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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Longtime reader, first time poster– Heidi, you singlehandedly taught me how to cook. Before you I was Chinese food takeout and Amy’s frozen enchiladas– now my life is rich with fresh whole food ingredients and laborious hours before dinner and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I am in my senior year of college and it’s my first time having my own kitchen. I swear, you’re preparing me for life beyond dorm rooms better than anyone else could.
I made these brownies tonight. Unlike some other readers, no beany flavor and I didn’t find them remotely “healthy” tasting. They delighted my gluten intolerant father and one guest ate seven of them before I shocked him with the news about the beans. I couldn’t get any agave (even though I’m in NYC. Couldn’t find it anywhere in my neighborhood. What gives?) I used maple syrup and it worked well but I look forward to trying the recipe with the sweetener that was meant for it.


I can’t quite wrap my head around this idea, but I think I’m just intrigued enough to try it myself! Thanks for featuring the recipe.


This would be a fun treat! All we need is a “salsa” to serve with it.


For those of you who would add rice or barley flour to the recipe, how much would you add? I am thinking of making these for my children.
Also, for the person who posted about the cookies for the child with cancer, is there a recipe?
I have just discovered this site and I just love it! I love Heidi’s writing, and also all of the posts! Everyone is so nice!

Michele H.

I made a half-batch last night, and they’re great! Admittedly, once in awhile, I’ll get a mild bean flavor, but I think that’s because my food processor couldn’t quite get its maw fully around the mixture to fully decimate all the beans, and because I have a palate that hones in on things sometimes. Overall, I really like these, and they’re definitely worth making again!


Okay, have to agree with Wayne! These are really amazing, and I’m pretty discerning about what I call amazing. I made them last night and I’m in love. I used instant coffee, three teaspoons. The coffee adds a rich flavor element that enhances the chocolate.A lovely gluten free goodie for those of us who are feeling a bit deprived. I even took some into my dentist’s office to share with them, that’s how confident I was they would love them, too. Vici, just TRY baking them, don’t be scared….


I’ve been looking at expanding into bean desserts, and wanted to try something other than the usual — bean ice cream. Incorporating them into dough is something I’ve been toying with. Looking forward to trying this.

Becky And The Beanstock

Well if that’s not a recipe just put there for me…!
I’ve been looking at expanding into bean desserts, and wanted to try something other than the usual — bean ice cream. Incorporating them into dough is something I’ve been toying with. Looking forward to trying this.

Becky And The Beanstock

i had to make these the very day i saw them on the website. they really are out of this world. a little fussier than i normally like my recipes….but well freakin’ worth it!
my new go to fudgy brownie recipe. also, they freeze beautifully.


I made these yesterday! Wow! I substituted 1/8 cup instant expresso powder for the reg. powdered coffee … great choice and had no regular black beans so used black soy beans … no problem. These are very rich and aren’t exactly diet food but would be great for a dinner party dessert, with a scoop of vanilla icecream on top and some fresh raspberries. There are just two of us so I’ve frozen most of them for the next big dinner.


Nutrition Facts:
Calories: 119
Calories from fat: 66
Fat: 8g
Saturated Fat: 4g
Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g
Monounsaturated Fat: 2g
Cholesterol: 30mg
Sodium: 38mg
Potassium: 81mg
Carbohydrate: 12g
Dietary Fiber: 1g
Protein: 2g
This information is from Fitday’s ( Desktop application, using honey instead of the light agave nectar.
These should go over well, as my girlfriend LOVES chocolate, and her Mom (who also loves my cooking) is diabetic.


Thanks for posting this recipe! I think using legumes in desserts and other sweet baking is genius. Indian cuisine is full of wonderful sweets that use lentils and lentil flours in all sorts of interesting ways. Adding fiber to one’s diet, even in sweet, chocolately form, can only be a good thing. And, thanks for the folks who posted chickpea cake recipes, those sound great too!


I’m sure my family will be surprised at what’s in these brownies. They look really good. I’ve been looking a few books that sneak vegetables into recipes. Thanks


My niece, who for the past 8 months has been following a vegan diet, has introduced me to all sorts of new foods including agave nectar, goji berries, and almond butter. (She is going to love this Brownie recipe!) It’s been fun discovering new foods and having a personal interpreter walking down the aisle of Whole Foods. The only problem is that these ingredients tend to be outrageously expensive!


