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July 6, 2012 / Kate

Healthful Vegan Chocolate Brownies

Bonus: Did someone say black beans?

Here are two things you should not tell anyone before they try these brownies:

  1. They are vegan (unless you are giving them to a vegan).
  2. They have an entire can of black beans in them. That’s not a joke.

I find that people (including myself) have a lot of preconceptions about what a “vegan” dessert is (or is not, i.e., tasty) and well, honestly, now that you’ve learned that these have black beans in them you’re probably thinking it’s an interesting gimmick, but you’ll never make them. You’d be missing out if you do though.

Here’s a story about me:
You know how everybody says that spaghetti squash is a “perfect” replacement for spaghetti? Yeah, well, I love spaghetti and make a mean basil marinara, and I thought, why not? Now, I’m not an idiot. I knew it wouldn’t taste exactly like pasta, but I figured it would hit enough similar notes to be a pleasing substitute. It totally didn’t. Not at all. It tasted exactly like squash in neat “spaghetti” strands and I hated it.

But I had baked an entire squash, and it seemed pretty wasteful to toss it, so I shoved it in a tupperware. A couple of nights later I needed some veg to go with my salmon. I thought maybe the squash would be okay as a side instead of the main dish, so I heated it up with some sauce, and, well, I loved it! Absolutely loved it. Once I stopped comparing it to pasta, and appreciated it for what it was, it stopped tasting like some weak substitute.

I’m telling you this because if you expect these brownies to taste exactly like the full fatty, caloric versions we all love, you will be disappointed. Brownies are loaded with butter (or some shortening) and sugar, and are thus absolutely delicious. And terribly unhealthful. But delicious. Now, I certainly have nothing against highly caloric desserts (see entire blog), however, you just can’t eat that way most of the time. You just can’t. I’ve tried many times. So I’m always on the lookout for ways to sort of “get my fix” of the sweet stuff without killing myself.

These brownies hit all the major notes of their full-fat cousins. They’re fudgy, dense, chewy and chocolaty for a fraction of the calories (apparently black beans are a perfect food). I think if you taste them knowing that, you’ll enjoy them as much as I do. Even my eleven year old niece and 7 year old nephew love them. And I swear, you don’t taste the black beans, at all. Promise.


Adapted from Farmgirl Gourmet “Dark Chocolate Stout Brownies”

Yield: 24 brownies (135 calories & 12g sugar per brownie)

1 15 oz can black beans, rinsed and filled with new water
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour or all purpose
1 cup sugar (you can add another 1/2 cup of sugar if you like them sweeter, it adds 15 calories and 4g sugar to each cut brownie)
1 1/2 cup dark cocoa powder
3 tsp instant coffee powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
3/4 cup chopped semisweet chocolate chips, chopped medium/fine, measure before chopping (make sure they have no milk fats if you want vegan brownies)
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp cocoa liquor (or more vanilla)
1 cup of water

Preheat oven to 350°

Drain a can of black beans and rinse thoroughly until the water runs clear. Return the black beans back to the can and fill with water. Puree the beans and water. Set aside.

In a large bowl, mix flour, sugar, cocoa powder, coffee power, salt, baking powder, and chocolate chips. Add the black bean puree, vanilla and water to the dry ingredients and stir just until incorporated. Don’t over mix.

Pour batter into a greased 9×13 pan. Bake for 25-30 minutes, rotating the pan around halfway through. They should be almost firm in the center.

Let brownies cool completely then cut into 24 squares.



Leave a Comment
  1. Cap'n Stephel / Jul 8 2012 10:54 am

    I can attest that black bean brownies are fantastic. I took some to work once and they were a big hit. You can’t taste the black beans unless you’re really trying to find them.
    You should try these too!

  2. Michael / Jul 9 2012 12:37 pm

    These look great. I’ll have to try making them soon. And, bonus points for calling them “healthful”.

  3. Scott / Jul 17 2012 1:24 pm

    These are excellent. What a gem! As you posted, they will give you the fix that the mouth and stomach often crave, and yet the rest of your body won’t pay the price :)

  4. pursuitofhappieness / Jul 17 2012 3:28 pm

    Black beans!? I’m impressed :)

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