If you know me, you know that I’ll eat close to anything that you put in front of me: meat, gluten, cream, sugar. This means that I steer clear of recipes that have anything to do with gluten-free, vegan, or dairy-free diets. But when my friend told me about a nice black bean brownie another friend made, I wanted to attempt the impossible: use a vegan or gluten-free recipe that does not fall apart, and tastes GOOD. Not okay, not acceptable, not sufficient-for-the-top-of-my-cereal, but genuinely enjoyable. Well, friends, I think I did it. I made (almost) vegan AND (actually) gluten-free brownies, that mostly stayed together, and that I was pretty impressed with. Do they taste like regular brownies? No. But they are still nice and fudgy and very filling. Even if you’re on a see-food diet, I dare you to take a crack at these healthy baked goods and restore your faith in the edible options within dietary restrictions.
Black Bean Brownies
Can be made vegan and are naturally gluten-free
Makes 12 brownies
1 cup black beans, drained and rinsed
2 tbsp flaxseed meal and 1/4 cup + 1 tbsp water, for two “flax eggs”
2 tbsp melted butter (or coconut oil for vegan variation)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup milk (or water for vegan variation)
Crushed walnuts for topping
-Oven temp will be 350 degrees F. Preheat accordingly.
Drain out the black beans from the can, and rinse. Measure out a cup, and place in a food processor. Before you process the beans, combine the flaxseed meal and water for the equivalent of two “flax eggs”. Set aside.
No food processor? No problem. Try a combination of blending, and manual power. Get creative with some microwaving if it helps. Once the flax mixture has been sitting for a few minutes, add it to the black beans with the butter or other oil, and vanilla extract.
Add the dry ingredients gradually, while alternating with the milk or water, so the batter ends up at a good consistency – not as thin as regular brownie batter, but not wet cement. If you have a food processor, you can do it all in there. If not, a wooden spoon does just fine.
Put the batter in a greased muffin tin, then sprinkle with walnuts. Place in the oven for around 25 minutes. The center will no longer be wet and runny. Let cool in the pan, then carefully remove the brownies with a fork and/or small spatula, and transfer to a wire rack or plate. Warning: this will likely prove difficult, so be careful and have patience. They might fall apart anyway.
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