Thanks for sharing this recipe – I’m intrigued and think I’ll try it. Perfect timing because I was at Trader Joe’s today and bought a new-to-me product, Organic Blue Agave Sweetener (agave nectar is listed as the ingredient).


While everyone on here seems excited and willing to try something new, I’ll back up Gwen and Phillipa and their chickpea chocolate cake recipes. A friend made chocolate cake for a birthday party and we were raving about how great it was, NOT KNOWING there was no flour. Try ’em out, I’m sure they are delicious.


I tried this recipe and the texture was like beans, but the taste was good and chocolatey. I think I would bake them a little longer next time because they were a bit too gooey for my friends. The guy didn’ tliek htem the girl did. I think that you have to like healthy food to really appreciate this recipe. It has a “healthy” taste to it, where you know the usual ingredients were not used.


I am so excited to make these. My husband is a pre-diabetic and this sounds like something I could make that would be both delicious and lower on the glycemic index. Kudos to Ania for her creativity and to you for sharing it with us!

Deborah Dowd

Black bean brownies!! man, that’s so hard to imagine, and I giess that’s what makes it so inviting to try heidi! bookmarked this, thanks for sharing!!:)


I had to try these right away. I served them to my hubby and two sons and they devoured them. My 5-year old (who does not eat beans or anything that has touched a bean) declared “these are the best brownies you have ever made, Mommy. We should make these again.”
I thought they tasted a little beany, but still yummy. I used honey instead of agave nectar and omitted the coffee. They would probably be even better with the coffee.


Tracking down Agave Nectar isn’t hard, you should be able to find it at most Whole Foods, however, if you cannot, go ahead and order it online from just search “agave nectar” and four kinds show up. It’s great stuff, I use it in teas, bar cookies and trail mix recipes. It’s awesome!


I love how everytime I read your blog I get an idea to cook something I would previously never have dreamed of! thank you.


I wonder whether those of us who are really not coffee lovers could substitute good cocoa powder for the coffee?


Wow, that’s an original combination! I bet it tastes great!


Jessica, you may like to try this; not strictly a bread as it does not contain yeast but something you could make a sandwich from.I have made it with both potato flour and cornmeal. you could also try rice flour but I haven’t tried it.
2 cups potato flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 can beer [about 330mls]
2 tbsp sugar or honey
Mix together and put in greased, paperlined loaf tin.
Bake 30 mins @ 170 degree Celsius
Take out and pour over 4 tbsp melted butter
Bake 30 mins more


I have a recipe for black bean cake (we call them Toddler Truffles) in my book. I love using beans in cakes. My recipe is similar but I will make these too!


Awesome! I am always looking for “healthier” and new brownie recipes!


i change mi mind. okay. at first(yesterday) they were beany and chocolate fudge heaven. if ur thinking about the ‘bean should replace butter thing,”, then take out some of the butter. as long as u dont make it like fat free you should b okay..and wahts the point of having dessert if ur gonna worry about the calories..skip it. for those tht like a more crumbier brownie(not to b confused with crummy haha) add some flour..actually that might not work, but hey, its got chocolate and coofffe in it so itll still taste good no mater if u have 2 eat it with a spoon. and for those that dont like coffe, id recomend skipping this recipe..i tried the batter b4 the coffee was added (and the beans were) and i think tht the coffee covers it up..but then again i may be wrong =)


Heidi – If you could only own one cook book about baking with agave nectar, would this be the one?


FYI, Trader Joe’s is now carrying Agave Nectar.


I just don’t understand why bother with the black beans if you’re already using a cup of butter and four ounces of chocolate in the recipe — surely they keep it fudgy enough? To me the whole point of using black beans in something like brownies is to keep them moist while *reducing* the amount of butter….


Long-time lurker, first-time poster. I’m a huge fan of the site and I cook at least one thing from 101 Cookbooks per week. I was moved to finally post something today because I am sitting here chewing on a black bean brownie. To all the naysayers out there, I have to say that these are indeed amazing. As someone said earlier, they’re much more on the fudgey side, but that’s to be expected with no flour. And there’s really not a hint of beaniness to be found. I used instant espresso powder and they have a lovely, but subtle espresso undertone. The coffee is really just there to bring out the chocolatiness (I’m making up words all over the place here) of the chocolate. My only question: even at room temp, they’re pretty crumbly – better eaten with a fork than with your fingers. Any suggestions on getting these to firm up a bit?
Thanks for the great site, Heidi! It’s a source of endless inspiration!


