A few months ago, our family went on a (SERIOUS) brownie kick. I mean the kind where there is a steady supply of brownie squares on the kitchen counter or a fresh batch baking weekly in the oven. If you know me, this is surprising because I do not consider myself much of a brownie fan. While I do love chocolate, I’ve probably only eaten brownies a handful of times over the last few years and this would be that made by others. Catch me at a restaurant and 9 times out of 10 I would choose a different dessert over the brownie on the menu. So why the change?
Well, ever since @ami_and_nutrition mentioned black bean brownies on Instagram, I couldn’t stop thinking about them. So I made them one Saturday and the rest was history. Not that the first batch tasted perfect, but I was immediately hooked on the idea that something as nutritious as black beans could be turned into a chocolatey treat. Plus the rest of the family loved them. So over the next few batches, I kept tweaking and making improvements to first recipe until these winning Absolutely The Best Fudgy Vegan Black Bean Brownies were born. Jump to Recipe
But in some sense this whole development is not surprising. If you’ve been around Dietitian Mom for a while, you might have noticed that many of my recipes come from personal cravings or that from family members (read post on Marvelously Creamy Vegan Mushroom Soup), and the ensuing insatiable desire to create a healthy, nutritious yet addictively tasty version to satisfy that craving. So I can say with confidence that these chocolatey fudgy vegan black bean brownies will put you or your loved ones in ‘Brownie Heaven’. In fact, this was one recipe that I had to not only consciously stop myself from taste-testing the batter too many times, but also remind myself to share with others in my family!
I love the fact that these Absolutely The Best Fudgy Vegan Black Bean Brownies pack in 5 grams of protein, 5 grams of fiber and provides at least 10 percent Daily Value of iron per delectable brownie square. Not only that, the brownie squares can be made in advance and are freezable. They are perfect to make for an after-dinner treat, bring to pot lucks, school parties, pack into lunch boxes, bring to work, enjoy as a snack or even bake for your loved one on Valentine’s Day. These are dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, gluten-free (using certified gluten-free oats) and soy-free brownies have just the right sweetness without being overly sweet and rich. Yet, they have the same fudgy chocolatey factor that regular brownies do, so unless you tell people, no one would ever guess the secret nutrient dense ingredient inside. I know because when these brownies were brought to a church potluck, no one guessed they contained black beans, but everyone enjoyed them. Two ladies that day even asked me for the recipe! The best part is that this whole recipe only contains 2 tablespoons of a sweetener like maple syrup, and a ¼ cup of chocolate chips, due to the use of dates in the recipe. But if you don’t want to use dates or don’t have dates on hand, just substitute the dates in the recipe for raisins (see Recipe Notes).
Don’t believe how good these brownies are? Try this recipe yourself to see. You may end up making it again but doubling the recipe!
- 2 cups cooked or canned black beans (equivalent to one 19 ounce can black beans or 326 grams drained weight) [I used unsalted canned black beans]
- 1/2 cup dates (approximately 17 pieces) [72 grams]
- ½ cup unsweetened applesauce [120 grams]
- 2 ½ tablespoons coconut oil
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup (or honey or agave nectar)
- 1 cup quick cooking oats [96 grams] (or rolled or old fashioned oats)
- 3 tablespoons cocoa powder
- 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ cup dairy-free chocolate chips (add more if desired) [weight: 50 grams]
- 2 tablespoons unsweetened dry shredded coconut flakes
- additional dairy-free chocolate chips
- fresh apple slices
- walnuts (or almond slices, cashew and other nut pieces)
Preheat oven to 400 F or 200 C.
Soak the dates in about 1 cup of ‘just boiled’ hot water for 10 minutes or until the dates soften (make sure the water covers the tops of the dates). Then remove and chop the dates roughly before transferring them to the food processor (This helps to make the blending process faster for a smoother texture. However if the dates are already quite soft, you can skip the chopping step). Alternatively, use raisins in this recipe (see Recipe Notes).
If using canned beans, rinse and drain them well, then put them into a food processor (this works better than a blender). Otherwise, measure out 2 cups of cooked beans to use in this recipe.
Blend together the beans, applesauce, oil, maple syrup and dates (or raisins) until a very smooth texture is formed.
Add the oats, cocoa powder, vanilla extract, baking powder and salt into the food processor bowl and blend until all is very smooth and well combined. Stop occasionally to scrape the contents from the sides of the bowl and to mix the blended contents together using a spatula. Taste and adjust for sweetness as desired. (Note: if you are using regular canned black beans in this recipe, you may be able to use less salt in this recipe as the canned black beans usually already contain some salt due to the processing method. In this case, try adding in just ¼ teaspoon of salt first, then taste the mixture before you add the chocolate chips to decide if you would like to add additional salt.)
Add the chocolate chips into the mixture and stir together using the spatula.
Transfer this final thick mixture into an 8 x 8 inch glass bakeware dish, and use the rubber spatula to smooth the surface to create a layer of even thickness.
Cover the bakeware dish tightly with aluminum foil, before baking the dish in the oven on the middle rack for 15 minutes (if you are using sliced apples, layer them now onto the brownie surface, before covering the dish tightly with aluminum foil.
In the last 15 minutes, remove the aluminum foil. If using shredded coconut, sprinkle them on now (optional), then let the dish bake uncovered for the remaining bake time. The brownie smells should start wafting through the kitchen soon!
Remove the dish from the oven, perform the knife test (run the tip of a knife into the brownie all the way to the bottom and then pull it out to see if the brownie mix is baked through. If so, the blade should be mostly clear with minimal batter on it.
Do not attempt to cut the brownies yet. Once removed from the oven, let the brownie in the dish cool down uncovered on the countertop for 5 minutes. Then transfer the dish to the refrigerator to let cool further for at least 10 minutes before attempting to cut them. This will speed up the process of the brownies firming up as they cool. (Don’t worry, the brownies will still be warm when removed from the refrigerator even after the cooling time.)
Cut into brownie squares, then serve!
Notes: These brownies will harden as they cool. By covering the dish with aluminum foil during the first part of the baking, you will prevent large cracks from forming on the brownie surface.
Instead of using dates, you can substitute the half cup of dates with ¾ cup [dry weight] of raisins. Soak the raisins first in hot water for 5 minutes, then drain the liquid and place the soaked plump raisins in the food processor bowl to blend with the black beans.
For a gluten-free version, use certified gluten-free oats in this recipe.
The key to remember when making these is that the brownies will come out feeling slightly soft after baking. That’s completely normal as the brownies will harden in texture as they cool. You can also make these the night before and stick them in the fridge to harden more overnight, then bring them the next day ready-made for your function! If you would like to eat these brownies warm (though you had prepared them the night before), just remove them from the refrigerator and reheat in an oven set at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 5 minutes. In my experience, these brownies taste even better frozen first then thawed, because the texture gets firmed up somehow to be even more delicious!