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Gluten-free Black Bean Brownies

Finally! A black bean brownie that doesn’t suck.

I’d choose a dense, fudgy chocolate brownie over a piece of cake any day. I’d like them to be more than an occasional treat, though – something I can nibble on on a regular basis – and so I’m often tempted by the promise of healthier brownies made with black beans. Although the concept of beans in brownies has been around for awhile, it took the right recipe to convince me that it’s a good idea.

Let me warn you: these are not quite on par with real, dense, fudgy, bakery-style brownies – the kind with the chewy middle and crackling top that my grandma used to make. But for what they are – a big can of black beans providing enough starchiness to give them structure, eliminating the need for flour, sweetened with only 1/2 cup of sugar (about half that of most brownie recipes) and chocolate flavor delivered with cocoa – they are pretty damn tasty. And the boys see them only as brownies, smooth and chocolatey with chips strewn in – so why not? They just arrived home from gymnastics and begged for another. Well, OK.

Black Bean Brownies

adapted from the Whole Foods Market

1 19 oz (540 mL) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1/3 cup butter, melted
1/4 cup cocoa
2 tsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/3 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Place the black beans, sugar, eggs, melted butter, cocoa, vanilla and salt in the bowl of a food processor and blend until smooth, pulsing and scraping down the sides of the bowl to ensure all the beans are completely pureed. Remove the blade and gently stir in the chocolate chips and walnuts. Pour into an 8″x8″ pan that has been sprayed with non-stick spray. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until slightly puffed and set. Cool before cutting into squares.

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