What an incredible and unique list of ingredients. I love the sound/look/etc of this and will certainly be making them this weekend (even though I detest baking, for the most part). These have to be fabulous. Thank you!


Wow, what a clever recipe! Love that it doesn’t call for any flour. I think I’m gonna make these for dinner tonight.


i’ve been making a version of these with maple syrup instead of the agave (we ARE in VT) and it is fantastic! i would definitely be interested in other recipes with pulses!


Any suggestions for something in place of the eggs as a binder? I’d love to try this recipe; sounds like it might really pack a hefty protein punch. Only problem is, my family abides by a strict “no eggs” vegetarian diet.


Beans are often used in Asian cuisines as a sweet, so it’s not surprising that these are such a taste treat.
Thank you for sharing this recipe, and for your additional comments!


I am going to have to try these! I have never even heard of agave nectar…just proves to me how much I still have to learn about keeping my family as healthy as I can!!!


Hi. Just made these brownies as a snack for a trip. I’m not a fan of nuts in my food, so I substitued a little brown rice flour. I made them in my mini muffin pan and the great!
Thanks for the cool recipe.


Black beans?? That sounds rather original and looks delicious. I have to try it soon enough!


If you are ever curious about a recipe’s nutritional totals, a wonderful website to use is you can add each ingredient for the recipe, then the servings, and it will total everything up for you! You can decide whether divide into 6 servings or eight!


I’m always drawn into these weird ingredient recipes and haven’t yet met a brownie I didn’t like, so I’ll have to try these.
You know what would be a neat addition? Putting chopped mild chilis into the recipe. I tried a chili brownie recipe from Jeff Smith ages ago, and it was amazingly yummy. Chili and black bean brownies would be an ideal treat for May 5 (or anytime).


I had found a recipe for black bean brownies a couple of years ago, and never made them because they used maple syrup, and well maple doesn’t sound good in a brownie.
I’ll have to try these. Do they freeze well? .


I shall try this one. I had heard about a carrot cake with navy beans, so this doesn’t come too much as a shock, but boy I would love to taste the flavor.

Gretchen Noelle

Oh wow these sound amazing and so unique. I can’t wait to give them a try. Never heard of anything like it before, but it makes sense with their starchy texture holding the ingredients together.
Thanks for the recipe


Oh man, I’ve just been talking about these to everyone. I was searching for them at the end of 2007 and only found the recipe where you mix a box of ready-to-bake brownies and a can of black beans, but since the beginning of 2008 (New Year’s resolutions?) I’ve been seeing an explosion on the internet of homemade black bean brownie recipes. I really need to try these soon they sound incredible. I would definitely add a peanut butter swirl to these!
This recipe is actually more involved then most that I’ve found. Most are even a lot healthier and only use a few tablespoons of butter/oil.
The Peanut Butter Boy


I’m going to try these, because I’m willing to try any recipe with “brownie” in the title, and there’s no conceivable way they could be nastier than Jessica Seinfeld’s spinach brownie recipe.


Well I made them and I LOVE them. They’re a little on the sweet side and I think I will use brown rice syrup next time and add some chocolate chips. Some one should write a cookbook about baking with beans as a base. What a great idea!


Jessica–Look up Bette Hagman’s ‘THE GLUTEN-FREE GOURMET BAKES BREAD” and her other GLUTEN-FREE GOURMET bread books. She gives so much more information than just recipes and also includes recipes to make your own mixes,which ultimately saves time and money. She also has recipes using bean flours as part of the recipes. I like these bean flour recipes but my daughter does not, so it is a matter of individual taste. We are both allergic to wheat and I do believe that there will be many more allergies due to all of the genetically altered grains that we are being fed.Did you know that almost 100% of our commercial grains have been altered to contain insecticides to kill off the bugs that want to eat them, with one bite? And, grains have been developed so they will survive when the fields are sprayed with ROUNDUP to kill off the weeds. No wonder there are so many health problems even tho’ we are trying to eat healthy ,including whole grains in our diets.


