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)

If you make this recipe, I'd love to see it - tag it #101cookbooks on Instagram!

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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?


anniem- 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.


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