We were having a health challenge at work and one of the tasks that we could do to get “bonus points” was to have a healthy potluck. I decided to make a dessert that was healthy without compromising taste. Enter – black bean brownies. I came across many recipes that used black beans instead of flour, which increased the health element, but ignored the unhealthiest part of a brownie: the refined sugar. Luckily, I found and adapted a black bean brownie recipe that used dates instead of sugar. So, the only added sugar in this recipe is the caramel topping, which you can certainly leave out.
Some secret ingredients:
a. Coffee – a little coffee enhance the flavor of chocolate. Since I wasn’t using Medjool dates which are meatier and softer, I decided to soak regular dates in coffee to soften them. I also added instant coffee to the batter.
b. Dutch process cocoa powder –for an intensely dark rich brownie (see picture below).
|Left: Dutch processed; Right: Regular cocoa|
Check out the verdict at the end of the post!
Black Bean & Date Brownies with Caramel
Adapted from here.
1 cup dates
2 cups cooked black beans
3 Tablespoon oil or melted butter (coconut oil would add a nice flavor element!)
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon instant coffee
2 Tablespoon vanilla syrup or 1 Tablespoon extract
¼ cup + 3 Tablespoons Dutch processed cocoa powder
Caramel Ganache Topping
2 Tablespoon cream
1. Cover dates with hot coffee and soak for ½ hour until soft. Drain and discard coffee.
2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking dish with parchment so that the paper hangs over the ends for easier lift (I used an 8x8 inch dish).
3. In a food processor or blender, blend dates, black beans and oil until smooth.
4. Add baking soda, salt, instant coffee, vanilla, and 1/4 cup cocoa powder and blend until smooth.
5. Taste the mixture, and add more cocoa 1 Tablespoon at a time to your flavor preference. The mixture should not taste like beans or dates.
6. Transfer mixture into a bowl, add eggs, and blend with a hand mixer.
7. Pour mixture into the baking pan.
8. To make the caramel ganache topping, put the caramels and cream in a double boiler and stir over medium heat until melted and combined.
9. Pour over brownie batter and swirl with a knife.
10. Bake for 30 minutes. Cool before cutting.
|Dates soaking in coffee.|
|Caramel with cream.|
Verdict: These were a big hit at work! I was surprised by how tasty and moist they were – an awesome alternative to those traditional brownies that make my throat hurt from the excessive sugar. The caramel topping gave them an additional flavor element that took them to a whole other level for me. I made them a few days later with azuki (red) beans and coconut oil, which also turned out really well.