Heidi –
I read this and immediatly hit the kitchen. I’m also a fan of Asian bean-based desserts – and I had averything except the agave nectar in the kitchen. Since I didn’t have the agave, I had to make up something else for syrup. I didn’t want to overwhelm the recipe with maple, so that that was out, and I didin’t want to waste expensive honey if this didn’t turn out, so I was stuck with only a couple of other options… and sugar it was. However – I’m on a carb-restricted diet (per doc’s orders, and thus the joy at seeing this recipe) so I made a simple syrup from plain sugar and that horrible, unnatural “splendid” sweetner – and hey! It worked. So, if you aren’t a total purist – that’s another option for sweetning these.
BTW – the brownies are fantastic!!!


I can’t wait to try this recipe! Where I live in Southeastern Mass., we have many Portuguese bakeries that have some of the most delicious pastries made from beans (usually white navy beans, though).
This’ll be a real twist to what I’m accustomed to. They definitely don’t have chocolate bean brownies.


i’m not going to say these don’t scare me a little, but they do look amazingly fudgy and gooey and wonderful. and i love the hint of coffee in the batter.
michelle @ TNSv

michelle @ TNS

Can not wait to try these!! I am abstaining from sugar, yeast and gluten to see if I can rid myself of what sounds like a systemic yeast infection ? and wonder if agave is “good”. I’m all Stevia lately. I’m going to try the Brownies and see. Also:
Is there out there a descent yeast free gluten free bread (as in “I just want to have a sandwich!” bread) recipe??
I now know it can be done, because I
discovered Breads By Anna. But I have
searched and searched for a recipe -web and beyond- to no avail. I tried to post to Shauna on GF Girl, but the post wouldn’t ‘take’. My fault I’m sure. I’m tied to my PDA presently. Love the site Heidi!!


Using beans in brownies sounds really interesting.


Asian recipes often use beans in desserts, so I have no doubt these are awesome.
Thanks for doing all that math Lurker Laura! (saved me the trouble because I totally would have done that too!)

Traci @ Soup of The Day

don’t take a sleeping pill and a laxative on the same night !!!!


Hi Heidi,
What an interesting recipe. I have become quite enamored with agave nectar since I first tried it last year. Sounds like an interesting cookbook, thanks for the tip.


i got these cooling..i made a half batch-which i calculated would look fit into a 9×9 pan…but i cant find mine..soo i put it n a heart pan,(great 4 st. patricks day, huh?) and 4 like 25 minutes..wasnt done, not even close actually, soo i put it in for like probably 10 or so more. i just took them out, thinking they looked doneish..without beeing like dry, and i gave it a taste(i no it should cooll, but….)and it tasted faintly of beans…it may just be that thats wht im expecting, and it may help once they cool, but…im a little worried..haha these may b served with ALOT of chocolate ice cream haha


Tomorrow is my day off and now I know that I’ll be going to Whole Foods to find agave nectar so that I can try these, they look and sound absolutely wonderful! Thank you, Heidi!


About the “light” agave nectar, can you dilute dark agave nectar? I went to the store thinking about this recipe and didn’t remember the exact name.
Oh! And this is one reader who would love nutritional info included! (:


What a fantastic recipe! I wonder if I can substitute butter with olive oil… I’ll try 🙂
Sara: you can definitely find agave nectar, Allos brand, at ‘Natura Sì’ foodstres here in Italy (there’s one in almost every city in Italy)… I usually buy agave nectar there 😉


To those who cannot/do not like coffee, or are looking for a substitute, there are a couple of brands that come to mind: Pero or Postum, here in the States. Either are usually available at large grocery stores, and certainly some health food stores. They are non-caffeinated, grain-based “instant” type hot beverages, and should substitute nicely. They don’t taste so much like coffee, but often benefit from chicory as an ingredient.
I’ve used instant coffee/espresso in cake recipes dry (unconstituted), and yes, the liquid binds them with the other ingredients. Wholeheartedly agree that the flavor of coffee punches up chocolate in any recipe, making it taste much richer for it.


What to sub for the nuts? We’ve got nut allergies and usually I’d leave them out but this being a flourless recipe and the nuts are ground so serve some structure, I’m stumped.


