black bean brownies (MLLA#10)

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summary: recipe for black bean brownies; in praise of “The Brilliant Bean” by Sally and Martin Stone; delicious with ice cream and cherries jubilee; information about My Legume Love Affair (click on image to see larger views and more photos)

My Legume Love Affair #10: Starters and Desserts

black beans Aren’t beans are the most amazing things? They’re brilliant, in fact, as Sally and Martin Stone have pointed out in their wonderful book The Brilliant Bean.

I confess that haven’t made a lot of the actual recipes in the cookbook (even though they look awfully good – remind me to try them out!) but I have definitely used the Stones’ dried bean cooking method and often refer to their cooking times chart. Those things alone are worth the price of the book.

brownie And then there is the brownie recipe in the dessert section at the back. It calls for black beans (aka turtle, frijoles negros, Mexican black) rather than flour.

It has been ages since I made black bean brownies. Normally, when I make brownies, I use flour and make Brownies Cockaigne in The Joy of Cooking. But when I saw that this month’s theme for MLLA was desserts and starters, I remembered how fabulous the Stones’ flourless black bean brownie recipe was and how really wonderful the brownies were. I decided to make them for our recent Easter feast.

Why bake with beans when flour produces a product by which all – or most – standards are set? […] But beans do offer at least two guarantees over white flour and whole wheat flour baking. The product will be more nutritious, containing fiber, protein and ohte healtful componens tat are milled away in white flour productions. The product is also moister than that produced by white or whole wheat flours. […] Bean purees contain a good deal of water and so baking times are longer. But if you like moist, almost creamy-textured cakes, beans are beautiful.

– Sally and Martin Stone, The Brilliant Bean, p.251

Yes, black bean brownies look and taste JUST like brownies, even though there is no flour at all. They are a little fudgy on the inside and very chocolatey. They’re… well… they’re brilliant.

Of course, icing is always nice on brownies (nice??? Ha. Generally, I’d say icing is essential on brownies!) but we decided that ice cream and cherries jubilee would be fun too. And although we are gluttons, even we knew that icing would get lost.

brownies We served the brownies with ice cream – offering a choice of mango, cardamom or sweet cream – and cherries jubilee. (Stay tuned for more details about making cherries jubilee.)

Here’s how I made the black bean brownies. Did I mention that they’re brilliant?

Black Bean Brownies
based on Sally and Martin Stone’s recipe for “Black Bean Brownies” (p.253 The Brilliant Bean)

enough for a 8″ square pan

bean purée

  • ¼ c dried black beans*
  • water

Make sure all ingredients are at room temperature!

  • ½ c (120ml) bean purée from above
  • 2 squares (56gm) unsweetened chocolate
  • ½ c (120ml) unsalted butter
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 c (250ml) sugar
  • ¼ tsp vanilla
  • 1 Tbsp strong coffee
  • ½ c (120ml) Thompson raisins, optional**


  1. bean purée At least a few hours*** before you are going to make the brownies, sort (to remove stones) and wash the beans well. Put the washed beans in a big pot and cover with fresh cold water. Remove any beans that are floating. DO NOT ADD SALT. Bring to a boil. Immediately turn down to a low simmer. Simmer about 1 hour partially covered. After half an hour of cooking, check to see if beans are tender. If not, simmer a little longer.
  2. When the beans are the right consistency, remove from heat, drain and set aside until it’s time to make the brownies. It’s a good idea to leave the beans in the colander to continue draining. You want them to be as dry as possible.
  3. brownies: Preheat oven to 350F.
  4. Melt butter and chocolate in a double boiler set over gently simmering water. When melted, set aside to cool. (Joy of Cooking says that if the chocolate/butter mixture is not allowed to cool, the brownies will end up “heavy and dry”)
  5. While the chocolate is melting, butter the bottom and sides of a 8″x8″ rectangular cake pan. Set aside.
  6. Purée the beans in a food processor.****
  7. Whisk eggs (make sure they are room-temperature!) and salt until foamy and light in colour.
  8. Whisk in sugar and vanilla until the mixture is creamy.
  9. Ensure that the chocolate/butter mixture is well cooled. Add it to the egg/sugar mixture. With as few strokes as possible, using a wooden spoon or rubber scraper, stir in the chocolate and coffee until they are almost fully encorporated. (Just as for the “Joy of Cooking” brownie recipe, I follow the instruction that while using a mixer for the previous steps, it is absolutely essential to do this and the following steps by hand.)
  10. Add the bean purée and gently fold it in.
  11. If using, gently stir in the raisins.
  12. Pour batter into the BUTTERED cake pan and bake at 350F for 45 minutes, until a cake tester comes out cleanly. The Stones say to bake 5 or 10 minutes longer if you like a drier textured brownie.

Allow to cool completely before cutting.


* According to Sally and Martin Stone in “The Brilliant Bean”, most dried beans double in volume and weight after being soaked and cooked. Soybeans and chickpeas can triple.

“As a general rule, 1 cup (8oz) of dried beans increases to 2 to 2½ c (1 to 1¼ lb) of cooked beans. One cup of dried beans is usually enough to serve four as a side dish.”

… (1 lb = 453.6 gm)

Canned beans can be used as well. Drain and rinse the beans first. The liquid in canned beans is often a bit stinky, murky, and oversalted.

