Black Bean Brownies

 In the health foodie community, black bean brownies are nothing new. But the majority of folks will still raise an eyebrow when you tell them the secret ingredient in this dessert. In the West, we think of beans as being a strictly savory ingredient, but it's actually really common to find them in Asian desserts.  Adzuki beans in particular (which I have also used in this recipe to great success) are naturally sweet and have a smooth, soft texture that lends well to ice cream, mochi, and cakes. 

This recipe calls for ordinary black beans, but I've also made them many times with azuki beans. I also used a small amount of chickpea flour, but you can substitute brown rice flour, whole wheat, or any other flour you have on hand.

The flavor and texture of these treats are similar enough to a brownie to call them as such, but they are really somewhere between a brownie and fudge. Whatever name you call them, they're silky, chocolatey, and rich. 

The brownies are packed with fiber and nutrients from the beans and walnuts. The black beans are high in iron, and a great staple food for people with blood deficiency, especially those who choose not to eat meat. Azuki beans, on the other hand, are also good at invigorating the blood in cases of stasis. The walnuts are also considered an "herb" in the Chinese materia medica, used to tonify yang, nourish Kidney essence, and moisten the intestines.

Black Bean Brownies

3.5 oz dark chocolate (70%)

1 cup walnuts

1 1/2 cups black beans or adzuki beans, drained*

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 eggs, beaten

1/3 cup maple syrup

1/4 cup natural cocoa powder

1/2 cup chickpea flour, or other flour of choice

  1. Combine the first four ingredients in a food processor.
  2. Add in the eggs and maple syrup. Blend.
  3. Add the flour and cocoa powder. Blend.
  4. Pour the mixture into a greased 9 x 11" baking dish.
  5. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes. Cool before serving.

*Black foods are said to nourish the kidneys, while red foods like adzuki bean nourish the heart.