Spicy Black Bean Brownies

30 Mon, 2011 § 4 Comments

Dave & I are particular about our brownies.  We like them dense & moist.  You know the kind that leaves its mark on your napkin?

These flourless, black bean brownies just looked like they would suit our taste.  It seemed more than a little strange to use black beans as a base, but we were willing to give them a try.  Amazingly, they create perfectly dense, rich, bite-sized, fudge-textured brownies with a subtle kick from the cayenne I added.  Not even a hint of bean flavor lingered.  They were a hit at a recent potluck.

Because the original recipe calls for 4 eggs, I knew substituting them would change the consistency.  I have yet to find a really great vegan brownie recipe & wanted these to be fudgy & moist.  I feel good about the eggs we buy from a woman I know who loves her chickens & takes really great care of them.  In general, I do prefer to bake without eggs because I can usually make it work; so please offer suggestions that will keep these dense & moist.  I was afraid 4 flax “eggs” would make them too “flaxy” but let me know if you try it…

…because you need to try these.

They are especially delicious with coconut ice cream.

Adapted from Baking with Agave Nectar by Ania Catalano

Fudge Brownies with Black Beans, Cayenne & Agave

Makes 45 (2-inch) brownies.

  • 4 ounces extra-bitter chocolate
  • 1 cup Earth Balance
  • 2 cups soft-cooked black beans, drained & rinsed well
  • 1 cup almond meal, divided
  • 1 tsp cayenne
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1½ cups raw blue agave nectar

Preheat the oven to 325°F. Line an 11- by 18-inch rimmed baking pan with parchment paper & oil lightly.

Melt the chocolate & butter in a double boiler (or microwave).  Stir with a spoon to melt the chocolate completely.

Mix the cayenne with 1/2 cup of the almond meal.  Combine this with the beans, vanilla extract & a couple of spoonfuls of the melted chocolate mixture in a large bowl.  Using an immersion blender, blend several minutes or until smooth.  The batter should be thick & the beans smooth (otherwise they might be gritty). Set aside.

In a medium bowl, mix together the remaining 1/2 cup almond meal, the remaining melted chocolate mixture & salt.  Mix well & set aside.

In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs until light & creamy, about 1 minute with an electric whisk.  Add the agave nectar & beat well.  Set aside.

Combine the bean/chocolate mixture with the almond meal/chocolate mixture.  Stir until blended well.

Add the egg mixture, reserving about 1/4 cup.  Mix well.  Pour the batter into the prepared pan.  Using an electric mixer or whisk, beat the remaining 1/2 cup egg mixture until light & fluffy.  Drizzle over the brownie batter.  Use a wooden toothpick to pull the egg mixture through the batter, creating a marbled effect.

Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until the brownies are set.  Let cool in the pan completely before moving to the fridge.  They will remain soft until refrigerated.  Cut into squares.



19 Fri, 2010 § 4 Comments

Playing outdoors often means packing & hauling quite a bit of gear around.  Bouldering: crash pads, chalk buckets, climbing shoes, Klean Kanteens, guide book, etc.   Mountain biking: bikes, camelback, water, tools, etc.

Whether we are climbing, backpacking, camping…hauling around heavy — or even light — bowls for Eisley is simply not efficient.

Our girl must have water though, & as perfect as Dave’s large hands work for a makeshift drinking bowl, we’ve found another solution to the problem of carrying bulky items.

This Pet Bowlz by Fozzils unsnaps to flat & is extremely lightweight.  It easily slides/packs for all of our outdoor excursions.  The set is great for trips as well; rather than packing heavy bowls from home, she simply ate her meals from these when visiting family or while camping.  Honestly, as we are moving around & trying to simplify/reduce our “stuff”, these have become her permanent “bowlz”.

  • Ultra Lightweight
  • Packs Flat
  • Sturdy
  • Easy to Clean
  • Bright Colors easy to See [even in dim lighting = good for camping]

Nearly every time we are out, we comment how glad we are Dave found these at the Black Diamond Store; I think they were ~$16 – $20.  I believe you can find these at REI as well as other outdoor retailers.

Another snappy solution we’ve come to love while playing hard?

A means to hold our rings.

After seeing Natalie’s brilliant tip for protecting wedding bands while lifting weights,

I thought I’d share what we do with ours while climbing.

This nifty, spring-locking clasp hangs from our key chain as the perfect ring holder.  I think they came from a couple crazy little Cootie key chains I had — do you remember Cooties?!  So fun!

Now I’m not sure how to tie this next bit in with the “snap” concept…oh wait —

Harrummph [clearing my throat] —

I used to be bewildered & intimidated by bean burger recipes.  I thought it had to be tricky to create just the right consistency to hold the burgers together.  You know what?  They are a snap.  😉

Tuesday evening rolled around, pasta was on the menu; & it just sounded too heavy.  We wanted something lighter, like salads, but with a nice bit of protein & some texture.

A can of black beans called out, & I decided to just go for it & make my own burger creation.