Gwen posted a garbanzo bean brownie recipe above that runs along similar lines to this chocolate cake that I have been making for a number of years. We periodically serve it at my kids’ school nutrition program, and it’s very popular:
Flourless Chocolate Cake
1 can chickpeas (19 oz), drained
1/3 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs
1 cup sugar
2/3 cup cocoa
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
In food processor or blender, blend chickpeas and oil. Add eggs, one at a time. Mix in sugar, cocoa, baking powder and baking soda.
Microwave: Bake in a microwave-safe ring pan for 11 minutes in the
microwave at 70% and then another 1-2 minutes at full power or until the cake comes away slightly from the sides.
Conventional oven: Bake in a 9″ round cake pan in 350 degree oven about 50 minutes.


Thanks for sharing this recipe with us! I confess, I would not have tried beans in a sweet recipe without the recommendation of a third party. I’m also not the type who picks up a cookbook focused on alternative sweeteners. But, I’ll bake these soon with an open mind.
Someone mentioned the amount of butter: I think that it’s quite a reasonable amount. The recipes I’ve tried in the past have used at least one stick of butter for a 9X9 pan of brownies.


Nutritionally, it looks like these are indeed better than the average brownie recipe. Don’t trust me on that, though..
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate (4 x 140 calories = 560)
1 cup unsalted butter (100 * 16 tbs = 1600 calories)
2 cups soft-cooked black beans (2 * 227 = 454 calories)
1 cup walnuts, chopped (785 calories)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
¼ cup (granulated) natural coffee substitute (12 tsp * 2 calories = 24 calories)
¼ teaspoon sea salt
4 large eggs (70 * 4 = 280 calories)
1½ cups light agave nectar (72 teaspoons * 16 cals = 1152 calories)
That is a total of 4855 calories, over 45 servings, for 108 calories per serving. A serving is a 4.4 sq inch brownie. (Ignoring depth :p)
A typical brownie recipe (2 cups sugar, 1 cup butter, 1.5 cups flour) is 230 calories for a 5.85 sq inch serving. Scaled down to 4.4, it’d be about 173 calories. If I just look up brownie on a calorie site, it says 240 for ~4 sq inch.
I wouldn’t take that as gospel for various reasons, but I think it is safe to say that you can feel a bit better about a black bean brownie, calorically.

Lurker Laura

Looks delicious!!! I tried making a red bean based version before… red beans are used much more in Asian desserts..
Apparently pureed beans can be used to substitute up to half of the butter in thick fudgy cakes without any discernible difference in taste!
Will try your featured black beans version soon!! Thanks for sharing!


anniem – don’t know where you live but I also buy dried black beans at my local vietnamese shop here in Sydney (Marrickville) – definitely not to be confused with the fermented soybeans used in black bean sauce. Many health food stores stock them too – turtle beans. Ever since my sister came back from South America black beans and rice has been a staple meal at our house – tasty!


I’ve had chickpea brownies before, and they were really good – dense and rich. I can’t wait to try black bean brownies!


These seem awesome! And all that protein, yes! Though I was a little disappointed that they contain so much butter. I usually substitute all of the butter in my brownies with applesauce without much trouble. Think that would work here?


when i lived in australia, black beans were hard to find but i found them in a few health food stores under the name (black) turtle beans.


Hi Heidi!
I love love love your work. It is such a pleasure to see when you post something new!
I’m always looking for ways to cut out fat (ala Dean Ornish)–do you have any thoughts on using two whole eggs and three egg whites instead of four whole eggs?
Thanks and keep up the delicious work!


These look great and I am tempted to try again – I tried beanie brownies this year and was quite disappointed but they were also vegan (check out Have Cake Will Travel, and Diet, Dessert and Dogs for their bean brownie recipes). I think I will need to try the less healthy egg and chocolate recipe as I would love to conquer this for my gluten free niece and sister.
I also thought I would let you know that for people like me who don’t like coffee but want the richness in chocolate desserts, I have found the Australian ‘spice’ wattleseed is a great alternative to coffee


I have got to try these! I’ve been on the search for the perfect brownie, I wont have to feel as guily about eating these.
My mom used to make pinto bean fudge, she got the recipe from a pinto bean cook book she had when I was young. I really wish I could find that book! I have found a recipe for pinto bean cake. It’s similar to spice cake and very moist.

Sally McEntire

I can’t believe I’m thinking of making brownies with black beans in them……weird.


