Brownies. I have been craving them hard. This is unusual for me because, while I love brownies, they aren’t high on my list of things I must have. Cake, yes. Ice cream, for sure. Brownies? Not so much. My body must be experiencing some antioxidant deficiency that can only be appeased by chocolate in brownie form. This is what I’m going with.

I have long lamented the fact that I can’t make a brownie from scratch that’s better the brownies you get from a box. I’ve made decent brownies, but none that’s matched the dense, chocolatey goodness that can be found in a box in the supermarket. I was ready to admit defeat, but I decided to give this recipe a try. The secret is not really a secret anymore: black beans. Brownies are no longer a surprise ingredient in a brownie, perhaps because they give the illusion of a healthier treat and we’re always looking for ways to eat more of things we know we shouldn’t (although, at a ¼ cup for the entire batch you can hardly use this as an excuse to eat the whole pan). Really, what I found is that they lend a moist, dense quality that had been lacking in all other recipes I tried.

Consider me a convert. The purist baker in me, heck, the Mexican in me, would never deign to put beans in a baked treat were it not for the desperate for brownie satisfaction languishing in my soul and this recipe hanging around in my files. Now that I see what they can do, this will be my go to brownie recipe.

Brownies (2)

This recipe is straight from Martha Stewart, because what I wanted was a classic fudgy brownie studded with walnuts, but I have great plans for deviations. The ground cinnamon beckons, ancho and chipotle powder would be wonderful here, espresso powder would be a nice twist, and imagine chopped fresh mint! But for good, old fashioned brownies, stick with the recipe below. It will not disappoint.

¼ cup unsalted butter, plus more for baking pan
¼ cup black beans, rinsed, drained, and pureed until completely smooth*
3 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1 ⅓ cups sugar
2 large eggs, plus 1 large egg white
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly butter a 9-inch square baking pan and make yourself a parchment paper or foil sling. In a large microwave-safe bowl, combine butter, bean puree, and chocolates and microwave in 30-second increments, stirring each time, until melted and smooth, about 2 minutes. Of, if you’re like me and don’t have a microwave (no, really, I don’t), melt the butter in a small saucepan and combine with the beans. Turn off the heat, add the chocolate, and stir occasionally. The heat should be enough to slowly melt the chocolate. Whisk in the sugar, eggs and egg white, and vanilla until smooth.

In a small bowl, combine flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt. Stir into chocolate mixture until just combined. Add walnuts and stir. Pour batter into pan; smooth top. Bake until top is cracked and a toothpick inserted in center has moist crumbs attached, about 25 minutes (center will seem undercooked but will set further as it cools). Let cool completely in pan on a wire rack. Using the parchment or foil sling, lift the brownies from the pan and cut into 16 squares. Eat one every night, two if you’re having problems with self-control.

*I did not worry about pureeing them until completely smooth. There wasn’t enough volume for my food processor to get everything, so I just did the best I could and then mashed them in with the melted butter. It worked out just fine.


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