It doesn’t happen often, but I have just rendered my daughter speechless. Not that she’s particularly loquacious, but she will speak her mind as necessary. And pass honest judgement on her old Mum’s cooking. More particularly my modest attempts at baking. Ouch.
When my Rachel was young I would make a good effort at donning a ‘pinny’ and doing a spot of after-school baking with her. But even then it was mostly breadsticks, flatbreads, or making something for a bake sale: we would lick the spoon and tidy the edges of course.As most of you are aware I am much more attuned to savoury foods than sweet. This is a particular handicap that translates itself into a general lack of enthusiasm for baking cakes and cookies. I do get a hankering for sweet things, but when it hits it is sudden – perhaps hormonal? – and readily assuaged with a hefty snap of dark chocolate, or even a fat Medjool date (sad to admit).
Mostly I crave the salty and the crisp. It could be seeded flatbreads, kale chips, popcorn – even plain tortilla chips (always bought; usually the cheapo supermarket-own ones. I know. I know.). But of course I am not a complete weirdo. I appreciate good home baking. Just yesterday I was tempted by the freshly baked-on-the-premises cakes at the fab Whitmuir The Organic Place cafe, but time and a full stomach nixed me getting a slice. So, I am not averse to cake. And more importantly, as a good American – albeit an ex-pat one – I can’t say no to a good brownie. My favourite ‘normal’ brownie is this one, but minus the mint. It is beautifully chewy and deeply chocolatey, even though it is made with cocoa and not chocolate. And this gluten-free flour brownie, studded with raspberries, is pretty awesome too.
But why be normal?
Many of you will already be well aware of the black bean brownie and of its many iterations. I don’t know about you, but a number of the recipes I have road-tested over the years haven’t been that great. It may have been my interpretation or liberal way with a timer, but still. Normally I will give up on a baking recipe if it doesn’t please me – us – but I knew that with just a little tinkering around I might be able to crack it. Or rather, softly pull it apart. Cracking is not what you want in a brownie!
I am not sure who first came up with the idea of subbing flour for beans but I would like to shake their hand. They are a genius. I just hope you like my little spin. Before I give give you the recipe, a few side notes. Some of the photos were taken in the summer when raspberries were in season (yes, I have been keeping this from you for that long!). We love berries with chocolate so if you have some good ones available I can heartily recommend popping some on top as a a perky garnish, or even pushed into the brownies just as the pan emerges from the oven (like I do with my lemon polenta cake and the gluten-free flour brownies). Today I made this up using Aduki/Adzuki beans, those little reddish almost sweet beans used in Japanese and Chinese cooking (as in red bean paste).
Today’s images are the rather funky ones made on my phone. I wasn’t planning on using them here on the blog so they are all rather messy in their presentation, but I don’t think you’ll mind. Gooey brownies can’t be tamed anyway. 🙂 My other tweaks today were that I lessened the fat a smidge and subbed in some peanut butter; I also decreased the sugar and used some decadent caramel milk chocolate drops (Silver Spoon, if you are interested). The latter is what rendered my most honest critic speechless: the shop bought add-in. Oh the shame. And I have to admit I too liked the goo. So, in light of this I give tips for both the healthy-ish version and the wannabe healthy version. Your choice!
Last year: Quick Hot Chocolate Sauce with Iced Berries ( I make this for my weight management classes)
Three years ago (Food To Glow turns 3 on February 14th): Quinoa and Smoked Mackerel Fishcakes (we still make these!)
Miss R’s track of the week: Tensnake’s cover of Nile Rodgers and Fiora’s Love Sublime
Grain-free but not taste-free! I use the peanut butter more as a fat replacement and to aid the texture than for its taste, but do add more for a proper nutty taste, or use all oil. Although black beans are more common in recipes like this, aduki (or adzuki) beans are actually sweeter and perhaps better. I prefer them.
390g tin* (1 ¼ cup) aduki beans or black beans, drained and rinsed
60g (1/3 cup) dark brown sugar or coconut sugar (the latter whizzed up further in a food processor) + 3 fat Medjool dates, chopped OR 85g (1/2 cup) dark brown sugar/coconut sugar
1 tsp best quality vanilla extract (Ndali is my preferred one)
30g (1/3 cup) unsweetened cocoa or cacao powder
¼ tsp salt (can use ½ tsp)
2 tbsp nut butter of choice (or use a total of 4 tbsp of oil instead; see just below)
3 tbsp rapeseed oil OR melted coconut butter
2 medium eggs OR 2 ‘chia eggs’ or other vegan egg substitute of choice
A few tablespoons dark or plain chocolate chips, for the top (you can also add some to the batter but this makes it more calorific) OR 100g pack of caramel chocolate drops (or similar) to stir in – luxury option
50g chopped nuts – optional for in the mix or on top
1. Preheat your oven to 180C/350F. Oil muffin cups, use muffin cup papers or line a small square baking tin (8 inches square) with baking parchment – loose-bottomed is best
2. Pop everything but the chocolate chips into the bowl of a food processor and blend until smooth. Scrape down the sides as necessary. Remove the blade and fold the chocolate chips in with a spatula, if using. The batter will seem impossibly liquid. Really rather alarmingly so. Don’t worry. All comes right in the baking. I promise.
3. Pour the mixture into the muffin cups or the tin. Top with chocolate chips or nuts if you like. If you are using the caramel chocolate drops anything on top is definitely overkill…
4. Bake 12 minutes for muffin-sized brownies, and about 20 minutes for the square tin. Bake a little longer for firmer, cakier brownies, but as written they firm up on cooling. Still fudgy though, especailly if you add something like the caramel drops. Anyway, let the brownies cool on a wire rack in their tin for about 10 minutes before popping out the brownie muffins or pulling up and out by the parchment paper.
Makes 12-16 small brownies or 9-10 muffins. Eat warm from the oven, or store in the refrigerator. Pop in the oven or microwave to warm.