My mum’s been mashing beans into everything possible for as long as I can remember…but I don’t think she’s done a black bean brownie! The “hummus cake” was a particular winner, though. I’m definitely going to have to give this a shot!


Sophie said…”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.”
I have heard the same thing and am being cautious; although I adore the Agave Nectar Cupcakes (both vanilla and chocolate) from “Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World”….v


Looks very interesting. I will definitely try them but please what are “black beans”?. We don’t have them by that name downunder. Is there another name? Also what is “natural coffee substitute”
Don’t be fooled by agave nectar or honey being “healthier” than sugar. Sugar is sugar whatever form it is in and too much is not good


Heidi, you have piqued my interest, and I will definitely try this as I have been on a major agave + whole grains kick! Yay!


Brownies con caraotas negras


You can calculate nutritional info on
I’ve make a recipe like these before– very good!


Hi – I’d like to chime in as I’ve actually eaten the brownies seen in the photograph.
They are very good. Go make them! I tried them without being told ahead that they had beans in them and did not notice, and probably would never have guessed.
The only thing that might be an issue for some is they are on the fudgy creamy side of the brownie spectrum and don’t have the cake/crumble that some people love about brownies.


i am completely in love with black beans! so i am definitely going to have to try making these sometime very soon! i can’t wait! thanks for the awesome recipe!


I have made the weight watchers black bean brownies several times and they are simple (box of mix + can of pureed beans) and always delicious, but I much prefer the idea of a scratch recipe. I’ve also started using agave lately and thrilled to start learning how to use it in baking.
On nutritional information, I’m another who likes to have that handy, and would really appreciate its inclusion. Thanks Heidi!


I’ve been curious about agave nectar for a while, but have yet to take the plunge and try baking with it. I think this recipe may have just persuaded me to give it a try. The brownies look so amazingly dense and chocolatey!


Ok, wow. I thought you all might be as intrigued by these as I was – but I had no idea they’d spark such a flood of comments in such a short period of time! I’ve updated the recipe with a few clarifications based on your initial questions. I used instant coffee granules (I think they actually dissolve while baking)…I see no reason why you couldn’t use espresso powder (as much/little to your liking) – or for those who don’t like or can’t have coffee – leave it out altogether.
I appreciate the requests re: nutritional information for each recipe. I need to think about it more. I tend to think about my meals in broader stokes (and in context based on what I’m eating the rest of the day) – enough whole grains? enough protein? enough water? a nice range of color and types of fruits and vegetables? portion size reasonable? But, I certainly wasn’t always like this. Maybe I’ll talk more about this down the line if people are interested. But I do appreciate that others need/want to monitor different types of specific nutritional info. At this point, I think I want to leave it up to individuals to run recipes through whatever program they want to slice and dice the recipes (there are many out there). I almost think that if I did nutritional information, I might do it in a different way.
Also, I wouldn’t leave the eggs out in this recipe, they act as a critical binder. Apple sauce just isn’t going to cut it as a substitute in this case.


Thicken them up with some rice flour or barley flour, and you’ve got an energy bar!
Eating grains with legumes forms a complete protein…the reason in almost every culture on earth, beans and rice or corn is a staple…


Hmmmm. I guess I have to try it on my own to be able to say more. 🙂 But the recipe is interesting.

Joanna in the kitchen

I have been making a brownie similar to this for years. passed on by a friend who went on a trip in St Lucia to a resort called Le Sport on the Body Holiday.ricki- i had no idea weight watchers used a recip elike ths as well. I bet they are all as good. Goimg to try Heidis version with agave instead of sugar.
High Protein Gluten Free, Dairy Free
Chocolate Fudge Brownies
1 1/2 c. chocolate or carob semisweet chips
2 c. garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
4 eggs
1 c. sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder
Melt chips. In blender or food processor, combine beans and eggs. Add sugar, baking powder, and chocolate, process until smooth. Pour batter into a 9 in or 8X8 non stick pan.
Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.
Serve with fresh homemade whipped cream on top.
Other beans are just as yummy.
Using legumes instead of flour adds fiber and protein.
To make brownies more like the ones you had as a kid add a stick of butter, and a teaspoon of vanilla, and ½ cup more of sugar or maple syrup.
If using coco powder instead of chocolate use a bit of butter or oil to moisten batter. Coconut oil is a great choice.
Raspberries, walnuts or spirulina are also a welcome addition to this recipe.


