Food Trend: Black Bean Desserts

Copyright cookbookman17, Flickr.com

You know how I’m obsessed with desserts that feature unusual ingredients, like beet cake or beet ice cream? Well, now I’ve gone and taken it a step further. I’m trying to join the craze around black bean desserts.

Never heard of them? You’re probably not alone. I vaguely remember reading something about black bean brownies on Twitter over the summer, but at the time I was obsessed with beets and paid those brownies no mind.

But during a recent visit to my mother’s home, I stumbled across a tiny blurb in one of her issues of Family Circle, claiming that all you had to do to prepare a healthy dessert was puree a can of black beans, add it to a box of brownie mix in lieu of oil and eggs, and then bake according to package directions. No one will be able to tell the difference, the page proclaimed.

Challenge accepted.

I prepared said recipe and happily pulled my brownies from the oven. They looked fudgy and delicious. (Even the unbaked batter tasted chocolatey and not beany at all, I might add.) I allowed them to cool completely in the fridge (most food bloggers said that these brownies were best eaten cold, I think to mask the taste of the beans), then promptly dug in.

Ugh.

The only people who wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between these and regular brownies are those who were previously using glue instead of oil and eggs in their brownies. Seriously, they were dry and gluey and moderately chocolately with a hint of beany.

Not to be one to get discouraged easily, I figured I would do better next time if I found a scratch recipe for a black bean dessert. And so, when I read about a food blog called My New Roots in my latest issue of Bon Appetite and found a recipe for black bean chocolate chili cookies while perusing said blog, I figured this could in no way be wrong. Yesterday, I decided to give them a try.

Bet you'd never guess these cookies were made with black beans instead of flour.

I followed Sara Britton’s recipe using her recommended nonvegan substitutions (in other words, I used butter and eggs). And you know what? They weren’t bad. They would never be a go-to recipe for me, and in fact, I might not make them again at all unless I was invited to some sort of unusual foods party, but they were fun to try and pleasantly tasty. If I do try them again, I might bake them a little longer (I made mine half the size she did, so I cut the baking time by four minutes, but my cookies didn’t turn out crunchy like hers appear in her picture) and see if that makes any difference. I’m not sure I’d ever try what I was calling the “vegan hippie” version, but I was also slightly surprised that I did in fact have every ingredient for that version in my house already. Perhaps I’m a vegan hippie at heart.

What I liked most about them was not that they used black beans. Actually, that ended up being a just a background factor to the cookie. Instead, what stood out to me was all of the cookie’s contrasts (and you know I like foods with contrasts): sweet and salty with the sea salt topping, sweet and savory with the addition of cayenne, and even sweet and sour with the bits of cranberries. It was a surprising discovery for me, and so I think this is an incredibly well-done recipe.

But anyway, back to the topic at hand. Aside from black bean brownies and these cookies, a Google search for “black beans and chocolate” turned up recipes for black bean chocolate cake, black bean chocolate mint cookies, black bean chocolate muffins, and even black bean chocolate truffles. So the food trend is growing, and while I may not be a convert just yet, who knows what sort of intriguing new ideas the future may bring?

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