Black Bean Brownies


I promised you all a “fun – and very interesting – chocolate treat” on Valentine’s Day.  So it’s about time I deliver on that promise, don’t you think?!

I’ve been eyeing this recipe for nearly a year.  Every since I bought Baking With Agave Nectar and flipped through its pages “ooh-ing” and “ohh-ing” at all the yummiest sounding goodies.  There were a lot of those.  But one recipe in particular stood out for its novelty.  I was intrigued.  Being the curious cat that I am, I knew I had to give it a go. 

That’s how this Valentine’s Day became Black Bean Brownie Day.  Yep, you heard me.  Black bean.  Brownie.  Romantic, no?


Here’s the recipe.  Besides halving it and using non-hydrogenated shortening instead of butter, I followed everything to a tee.  I may be an experimenter, but baking with black beans was a totally new experience for me.  Figured it would be best to go with the creator’s vision for this one!

2 ounces unsweetened chocolate

1/2 cup non-hydrogenated shortening

1 cup cooked black beans

1/2 cup walnuts

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 tablespoons instant coffee

1/8 teaspoon salt

2 eggs

3/4 cup agave nectar

Preheat the oven to 325*F.  Spray a 12×8-inch pan with cooking spray and set aside. Melt unsweetened chocolate and non-hydrogenated shortening in a bowl in the microwave for about 2 minutes on high. Stir with spoon to melt chocolate completely. Place black beans, 1/4 cup walnuts, vanilla extract and a couple spoonfuls of the melted chocolate mixture into a food processor and blend until smooth.  In a large bowl, mix together remaining 1/4 cup walnuts, remaining melted chocolate mixture, instant coffee and salt. Add bean/chocolate mixture to coffee/chocolate mixture and stir until well blended.  In a separate bowl, beat eggs with an electric mixer until light and creamy, about 1 minute. Add agave nectar and beat well. Add egg mixture to chocolate mixture, reserving about 1/4 cup, and mix well. Pour batter into prepared pan.  Beat remaining 1/4 cup egg mixture with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Drizzle over brownie batter. Use a wooden toothpick to pull egg mixture through batter, creating a marbled effect. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes. Let cool in the pan before cutting into squares.



So here’s my two cents on these brownies…

They’ve definitely got the chocolate-y fudge factor going on – a brownie requirement in my book.  And you can’t beat the stellar ingredient list.  You’d never guess beans are a key player!   And no flour?!  No way!

But there are a couple things I’d change next time around.  I wouldn’t do the whole egg and agave swirl.  I can only imagine this is for looks and the marbled visual effect faded away after a day. So just adding all the egg and agave into the batter at once seems fine with me.  I’d cut out some instant coffee because that flavor stood out too much for me.  I’m not a coffee fan, remember?  And I’d un-halve the recipe, but use the same size pan.  I say the thicker the better!

Overall though, cool recipe.  Good times.

What’s the most unusual ingredient you’ve used in a baked good?


42 Responses to “Black Bean Brownies”

  1. 3 HangryPants February 18, 2009 at 12:50 am

    I actually made a different version of these last year. Coincidentally, I got violently ill that same day and could never make or eat them again.

    I baked muffins with gorgonzola cheese and pears once, but I think beans take the cake.

  2. 4 Jessica February 18, 2009 at 1:17 am

    These look great, thanks for sharing. I appreciate your notes on what you’d change next time and hope to try these soon.

  3. 7 Lauren February 18, 2009 at 8:59 am

    Adding beans to a baked good is such an interesting (and healthy!) idea – what’s your take on subbing in applesauce for the shortening/butter?

  4. 8 lauren (athlEAT) February 18, 2009 at 9:08 am

    whoa – that is so cool. I want to try these.

  5. 9 Courtney (The Hungry Yogini) February 18, 2009 at 9:11 am

    Those look really yummy! Who would have thought black beans!

  6. 10 Betsy February 18, 2009 at 10:54 am

    So awesome, I’ll have to try this – I use black beans & agave frequently, but never in a combo like this!

  7. 11 Kati February 18, 2009 at 11:22 am

    I’ve wanted to try this before! I have a question for you: do you know where I could buy agave in bulk? I love it and want to bake more with it, but so far I’ve only bought a 11.75 ounce bottle. Thanks for a great recipe!