** If you are planning to ice the brownies, add Thompson raisins. Omit the raisins if serving brownies with cherries jubilee.

*** After washing well, beans can be soaked in plenty of cold water overnight as well. In the morning, remove any floaters, drain the beans, rinse and cover again with plenty of fresh cold water before cooking. The beans that float are damaged slightly and may contain the enzyme that will cause gut pain. The same goes for the soaking water. The amount of nutrients lost by discarding the water is negligible (or at least that’s what I think).

**** It’s likely that you will have more than ½ c of puréed beans. Use the extra to make black bean dip. (Fry diced onions, cumin, powdered coriander seed in olive oil til the onions are tender; add beans, oregano, black pepper and salt. Serve with pita triangles or corn chips.)

I see that I’m not the first to make bean brownies for MLLA; Ricki (Diet, Dessert and Dogs) posted about Gluten-Free Chocolate-Walnut Brownies in February 2008.

There are many many other desserts featuring beans in The Brilliant Bean: “gingered bean and carrot cake”, “rum cashew red bean pie”, “lemony garbanzo bean cake”… I really will have to take a closer look! And I can’t wait to see what the others have made for MLLA this month!

My Legume Love Affair #10: Starters and DessertsMy Legume Love Affair (MLLA)
A while back, Susan (The Well Seasoned Cook) created this event to celebrate and expand our legume repertoire. She wrote:

Legumes are […] chock full of protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals, they are one of the natural wonders of the plant kingdom and a staple where meat, fish or dairy are scarce.

This month, Courtney (Coco Cooks) is hosting and has chosen “starters and desserts” as the theme.

This month’s entry must be either a Starter or Dessert. […] All recipes must have a legume as the star ingredient. […] Legumes are not to be confused with the French term for vegetable. Think beans, lentils, pulses, and/or the sometimes edible pods that contain these seeds, and derivative products like tofu that are made from soy. [Email Coco Cooks about your entry and include the following information:

– Your name
– The name of your blog and its URL
– The URL to your post
– Your location
– A photo – optional (not to exceed 400 pixels)]

The deadline for posting is 30 April 2009.

Ooooh!! I just noticed that there is a prize being offered!! A Random Drawing from the MLLA#10 post will be taken and the prize will be what looks to be a beautiful book: The Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving. Useful too! Oh, I hope I win!

For complete details on how to participate in My Legume Love Affair, please read the following:

edit: Here is the MLLA 10 roundup. Whoohooo! Legume starters and desserts galore!


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9 responses to “black bean brownies (MLLA#10)

  1. katie

    Wow, this is a new one for me… Chewy, chocolaty and healthy! Yep, I’m in. I don’t have to share, do I?

    I even have some black beans (not easily available in France – I got them in Andorra)

  2. ejm Post author

    Almost all the dessert recipes are flour-less, MrsBrown. I think I may NEED to try the gingered bean and carrot cake soon. (It has cream cheese icing….)

    Tanna, have you made the carrot cake? And have you made a lot of the savoury dishes in the book too?

    My pleasure, Ricki.

    Katie, of course you don’t have to share! But you should probably pretend you’re sharing it – make TWO pans and only bring one pan out into public view. Nobody has to know what you’re doing in the pantry for such a long time and if they ask about your smug expression as you emerge carrying a fork and an empty pan, you can say you’ve been tidying….


  3. your sister

    The brownies were amazing. The ice cream and cherries jubilee were excellent too. I especially liked the part of the brownies that had been touching the pan – it gave a slightly crispy edge to go along with the voluptuous centre part.

  4. Laura

    I made these today, with a few modifications and they were faaaaaaabulous. Thank you thank you!!

    Black bean brownies

    1 Cup Pureed black beans.
    3 eggs
    1 Tablespoon Coffee (black)
    3/4 Cup Veggie Oil
    8Tablespoon (1/2 Cup) Cocoa (this could probably be less, it’s has a very dark chocolate flavor)
    1/4 teaspoon Salt
    3/4 Cup Sugar
    1 teaspoon baking powder.

    To puree the beans, put them in a blender, and add a bit of water until you can blend them. They should be about the consistency of hummus when you’re done.

    Mix all wet ingredients (eggs, vanilla, veg oil, beans, coffee). In a separate bowl, mix all dry ingredients so you don’t end up with clumps of baking powder. Mix wet and dry ingredients gently until all ingredients are wet (just like regular brownies….about 20 strokes).
    Preheat oven to 350.
    Bake in a a greased 9×13 pan for 45-45 min @ 350.

    If you like the flatter type of brownie, you could try omitting the baking powder. I added 1/3 cup dried cherries for additional YUM factor.

    So glad you made and like the brownies, Laura. And many thanks for posting your variation! I bet the addition of the dried cherries was delicious. -Elizabeth

  5. Tonya

    I made the black bean brownie recipe from 101 Cookbooks and LOVED them. Who knew!

    Recipe and more details here:

    It is pretty amazing that there is no flour in the black bean brownies, isn’t it, Tonya? How cool that the 101 Cookbooks Amazing Black Bean Brownie Recipe (from “Baking With Agave Nectar: Over 100 Recipes Using Nature’s Ultimate Sweetener” by Ania Catalano) has no sugar either but calls for agave nectar instead. Thanks for pointing to the recipe. -Elizabeth


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