Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Black Bean Dessert?

The New York Times magazine's recipe page had an article about a father's learning how to cook for his son, who seemed to be allergic to everything. The article was about perfect chocolate cupcakes for just about everyone: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/08/magazine/08food-t-000.html (those allergic to flour couldn't enjoy them, for example). I'm unfortunately impatient with allergies, but reading this article reminded me of an old recipe that a friend used to make for black bean brownies. I decided to try them again to serve to D's sister and her husband this weekend. This recipe appeals to me because it uses agave nectar instead of sugar. We like to use agave for all sorts of things: on pancakes with cinnamon and butter as an alternative to syrup, in oatmeal, on granola and yogurt. Agave is a syrup produced in Mexico from an agave cactus: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agave_syrup If you're allergic to flour, or if you just don't want to cook with granulated sugar, these brownies are for you. You have to have people eat them first, then tell them the brownies are made with black beans.

Black Bean Brownies

4 ounces unsweetened chocolate
1 cup unsalted butter
2 cups black beans, cooked
1 cup walnuts, chopped
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
¼ cup instant coffee
¼ teaspoon sea salt
4 large eggs
1½ cups light agave nectar

Preheat the oven to 325°F. Line an 11- by 18-inch baking pan (for thin brownies) or an 8 ½ x 11-inch pan (for thicker brownies) with parchment paper and coat with oil.

Melt the chocolate and butter in a pan. Place the beans, 1/2 cup of the walnuts, the vanilla extract, and a couple of spoonfuls of the melted chocolate mixture into the bowl of a food processor. Blend about 2 minutes, or until smooth. The batter should be thick and the beans smooth. Set aside.

In a large bowl, mix together the remaining 1/2 cup walnuts, remaining melted chocolate mixture, coffee substitute, and salt. Mix well and set aside.

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. Set aside.

Add the bean/chocolate mixture to the coffee/chocolate mixture. Stir until blended well.

Add the egg mixture, reserving about 1/2 cup. Mix well. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Using an electric mixer, beat the remaining 1/2 cup egg mixture until light and fluffy. Drizzle over the brownie batter. Use a wooden toothpick to pull the egg mixture through the batter, creating a marbled effect. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until the brownies are set. Let cool in the pan completely before cutting into squares. It's better if you refrigerate for about an hour before cutting.

I made this batch with the bigger, shallow pan; the next time I make them, I will make thicker brownies. And serve them with vanilla ice cream. Yum.

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