I can’t believe I haven’t posted in nearly 2 months, but I think I can justify it because I had exams and… I’ve moved to Paris! As part of my university degree I have to spend the third year abroad to “immerse” myself in the “culture” (does a swim in the local pool count?!).
So I’m in Paris for 3 months, then I will be going to teach English in Spain for the academic year (I started Spanish from beginners’ level at uni so I need much more practice with that). I’ve got an internship here, and although I have only been doing it for a week, I am so happy to say I already really love it. Not only is the job itself great, it’s with a French food website so couldn’t really be more perfect for me, the atmosphere (or should I say ambiance) is really sociable and welcoming: everyone eats lunch together, and on Friday after work I was invited for drinks in a local bar to go and watch the Euro.
Food-wise I have mostly been eating pasta this week, although I’ve been trying to cram in as many vegetables as possible as I can’t exactly start looking malnourished when I’m working with a food company! I think I just need to get in the swing of cooking for one, in a tiny kitchen, on a budget and after a long day’s work…
So this recipe is one I did a little while ago and haven’t had time to post before. It comes from Hemsley and Hemsley’s book (I got a free sample with my BBC Good Food subscription, which has now ended ☹). Their ideas are really interesting, and as I loooove brownies, so I thought it might be worth making a healthier version, just to see if they could in any shape or form match what is possibly my favourite thing to bake.
Note: don’t be scared about using black beans, you honestly can’t taste them!!
Here is their original recipe, and below I will tell you the changes I made.
Makes nine to 16
- 2 x 400g tins cooked black beans, drained
- 230g (8oz) unsalted butter
- 4 medium eggs
- 85g (3oz) unsweetened cocoa powder
- 150ml (5fl oz) maple syrup
- 1½ tbsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp coffee extract, or use extra vanilla extract
- 130g (4¾oz) chopped walnuts, soaked and dried as above
Preheat the oven to 170°C/330°F/gas mark 3½.
Rinse the black beans and leave to drain. Melt the butter in a saucepan over a gentle heat, then set it aside.
Place the drained beans, eggs, cocoa powder, maple syrup, vanilla extract and coffee extract (if using) into a food processor with a large pinch of salt. Pulse a few times and then blend until smooth. Add the melted butter, very slowly so as not to cook the eggs, while the machine is running. Taste the batter – add more maple syrup if needs be – then stir in most of the chopped walnuts, reserving a handful.
Grease the inside of a 24 x 20cm (9¾ x 8in) china or glass baking-dish. Pour in the brownie batter and gently tap the baking-dish on to a kitchen counter to even out the batter. Sprinkle the remaining walnuts on top and bake for 40 to 45 minutes, until the brownie feels firm and springy and its surface is cracked.
Allow to cool completely before cutting into squares. Refrigerating the brownies makes them wonderfully fudgy.
I couldn’t find unsweetened cocoa powder anywhere, so I just used Green & Blacks, and I replaced maple syrup (which is surprisingly expensive!!) for honey, which I didn’t need as much of.
In terms of flavour I really enjoyed these brownies. As the recipe says, they actually taste better after being refrigerated, not straight out of the oven. The flavour is darker than normal brownies, and the lower sugar content takes a little getting used to.
This is definitely a recipe to keep, and because the black beans make up the bulk of the recipe, it’s rather inexpensive too, as far as gluten-free/healthy recipes go. When I get the chance to make them again I will try adding some dried fruit, or different nuts, etc. As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, I’m really not normally one for these super healthy recipes, so if I can try it (and like it!), so can you!