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Secret Ingredient Flourless Brownies

By Alana Sugar, August 19, 2009  |  Meet the Blogger  |  More Posts by Alana Sugar

Flourless BrownieWith kids heading back to school this month, school activities and fundraisers will start filling up the calendar. J. Leone wrote us with a request for a gluten-free recipe for brownies, always a crowd pleaser at school fundraisers. I love a good food challenge. In addition to making a gluten-free brownie, I wanted to create a version with good protein, healthy carbohydrates and fiber - and, of course, it had to taste delicious!. With many gluten-free baked goods, you'll find starches and flours in the ingredients that have virtually no fiber or protein, so I didn't want to go that route. I needed a secret ingredient instead.365 Black Beans

Here's the part where I tell you what the secret ingredient is and I kind of don't want to because I'm afraid you won't try the recipe! If you were here, I'd say "here, try a brownie" and then listen to you ooohhh and aaahhh about how delicious it is before I tell you what's in it. Here's hoping that you will trust me on this. The secret ingredient in these brownies is: black beans. Check out the full recipe for our delicious, you'd-never-guess-the-secret-ingredient Flourless Brownies.

The brownies are very simple to make and they turn out very moist and dense - almost fudge-like. Make and test your tasters to see if they can name the secret ingredient. While this may sound odd to us, over the years I've actually sampled a number of baked goods from various parts of the world that use beans as a main ingredient. I've tried breads made from navy beans, Asian pastries made with black beans, and desserts and pastries made with tofu (from soybeans). All these ideas inspired me to create this version of Flourless Brownies. When you compare these brownies to more traditional ones, you'll see that ours have fewer calories but more fiber and only 12 grams of sugar per serving versus 21 grams in a traditional brownie. And here's some good news for people watching their carbs: Ours have 17 grams of carbs per serving, compared to 36 grams for the traditional version.

If you like these brownies, try some bean experiments of your own. Maybe white beans baked into cupcakes or muffins or pinto beans baked into chocolate cake? While kitchen experimentation is required, you can start with drained, rinsed, pureed beans in place of flour...start out with 1 can of beans for 1/2 to 3/4 cup flour.

If you have some ideas or tips for using pureed beans in baked goods, I'd love to hear them! Please let us know in the comments below! Did you miss the link for the full recipe? Here is the complete Flourless Brownies recipe. Got a recipe that needs a natural makeover? Post it in the comments section below! If we select your recipe for a healthy makeover and publish the improved version on our website, we'll send you a $25 Whole Foods Market gift card.