Elaine Tribole first did black bean brownies in her “Stealth Health” cookbook back in 1999. They were delicious. I can’t wait to try this version.


I have been checking this site for a few months now… and only NOW have I felt inclined to respond :)!!! This is so very intriguing…
As some people have mentioned, using bean paste in asian desserts is not uncommon. And now that you’ve posted this… I imagine the texture of a ‘pastey’ fudgy brownie might be mimiced by that of the bean paste.
Looking forward to making these for my very close (gluten-allergic) friend. 🙂
Thanks for this post!! 🙂


for non-coffee people, you should really try it with the coffee. i hate coffee myself, but coffee really enhances the flavor of the chocolate.


Is there anything you can substitute for the coffee? We’re not big coffee-fans, and I was hoping to make these brownies to be just like traditional, chocolatey brownies. Any suggestions? What would happen if I just left out the coffee?


Can you just use canned black beans for this?


What exactly is a ‘natural coffee substitute’? Could I just use 1/4 cup of brewed coffee?


wow – i love this idea
this is bookmarked and if i had some instant coffee in the house i’d get baking right now
i think a lot of people are going to try these, heidi… it’s a compelling recipe!
and i am a total agave fan. lower glycemic index…

Claudia (cook eat FRET)

Heidi –
This recipe looks absolutely brilliant, thank you! I can’t wait to run home and try these out. What a fabulous and delicious way to use up those leftover black beans!
Also, huge kudos on the Anzac cookie recipe – you’ve done Australia proud (and maybe even one better, if i may!)


I must say my first thought was *gross* – but I am interested in trying these!
Heidi – like a few others I am wondering if you can include nutritional information for your recipes. I’ve become somewhat of a nutritional info junkie.
Thanks for the always interesting reading and recipes and photos that tempt!


I’m excited to try these brownies! I’d be curious if anyone knew the nutritional facts on them or had any more info about the health benefits versus regular brownies. (I’m beginning to try and change my diet to focus better on my health and I’m always searching for info!) -Robin

robin (caviar and codfish)

Well, I just put this cookbook on my amazon wishlist. These brownies looks so decadent I can’t believe they are made with legumes! I am going to take you word for it that they don’t taste beany and give it a try.
BTW, I tried your latest split pea recipe with the yogurt. AMAZING. Easy and both husband and I agreed – dinner party worthy. Thanks.


This sounds like a wonderful version of bean brownies. I’ve tried some vegan versions that have circulated on the web, and last month posted my own white-bean based GF brownie. It’s at if anyone is interested. The ones I’ve tried have all been quite good.
Agave nectar is my favorite sweetener, and I use it for most of my baking these days (though not in this recipe, oddly!). So much better than honey!


I tried a black bean brownie recipe in the past. It was so gross, I dumped the whole pan in the garbage. So I am slightly put-off by the idea of trying another one. However, the fact that this one has baker’s chocolate instead of cocoa powder does pique my interest…


Black beans? Sounds strange, but looks fantastic! You’ve done it again!


I think beans are a very underused baking ingredient. My first adventure in bean cooking was trying a recipe for breakfast bean cookies that I found in my local foodie mag. The woman who developed it had devised it when her friend’s 12-year-old daughter was receiving chemotherapy, and suffering from loss of appetite. She could be persuaded to eat a cookie, so this woman wanted to develop a cookie that packed as much nutritional punch as possible. Beans can replace a lot of the fat in a recipe, and they are packed with fibre, protein and other goodies. And eating cookies for breakfast is pretty nice!


Peg–Yes, just about every brownie recipe I’ve ever tried has used at least a cup of butter for a full pan, so I’d call it typical. It seems to add to a brownie’s denseness and richness.
I’m sure I have the ingredients at home to make a half batch–I’m anxious to try this out and will probably do it as soon as I’ve gotten the rest of my St. Patty’s Day dinner well on its way!


I have no doubt these brownies are delicious and I can’t wait to try them. For years I’ve been making a fantastic black bean chocolate cake, a recipe I discovered in a cookbook entitled Blue Corn and Chocolate, that is hands down one of the best chocolate cake recipes I’ve encountered.


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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