Slightly crunchy on the outside, moist & soft on the inside — these were tasty. I’ll definitely be experimenting with burger creations more!  Maybe I’ll try adding actual olives next time.

Olive Black Bean Burgers

makes 4 burgers

Preheat oven to 350*F.

  • ~1/3 C bread crumbs, toasted [toast bread before tearing into crumbs]

[any bread will do, but the olive artisan loaf we used added a nice flavor]

  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp corriander
  • ½ tsp garlic powder [or 1 clove fresh garlic]
  • ½ tsp onion powder [~2T fresh onion, chopped]
  • substantial dash of red pepper flakes
  • dash dried parsley
  • salt & pepper to taste

In a food processor, process bread crumbs & seasonings to combine.

  • 1 can black beans, drained [~1 heaping cup]
  • 1 tsp EVOO

Add beans & oil to processor & pulse until coarsely chopped, leaving the beans somewhat chunky.  Don’t over-process, or you might get mush.

  • 1 flax”egg” [whisk 1T ground flaxseed with 3T warm water & let sit ~10minutes]

Add to processor & pulse a couple times until just combined.

Roll into 4 balls & flatten onto a lightly oiled baking sheet.

Bake at 350*F for ~20 minutes per side [~40minutes total].


How do you keep your rings safe & prevent losing a finger while working out or playing hard?

A Naked Pantry & Left to My Own Devices

20 Fri, 2010 § Leave a comment

I nearly succumbed to the temptation of eating primarily toast today, augmented with scraping the almond butter container clean with my last few dates & finishing off the green tea coconut ice cream straight from the pint.  However, I was determined to eat as healthily, clean & whole as possible today.  Problem is there is not much left in the way of produce around this place until our Bountiful Basket pickup tomorrow.

The fridge is all but bare; the pantry is fairly sparse.  As my tummy grumbles, I am left rummaging for any remaining scraps & pulling all the creative stops I can muster.  The result?  Some pretty bizarre, but surprisingly tasty, concoctions.

Morning Fuel:

Second-Time Broiled Sweet Potatoes

Roasted sweet potatoes are one of my absolute favorites: Mmm, slightly crispy outside, mushy inside.

  • Slice, toss with coconut oil & sea salt; bake on a sheet for about 35 minutes, turning to brown both sides if you would like.

Japanese sweet potatoes are ginormous, with taupe-colored skins.  These took nearly 50 minutes to roast.  I do not like the Japanese variety as much, but they are still tasty.  I always make plenty so I have leftovers the next day.  Last night’s leftovers became this morning’s whimsical experiment.  To reheat — & crisp & brown them a bit more — I broiled them about 12 inches from the heat for about 10 minutes on each side, until they were done to my liking.  FYI: “nearly” burnt — we will call it “blackened” — sweet pots taste reminiscent of roasted marshmallows, I am just saying. 😉

Often I will top these with almond butter, but I like to eat mostly fruit for breakfast lately & did not think plums would pair well, so…


Second-Time Broiled Sweet Potatoes a` la Mode

I topped the taters with Extra Whipped PB-Banana Soft Serve.

I liked it.  🙂

After yoga I decided I needed something green & had just enough spinach & rice milk for a Green Monster…but I wanted more texture & protein.


Green Monster Soup

I added a generous amount of cinnamon to a bowl of Ezekiel Sprouted Grain Cereal, then simply poured over my strawberry-spinach Green Monster & topped with pepitas [pumpkin seeds] & a chopped date.  It soaked nicely while I took photos.

Another random winner.

Lunch: the challenge.

I was craving bread but opted for a lighter favorite made from rice: a Mochi waffle.  Mmm, crispy exterior, chewy interior.  Sensing a pattern yet? 😀

  • To make waffle, cut ¼” slices [about 8] of mochi & lay cut-side down on preheated, ungreased waffle iron; close securely & cook until puffed & slightly crisp but not too hard & dry, about 3 minutes, or until your waffle iron signals it is done.  [Mine is pretty accurate].

Since this mochi was unflavored, eating it plain would have been boring & unsatisfying, but did I have anything that would make it savory & filling?  This is why, even if you are like me & generally cook your own beans, you keep at least one can on hand.  You never know when it may save the day.

On a total chance, I coarsely pureed about:

  • 1 C cooked Black Beans
  • 1 T fresh Lime Juice
  • a little cayenne
  • a little coriander
  • a dash of garlic powder

Good, but with quite the kick.  I must have been a little carried away with the cayenne.  I really wished I had had tomatoes or something to cool it down.  After some desperate searching, I came across a lonely cucumber in the bottom of the crisper.  Perfect.

Black Bean & Cucumber Mochi Waffle Appetizers


I cannot help but laugh while typing most of this post.  I am not suggesting you make these right away, though I really enjoyed them & certainly will replicate versions.  I simply wanted to show that even with my bare fridge, my tummy & health were saved by a little creativity & willingness to wing it. 😉

What are your healthy fall backs when the kitchen is nearing nakedness?  What random concoctions have you made out of desperation?  Share your hits & misses.

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