The first thing I ever baked by myself was a pan of chocolate brownies. I was nine. I dusted them with icing sugar and ate them with my friends. They were very complimentary and wowed by my baking attempts. We were at that age where it was normal to sit with three friends and each eat five or six brownies in a row, so we had time to really think about them. In the end we decided they were too flat, so I said next time I’d try another recipe until I got it right. And did I ever! At least twice a month since then I have made a pan of brownies, experimenting, tweaking, trying to find the best brownie recipe in the world . My quest to find the perfect brownie continued for many years.
I have learnt a very profound thing from my brownie journey, and I’m going to share it with you now: There is no single perfect recipe. Rather there are many, and it is based on individual preferences. I did ultimately write my own recipe that created what I deem brownie perfection, but it is not this one today. Those are the fudgiest, chewiest, richest, gooiest brownies ever. I honestly believe everything I know about baking came from the years of perfecting that recipe. It was there I learnt about flour and thickening gluten, about chocolate percentages, butter vs oil, brown vs white sugar, chips vs nuts vs raspberries and the list goes on.
The problem with those brownies though is that my mum can’t eat them (being gluten, dairy, and sugar free) and seeing as I was making these brownies for her, it wouldn’t be ideal to make something she couldn’t eat. My perfect recipe (I will put it up here one day, maybe for my 100th post) contains almost a pound of chocolate and sugar not to mention half a pound of butter. It is the polar opposite of what we have here today: Black bean, avocado and date brownies! Completely butter, sugar and flour free! And guess what, they taste amazing! Like a deep, dark chocolate fudge.
Black bean brownies are in no way a new concept, but I’d never tried them before this week. I first saw a recipe on the blog Ambitious Kitchen. I just couldn’t believe they wouldn’t taste like…a burrito! Especially with the avocado instead of butter? Is anybody else thinking guacamole? I decided to give them a go just as a starting point for something less, um…gross sounding? And when I ate one straight of the pan I thought, hmm. These don’t taste like great brownies, they taste like good brownies. But then I chilled them, and ate another one. It was a very big transformation! The beans really are tasteless. So is the avocado.
The texture is thick and fudgy, and because there is no flour they don’t dry out like a normal brownie can. These are healthy brownies, there’s no getting around it, but for people who can never touch real brownies they are really really good. You don’t need a huge blender either to make them. Mine is tiny so I just blend up one wet component with one dry and add it to mixing bowl, then another, etc until every thing is the same consistency, then stir it all together. So I blended the cocoa with the avocados and the almond meal with the eggs, for example. Also I tried these with kidney beans to see if this would work too, and it did, but the black beans seemed to create a slightly better texture.
Black Bean Avocado Brownies:Barely adapted from Ambitious Kitchen
1 tin (425 grams, 1 pound, 15 ounces) black beans, washed and cooked if raw
50 grams (half a cup) each cocoa powder and almond meal
1 tsp baking powder
120 grams (4 ounces) dark chocolate (sugar free optional), melted or cut into chunks (for non-melt)
3 tablespoons ripe, green avocado (about half 1 large)
2 tablespoons olive oil
300 grams (1 cup) medjool dates, cut up
3 eggs (for vegan, replace each egg with one tablespoon chia seeds stirred with two tablespoons of water and left to thicken. So 3 tablespoons chia mixed into 6 of water, stirred)
Handful of chopped nuts or cocoa nibs
Preheat oven to 170C (375F). Grease and line a 20cm tin with baking paper. Melt over a low heat in a bowl over simmering water your chocolate until smooth. If it is sugar free don’t try to melt it, just cut it into chunks. Blend all your ingredients together well and mix into a paste. Mix in chocolate chunks and extras, if you are using them. Spoon into your prepared tin and smooth down with a large spoon or knife. Bake for 15-25 minutes, until the top is no longer wet and there is no jiggle (don’t overbake!) Chill until cold before cutting and eating, dusting with cocoa powder.