it was quite a hit a few years ago in the weight loss circles because the beans contributed to the overall fiber count per serving, thus lower "points." I thought they tasted pretty good... Not 'beany' like I originally thought...


My dad used to make a white bean custard pie when I was young, sweetened with honey and baked in a whole wheat crust, and it was GOOD! I'm going to have to see if I can find it, cause I would love to share it with you.


I first tried a version of these years ago -- the woman who made them called them "Black Bear" brownies... and refused to tell us why they were so named -- or the "secret ingredient" until after we'd eaten every last morsel and raved about them, at which point she revealed their true name/composition.


These look great! Any suggestions for replacing the eggs in the recipe? Applesauce? Thanks!!


I am just wondering if a stick of butter is a lot for a tray of brownies or is that fairly typical? These look very yummy!

Peg Donovan

These look SO interesting! I have to try them, and like you, my head is already spinning with new ideas. Yay!


Thank you for your wonderful site. Trader Joe's now carries organic blue agave sweetener.


I am going to try these! It will be fun to take them to work and have people eat them and THEN tell them there were black beans in them...I can see the faces now! They look amazing!


Wow, these look amazingly dense and fudgy. I still can't make up my mind about the whole agave nectar thing. It's low GI because it is full of fructose, rather than glucose. Eating lots of fructose isn't terribly good for you either and some studies have found that it raises triglyceride levels. As you say, not necessarily a health food. Those brownies still look great mind!


Hmm, I might try these since my husband LOVES brownies - I'd love to see the nutritional info on these....


I could never imagine a brownie recipe like this one,chocolate and black beans. But it sure looks delicious. I must try it


I'd be really curious to try this. Beans don't scare me in a sweet recipe (I love mochi!) Not sure I can get agave nectar in Italy, though. Honey it is!

Sara, Ms. Adventures in Italy

Black Bean Brownies. You're scaring me...v


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