  8. 12 Amy February 18, 2009 at 11:40 am

    Yum! I just bought this book and have been needing to try more from it. I do think the recipes need some alterations so if I try these I’ll definitely listen to your modifications. Maybe I’ll make some this weekend!

  9. 13 sweetandnatural February 18, 2009 at 1:42 pm

    Emily, Jessica, lauren (athlEAT) – Let me know what you think if you try the recipe!

    Sharon – Pretty interesting, right?!

    HangryPants – Oh no! Hope it wasn’t the brownies…

    caitlin – I thought so too. 🙂

    VeggieGirl – They were pretty yum!

    Lauren – I don’t typically go for the applesauce substitution in things like brownies or cookies b/c I prefer dense and chewy to soft and cakey. And I’d be a little nervous to try it in this recipe b/c I think you need solid binders due to the lack of flour. But if you give it a try, let me know how it goes!

    Courtney (The Hungry Yogini) – It’s a pretty unique secret ingredient!

    Betsy – Have you ever baked anything with black beans? Let us know if you have a cool recipe!

    Kati – I’ve never seen jumbo containers in stores. But I Googled “agave nectar bulk” and a bunch of links came up where you can order online. Good luck!

    Amy – Fill me in on any other recipes you try too!

  10. 14 Mariposa February 18, 2009 at 1:56 pm

    love the black bean brownies! i havent tried making them yet, but i have seen other bloggers do them.. *one of these days!!!!*

  11. 15 Hayley February 18, 2009 at 2:28 pm

    I can’t wait to try these out, fudgy brownies are the only way to go in my book. Thanks for the recipe!

  12. 16 Angela February 18, 2009 at 6:08 pm

    oh my gosh black beans in brownies!? love it.

    The most unusual ingredient I have used is zucchini in brownies. They were pretty darn moist and nutritious!

  13. 17 ttfn300 February 18, 2009 at 7:02 pm

    i’ve been meaning to try these out!!! i like my lentil cookies and beet cake 🙂

  14. 18 Bridget February 18, 2009 at 7:35 pm

    I’ve had my eye on this recipe for about a year, too! Someday I’ll be brave enough to try it 🙂

  15. 19 Andrea [bella eats] February 18, 2009 at 7:38 pm

    I saw these in the book and have been so intrigued by them! My strangest cooking ingredient is definitely the tofu I put in the vegan banana date bread out of Baking with Agave…unfortunately I played with the recipe to much and the bread didn’t come out, so I haven’t has success with my strange ingredient yet!

  16. 20 Amanda February 19, 2009 at 10:03 am

    I’ve used canned pumpkin and diet soda in with a cake mix once. It was good! Diet soda cake used to be one of my favorite things to make, lol.

  17. 21 sweetandnatural February 19, 2009 at 1:54 pm

    Mariposa – There are a lot of versions flying around out there, but this was the first I’d seen!

    Hayley – Fudge is the way to go. 🙂

    Angela – I’ve had zucchini bread, but not brownies!

    ttfn300 – Lentil cookies are pretty interesting!

    Bridget – No bravery needed – it’s easy! Maybe a little more time consuming than your typical brownie recipe, but not hard at all.

    Andrea [bella eats] – I saw that recipe too! I just never seem to have the right tofu on hand.

    Amanda – I’ve heard of soda cake! Never tried it though. 😛

  18. 22 coco February 19, 2009 at 8:45 pm

    oh…that looks amazing!!!!!! MUM MUM~~~~
    I have a couple of questions:
    1. can I use unsweetened cocoa powder instead of chocolate?
    2. can I use canola oil/apple sauce instead of the shortening?
    3. how much agave nectar you’d put next time? since you said you might add less?


  19. 23 Bridget February 19, 2009 at 8:47 pm

    I’ve wanted to try this recipe since I saw it on 101cookbooks!! Thanks for the reminder 🙂

  20. 24 Sarah February 20, 2009 at 2:41 am

    I’ve made the chocolate chips cookies with garbanzo beans out of Deceptively Delicious. I think they are disgusting, but my hubs and kids love them. We just call them “the bean cookies.” I would think black beans would be better since they aren’t as dry as chickpeas.

