Nutrition and Fitness with Randa

An Unlikely Brownie

A friend of mine told me about a brownie that uses black beans instead of flour, inspired by Heidi Swanson's recipes. My initial thought, "But how can it be? Wouldn't it taste more like a burrito than a brownie?" When I took my first bite, I was amazed! They were rich, moist and fudge-like, with not a hint of bean-y flavor. What's more, black beans are packed with fiber and protein, as well as antioxidants called anthocyanins - when researchers analyzed different types of beans, they found that, the darker the bean's seed coat, the higher its level of antioxidant activity. Gram for gram, black beans were found to have the most antioxidant activity. How's that for some bean trivia?

Not that you'll want to polish off the entire batch in one sitting, but isn't it good to know that these little black powerhouses add somewhat of a redeeming quality to the much-loved brownie? Not to mention that agave nectar (or honey if you cannot find it) is used in place of the more refined white sugar. I have also omitted two eggs in favor of a fruit puree of your choice.

I invite you to try these flourless, oh-so-good black bean brownies!


  • 4 ounces unsweetened chocolate or dark chocolate
  • 1 cup unsalted butter or smart balance butter
  • 2 cups soft-cooked black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup walnuts, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 heaping tbsp applesauce, mashed banana, or canned pumpkin
  • 1½ cups light agave nectar (or 1½ cups honey)

1. Preheat the oven to 325°F. Line a rimmed 11- by 18-inch baking pan with  parchment paper and lightly spray with canola oil spray.

2. Melt the chocolate and butter in a glass bowl in the microwave for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes on high. Stir with a spoon to melt the chocolate completely.

3. Place the beans, walnuts, vanilla extract, and the melted chocolate mixture into the bowl of a food processor. Blend about 2-3 minutes, or until smooth. Add salt and blend. The batter should be thick and the beans smooth. Set aside.

4. In a separate bowl, with an electric mixer beat the eggs until light and creamy, about 1 minute. Add the agave nectar and beat well.

5. Add the egg mixture to the bean/chocolate mixture. Mix well. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until the brownies are set. Let cool in the pan completely before cutting into squares. (They will be soft until refrigerated. Keep them in the refrigerator until ready to eat.)

Makes 45 (2-inch) brownies.

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  1. Here is another black bean recipe with peanut butter
    1 cup of black beans, low sodium, drained

    1/3 cup of apple sauce

    2 tablespoons cocoa powder

    1 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips

    1 cup of natural peanut butter

    ½ of chopped nuts (whatever you like)

    3 eggs

    ½ cup of honey

    Combine eggs, honey and cocoa powder until smooth. Fold in peanut butter. Combine black beans and apple sauce in food processor or blender until smooth. Add to honey mixture. Chop or process chocolate chips until fine and add to mixture. Fold in nuts last.

    Bake in pan sprayed with Smart Balance spray or oil and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

  2. Thanks, Laurie! I love the addition of peanut butter. Yum!

  3. A reader asked about how to omit the eggs and substitute the fruit puree: Substitute 3 tablespoons of fruit puree (applesauce, mashed banana, prune puree) or even yogurt (I like Greek) per ONE egg.
    Another option for a nuttier flavor is to substitute 1 tablespoon flax seed powder and 3 tablespoons water per ONE egg. This would work great in muffins, pancakes and breads, too.

  4. I have also read about a Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe using cannellini beans!

  5. Really, any beans could be used, as well as most purees, such as carrot and spinach. The sky’s the limit!

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