Well, yes, because I bet you will never believe (until you make them and enjoy them) how utterly delicious a brownie made with black beans, avocado and dates can be…. Be brave.
One of my friends, photographer extraordinaire Darlene McGee, sent me this recipe a couple of years ago when we were in a class called Menu for the Future. The recipe is a classic from Dr. Joel Fuhrman, one of the most popular food, diet and health gurus out there today. If you recall, my friend Leo Sulentic, mushroom grower, is a fan of Dr. Fuhrman, too. Dr. Fuhrman’s use of mushrooms for health is what got Leo started in his ever-growing (pun!) enterprise .
Anyway, with Valentine’s Day just around the corner, I thought this recipe was a great one to share, especially since many people are going vegan, gluten-free or just trying to eat healthier. If you fall into any of these categories, this recipe is for you. It may not be the ultimate chocolate experience of a Southern Living concoction or a featured dish on Martha Bakes, but it is incredibly chocolaty, super moist, sinfully rich and very, VERY, healthy–you can make this part of your breakfast menu (really!) or have one for a energy-charged snack, as well as dessert. It will help you say “Be Mine” with delicious intent.
Let me say this about the Fuhrman recipe, it assumes you have a high-end professional blender such as a Vitamix ®, and, if you do, your recipe prep time will speed up considerably. However, many of us (me included) have only a standard food processor but would still like to prepare this treat for our families. So my recipe below will differ from Dr. Fuhrman’s in terms of preparation steps. I’ll clue you in where as we go along.
If this recipe makes you hungry for more, you can find lots of free information, as well as resources for purchase, at Dr. Fuhrman’s website.
- One 15-ounce can black beans, drained and thoroughly rinsed (This is one of the few instances when I prefer canned beans over dry, made-from-scratch beans. I’ve tried both in this recipe, and I’ve never been able to get the from-scratch beans soft enough. Eden brand cans are BPA free, which is a must for healthy eating from a can.)
- Two to three very ripe bananas, smashed (I use only two small to medium bananas because when I used three after a while in the frig the banana flavor overwhelmed the chocolate, which is not what I wanted.)
- One-half cup ground flaxseeds (Use a coffee grinder to get the flaxseed to meal consistency.)
- One very ripe avocado, peeled and pitted
- One-half cup water (Dr. Fuhrman suggested distilled water. I used tap water.)
- One cup medjool dates, pitted and chopped (Don’t skimp on these; buy high-quality, moist whole dates, not pre-chopped and most likely sugared.)
- Three-quarters cup flour of choice (I suggest gluten-free rice or quinoa flour. Almond meal might also be worth a try.)
- One teaspoon baking soda
- One teaspoon baking powder
- One tablespoon vanilla extract
- One-half cup cocoa powder (Here, too, I have found that quality really matters in order to get that chocolate flavor you are looking for in a brownie. I stand by Rapunzel.)
- One-half cup dark chocolate chips or finely diced dark chocolate (I use Green & Black’s 80% Dark Caca or Trader Joe’s Organic Fair Trade Dark Chocolate Baton, 72% Cacao and grate the chocolate; I find this gives the best chocolate flavor. If you are thinking this will not be sweet enough for you, I suggest increasing the chocolate to three-quarters of a cup and adding a tablespoon or two of high-quality honey.)
- Sea salt (Salt is not an ingredient in the Fuhrman recipe, but i think it adds considerable depth. For me the brownies were bland without at least a half teaspoon.)
- Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
- If you are using a high-end blender such as a Vitamix ® or Blendtec®, place the black beans, avocado, bananas, dates, flaxseed meal, cocoa powder, water and vanilla in the blender and blend until smooth.
- If you have a standard food processor, things will go smoother (pun intended) if you puree some ingredients separately and then puree again to incorporate, as follows. Photos at the end of this post give you an idea of how your ingredients should look at this stage:
- Puree the beans and place in a bowl.
- Puree the avocado, bananas and dates and place in the bowl with the beans.
- Mix the beans, avocado, bananas and dates by hand. Add in the flaxseed meal, cocoa powder and vanilla. Mix well and set aside.
- In a separate large bowl, whisk flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
- Working in two batches, take the pureed mixture back through the processor, adding the water—some to each batch—through the chute. Make sure this mixture is completely combined and smooth.
- Add the pureed mixture to the dry ingredients and thoroughly combine. Mix in the grated dark chocolate. If you wanted, you could add chopped nuts here or maybe some dried cherries.
- Spread the brownie batter onto a parchment-lined glass 13 x 9 baking dish and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the brownies comes out clean.
- Cool before cutting.
The preparation time and cooking time is based on using a standard food processor and includes cooling time.
Got a great Valentine’s Day creation? Love to hear about it. Remember that the most important ingredient on Valentine’s Day–or any day–is LOVE.