  21. 25 sweetandnatural February 20, 2009 at 11:47 am

    coco – Thanks for your questions! For 1 and 2, I personally would stick with the recipe. Since there’s no flour, the solidity of chocolate and shortening seems to be important. That way you don’t end up with crumbly brownies! Also, check out my response re: applesauce above. For 3, I would still use the same amount of agave. I would just put the whole egg and agave mixture into the batter instead of reserving some to drizzle on top. I’ll edit the post so that’s clearer.

    Bridget – Let me know what you think if you try it too!

    Sarah – I’ve heard of cookies like that! I may have to try bean cookies sometime soon!

  22. 26 Nicole February 20, 2009 at 1:29 pm

    Those black bean brownies look super tasty!

  23. 27 cleanveggiex3 February 21, 2009 at 7:41 am

    those look so delicious and moist!!

  24. 28 Hayley February 21, 2009 at 10:07 pm

    These remind me of a cookbook I have called “Desserts with a Difference,” which is an entire book dedicated to baked goods with all sorts of various vegetables thrown in. I have yet to try anything (I got it a couple months ago when my school’s library has a sale to get rid of some of the older books) but the recipes look so intriguing! I can’t wait to make the Chickpea-Hazelnut-Sour Cream cake. I’m all for trying out unique recipes, and it seems like a lot of things work well with chocolate (the book I have has a chocolate cake recipe that calls for mashed potatoes).

    Oh, and I’m totally with you on the coffee thing 🙂

  25. 29 sweetandnatural February 22, 2009 at 9:09 pm

    Nicole, deanveggiex3 – Thank you!

    Hayley – Oh my – that cake sounds incredible. I’m going to look into that book!

  26. 30 Erin February 23, 2009 at 12:48 pm

    Hmm…it’s not that unusual, but I’ve definitely used butternut squash in a cookie recipe 🙂

  27. 31 Meghann February 23, 2009 at 3:32 pm

    A while back some one made Back bean brownies on racheal ray and I’ve wanted to ry it myself ever since. Yours looks a tad healthier then the version on Racheal Ray too. 🙂

  28. 32 Kelly Turner February 24, 2009 at 2:03 pm

    these look like the perfect consistency!

    Kelly Turner

  29. 33 Joie de vivre February 24, 2009 at 6:46 pm

    Got to this one a few days late! I was just reading a recipe like this last night in a bean book I have and wondering if it would work. I’m so glad to hear that it does!

  30. 34 sweetandnatural February 24, 2009 at 11:50 pm

    Erin – Butternut squash in a cookie is new to me!

    Meghann – Now you’ve got me curious about the Rachael Ray version!

    Kelly Turner – They were fudgy!

    Joie de vivre – They’re fun! Try them out!

  31. 35 Sammie February 26, 2009 at 7:50 am

    Once I made cookies with potato chips in the batter. My hubs is a huge chip fan so the cookies were right up his ally – sweet and salty.

  32. 36 sweetandnatural February 27, 2009 at 10:14 am

    Sammie – I’ve heard of cookies like that, but have never tried them myself!

  33. 37 seeleelive (for the love of peanut butter) March 3, 2009 at 12:13 pm

    wow-thats a way to give a kid his veggies!

  34. 38 sweetandnatural March 6, 2009 at 3:40 pm

    seeleelive (for the love of peanut butter) – Jessica Seinfeld would be proud!

  35. 39 Iris June 8, 2009 at 9:43 pm

    These look amazing, and they’re gluten free, which means I can eat them! Thanks for the recipe! Have you ever made chocolate cake with garbanzo beans? It’s a similar idea, and also amazing!

  36. 40 vanessa February 12, 2010 at 10:00 am

    Is there anything I could use in place of the eggs? I’m allergic! I tried a version of this recipe I saw elsewhere and tried using ground flax+water…it was a disaster! Well, not quite – they still tasted great, but the consistency was akin to brownie BATTER, even after cooking them for 10 mins longer than the recipe said to…unless eaten frozen ;).


  1. 1 Oh She Glows » Blog Archive » Ashley: Sweet and Natural Trackback on June 5, 2009 at 12:11 pm
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