First things first - please don't have a freak out at the prospect of combining beans and chocolate - you won't even know they're in there and they give the brownies a fudgy, moist base, as well as providing a whole host of nutritional benefits, such as plant-based protein, dietary fibre, iron, zinc, folate and antioxidants. I promise you there's enough cocoa and sweetener to mask the taste of the beans, and you can thank me for going through the process of working out just how much is enough so you don't have to. Besides, some vegan recipe bloggers are taking things one step further and using chickpea BRINE in meringue recipes (AKA 'aquafaba', AKA the gross viscous water that you're used to draining from the tin of chickpeas and discarding, AS YOU RIGHTFULLY SHOULD - OK OK, I will happily admit that this is still a concept that I haven't quite gotten my head around yet, and won't be using any time soon...
Anyway, I'm so excited to finally be able to share this recipe with you, as it's taken no less than TEN attempts to get it just right, and quite frankly, I'm so over it I'll probably never bake it ever again. (But ask me again next week, and I might have changed my mind).
The previous nine attempts have resulted in my housemate Anna and I sitting on the lino of our kitchen floor in our pyjamas (always waaaaay past our bedtime), with a glass of almond milk in one hand and a half-eaten brownie in the other, having the following conversation:
L - 'What do you think?'
A - It's good, but it's still a little too bean-y/date-y/dry/wet/sweet/bland/un-cooked/over-cooked/chocolate-y/not chocolate-y enough...'
So, after ten subtle alterations in date/flour/sweetener content, and as devastating as it is that my housemate is currently out of the country (and hence unable to confirm that this recipe is finally perfected), I present to you the recipe.
Double-Choc Black Bean Brownies
You will need:
- a square brownie pan, lined with baking paper. My measures 20cm/8in in diameter
- a food processor
- a large mixing bowl
- a wooden spoon
- a wire cooling rack
- a sieve
- 1 chia seed 'egg'. Combine 1 tbsp chia seeds with 3 tbsp of water, stir and set aside for 5 minutes until viscous
- 200g/7oz medjool dates, pitted
- 1/2 cup (125mL/4fl.oz) maple syrup
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2x 400g (14oz) tins black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1/2 cup cocoa powder plus a little extra for dusting. I used Dutch-processed, as it has a richer chocolate flavour than raw cacao powder
- 1/2 cup almond or hazelnut meal
- 1/2 cup flour of your choice. I used sorghum, but buckwheat or spelt also work well
- pinch of salt
- 1/2 cup (60g/2oz) walnut halves, roughly chopped (plus a few extra to decorate with)
- 60g/2oz good quality dark chocolate, roughly chopped
- Pre-heat the oven to 160 degrees Celsius (320 Fahrenheit) fan-forced, or 180 degrees conventional (355 Fahrenheit).
- In a large mixing bowl, place the cocoa powder, almond/hazelnut meal, flour, salt, walnuts and dark chocolate. Stir with a wooden spoon until combined.
- Place the medjool dates, black beans and chia egg into your food processor, and process until smooth and well combined. With the machine running, stream in the maple syrup and vanilla extract.
- Empty the wet mixture from the food processor into the mixing bowl of dry ingredients and stir with a wooden spoon until combined. Spoon the mixture into the baking pan and a press a few chopped walnuts into the surface.
- Place the brownie in the pre-heated oven and bake for 40 minutes. Lift the brownie out of the tin (holding onto the baking paper) and place on a wire cooling rack for 10 minutes or so until it's cooled a little. Using the sieve, dust a tablespoon or so of cocoa powder over the brownie. Cut using a large knife into 9 large squares and enjoy while still warm.