Black Bean Brownies

     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.

A cup of beans is about 2/3 of a normal sized, 15 oz can. Drain and rinse!
New to vegan? You may be new to flax eggs…just a tablespoon of flaxseed meal and 2.5 tablespoons of water. Mix, and let sit.
So I don’t have a food processor, but that’s okay! Blend/purée the beans to the best of your ability. Mine came out like this and were totally cool.

The final batter looks somewhat like this. Not at all runny, but not wet cement, either. Chunky is also okay.
The recipe should get you through a whole tin of muffins, if you fill each spot about halfway.

Friendly reminder to reacquaint yourself with your handy-dandy scraper!

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.

They remind me of those brownie snacks you buy that come in the small packets for your lunchbox.
Enjoy! Shout-out to Iris and Cameron for the recipe.
Adapted from Minimalist Baker

Christmas Bread

Happy holidays! We’re reaching the end of the year already? I’ve finished school, which hopefully means I will be living in the kitchen, learning all sorts of exciting things, and documenting them. Stay tuned for new developments with this new time on my hands. In the meantime, enjoy the first steps: my first EVER solo bread loaf! It came out pretty great! Just in time for New Years; dig out your scale and flour and try your hand at some yourself.
Randomly selected ingredients/add-ins from the local co-op:
Dried apricots, dried cranberries, golden raisins and walnuts!
This picture was an accident, but I thought it looked better than what I was going for.

Essentials: Water & yeast, flour, and Ratio by Michael Ruhlman:
how to make anything from bread to sausage to soup with a simple ratio for each,
just add nuts/pepper/cheese etc.

No dough hooks or paddles necessary! Just add the water, 
grab a wooden spoon and mix until you’ve got a dough.
Heyy check out my mom’s photography skills! Apparently you’re supposed to knead for 10 minutes; you can add your particulars halfway through this. I’m still working on the kneading thing…my
dough was kinda dense but that also may have been the pastry flour I was using…oops.

  Woot feast your eyes on the jam-packed super-bread. Only four ingredients,
apart from the fruit and nuts. If you think you’ve added too much and bits
are falling out, fret not! It will all be okay.
Voilà! Despite the different lighting, it did not take too long to make this bread,
just some waiting. All worth it! Now we have a yummy bread chock-full of
nutritious things! It still looked kinda foldy before I threw it in the oven so it was dense but
IT’S COOL, still tasted great.

This is what the dining room table looked like by Christmas morning. Turkey? Nah,
cookies. And bread. Stay tuned for cookie recipes shortly! In the meantime, enjoy the leftovers of the holidays before your resolutions kick in.

Dried Fruit and Nut Bread
Adapted from Ratio by Michael Ruhlman
20 oz bread flour
12 oz warm water
1 packet or teaspoon active yeast
2 teaspoons salt
2 cups of your choice of dried fruit and nuts
1 cup water and cast-iron skillet for steam

Put your mixing bowl on the scale, zero it out, and measure out the flour. If you have a stand mixer, you add the rest of the ingredients, zeroing as necessary. With no mixer, get a second bowl and measure out the water using the same process, and add the yeast and salt. Add this to the flour and combine with a wooden spoon.

Once you get a homogenous mixture, take out the dough and knead it on a floured surface for 10 minutes, or until the dough is smooth and elastic. Halfway through, gradually fold in your fruit and nuts. After kneading, place the dough back in the bowl, greased and/or floured, and let sit until double in size (an hourish).

Take the dough out and knead again to get rid of excess gas, or punch it down, then let it sit again for 10-15 minutes. You can then shape the dough into a boule by rolling it on the counter until it is a round ball. Place it on a ceramic surface or pan and let sit one more time for an hour. You can also refrigerate the dough at this time for up to a day, allowing it to come to room temperature for 2 hours before baking. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees, and put a cast-iron skillet on a rack to heat up for steam during baking.

Take the boule and cute an x, pound sign or any other pattern you want at the top to allow the dough to expand in the oven. Pour the cup of water into the skillet to create steam in the oven. This process helps to create a thick, crisp bread crust. Do it: it’s important and impressive! Bake the dough at 450 degrees for 10 minutes, and then at 375 degrees for another 45 minutes or so. When the bread is done, it will sound hollow when you tap the bottom. Cut and enjoy naked or with anything on top!

Shout out to my mom for helping with the lighting 😀