gina says ...
Yum, great looking recipe, it's going into my recipe stash!
08/19/2009 8:10:46 AM CDT
Nancy Lea says ...
thanks for the brownie recipe. I have another suggestion for a product for us GF types: "Genius Bread" This is a UK product that is the best GF bread to ever come along. I am already paying premium prices to have some shipped from the UK. PLEASE contact this company about offering it in the US!!!!!!! http://www.geniusglutenfree.com/ thanks, Nancy Lea
08/19/2009 9:32:10 AM CDT
Megan says ...
Ooh, if this could only be healthier! Chicken and white wine sauce over angel hair pasta: 1. Open wine (Sutter Home White Zinfandel). Add one bottle (plus a cup and a half or so, whatever is needed to cover the chicken) to a large pan. Add 2 tbsp. of margarine. 2. Open 2-3 cans of chicken stock, put it in the small pan. Add one boullion cube. 3. Slice up 8 to 10 chicken breasts. (About half to one inch thick slices, doesn't need to be exact, just make sure chicken cooks) 4. Turn white wine on medium; add chicken. (works best if you heat the wine with the chicken in it) 5. Simmer (turn on high, then turn down) cook 12 to 16 minutes. 6. Take off cover, put chicken in big bowl, put wine in 4 cup measure. (depending on how much wine you use, you might need two four cup measures) 7. Dry off pan, put back on turned off burner. 8. Add 6 tbsp. of margarine to pan, let it melt. 9. Using whisk, add ¾ to 1 cup of flour. (you can add more flour for a thicker sauce) 10. Turn on low, whisk flour into butter. Cook until it smells nutty. (1 ½ to 2 min) 11. Pour in wine mixture. Stir till smooth. 12. Add warm chicken stock. 13. Let it come to a bubble, reduce by 1/3. 14. Add 2-3 cups of cream – pour until creamy. 15. Add white pepper and salt. 16. Add chicken, cover.
08/19/2009 11:53:56 AM CDT
Laurel says ...
These sound GREAT! I make a garbanzo bean chocolate cake many times each year. It's nice and moist and freezes well too. These brownies are along the same lines. The gf garbanzo bean chocolate cake is from http://www.killthegluten.blogspot.com
08/19/2009 11:57:05 AM CDT
Raven says ...
I will have to try these brownies, I use Pamela's mix now, but I would like to try some that are flourless. I already use bean flour so I think if I can get it smooth enough, It would be good.
08/19/2009 12:10:52 PM CDT
vdavisson says ...
Can you substitute honey in this recipe? Thanks, Whole Foods! You guys rock!
08/19/2009 12:34:55 PM CDT
Rachel says ...
I would love to see a healthy version of chocolate zucchini cake. While it's a great way to use zucchini from my garden, the zucchini is the only healthy ingredient! Thanks.
08/19/2009 1:01:41 PM CDT
Denise says ...
Yum - I'm looking forward to trying this recipe! Can you please give the recipe below a natural makeover. It is a family favorite, but not the healthiest thing on the block! :) Oatmeal Choc-Chip Bars: 2 sticks butter, softened 1 cup firmly packed brown sugar 1/2 cup granulated sugar 2 eggs 1 teaspoon vanilla 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour 1 teaspoon baking soda 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon 3 cups oats (quick or old fashioned, uncooked) 1 cup mini chocolate chips Heat oven to 350°F. In large bowl, beat butter and sugars until creamy. Add eggs and vanilla; beat well. Add combined flour, baking soda, cinnamon; mix well. Add oats and choc chips; mix well. Press dough onto bottom of ungreased 13 x 9-inch baking pan. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until light golden brown. Thanks! I look forward to the makeover!
08/19/2009 1:21:04 PM CDT
Nicloe Austin says ...
I love this idea. I'm not a baker but this one piques my interest. Plus, I love beans in everything else! Healthy makeover suggestion - Shells & Cheese that can stand up to the gooey yellow boxed goodness of Velveeta (the sort of cheese-like, kinda plastic-like, but not really food substance). We all love it but know that anything with the word "food" at the end has got to be questionable. Pasteurized Processed Cheese Food... there has be be a better answer.
08/19/2009 9:31:21 PM CDT
Susan says ...
I meant try the Betty Crocker Gluten Free Brownies... so good I forgot to mention 'gluten free'!
08/21/2009 9:08:23 AM CDT
Marilyn says ...
These brownies were delicious last night. We are not GF eaters, but we loved them anyway. My son said they were possibly the best brownies he's ever had--not so heavy as regular ones. I still wish they could be more healthy by cutting the butter. What if I substitute some (if not all) the butter with applesauce? Would that work? I suppose then I'd have to use parchment paper to get them out of the pan.
08/21/2009 9:38:05 AM CDT
Shannon says ...
I have had brownies with black beans in them and they are delicious!!!!!!!!!! You can't tell there are beans in the brownies and they come out soooo moist!!!! I fooled everyone!!!!!!
08/21/2009 9:38:05 AM CDT
Marcia says ...
This is great. I have made the garbanzo bean chocolate cake as well. What can I use to substitute the melted butter?
08/21/2009 10:12:26 AM CDT
bgreene says ...
Has anyone successfully adapted this recipe to substitue the Sugar with Agave or Stevia?
08/21/2009 10:28:23 AM CDT
Isabelle says ...
I tried and loved Red Beans Ice Cream, so why not Black Beans in Brownies! :-)
08/21/2009 10:38:57 AM CDT
Thais says ...
Just leaving a quick comment regarding Shells & Cheese: I tried dish that substituted the cheese with butternut squash. Not sure what else went into the it, but it tasted great.
08/21/2009 11:13:31 AM CDT
Kristi Hesse says ...
Can't wait to try these!
08/21/2009 11:34:47 AM CDT
Jennifer says ...
I married into a family that serves their famous "Chocolate Chip Cake" for every special occasion - birthdays, family get-togethers, holidays, etc. Everyone who tastes it asks for the recipe, and yeah, I'll admit, it tastes amazing. The flavor and texture are perfect. But I hate the way it makes me feel about an hour later - like I've eaten a lead brick! I've gotten so sick from it the last few times I've had even a little, I've stopped eating it at all. Now I have 4 children who love it too, and they don't equate the belly aches and intestinal upsets with their cake-consumption. It makes me cringe to allow my kids even a small piece of it because I know exactly what toxic ingredients go into every one. (We eat an entirely HFCS and hydrogenated-oil-free diet) I've tried for the last 14 years to come up with a healthier version, but I haven't been able to replicate the fudgy-dense texture, nor have I found an adequate topping replacement. The whole family has been willing to try my experiments, but everyone agrees that the original is still the "best". Rather than give in and keep the original, or give in and find a new favorite cake, I'd love to find a way to keep the tradition alive and just update it for a healthier future! Here's the original recipe: Chocolate Chip Cake 1 box Betty Crocker or Duncan Hines Chocolate Cake Mix 1 can Chocolate Pudding (Thank You Brand) 1 egg Blend together until smooth (batter will be thick and very stiff) Spread in greased 9x16 baking dish. Sprinkle with 1/2 bag (1.5-2 cups) chocolate chips. Bake at 350 for about 30-45 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in middle (not near chocolate chip) comes out clean. Cool completely, then refrigerate for at least 1 hour, preferably overnight. Top with 1 large (16 oz) container Cool Whip Lite. Refrigerate until serving.
08/21/2009 4:52:40 PM CDT
Amy says ...
I do a different variation of the black bean brownies. I take a package of fat free or super low fat brownie mix. Regular or gluten free. And one can no salt added black beans. Puree the entire can of beans with the liquid in the food processor. Then add that to the dry mix. I also add a little water while mixing it together until it's a thick/smooth consistency. Then spread it in a nonstick pan. bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes. My husband gobbles these up like crazy, not realizing they are full of fiber. I love them. No butter or margarine required. There is also the pumpkin recipe. Same as above, just add one can of pureed pumpkin with water for smoothness. Bake the same as above. When warm out of the oven, it has a pumpkiny flavor. When cooled, it tastes more like brownies. I hear kids love these like crazy. :)
08/22/2009 2:59:28 AM CDT
deborah beasley says ...
I really appreciate this information. I am going to try it right away like today. I eaten bean pies before but never thought of subituting it for flour. I will let you know how my family react.
08/22/2009 7:22:01 AM CDT
melissa says ...
They were very good. I made them with cooked dry beans instead of canned. suggest that if you do this that you use a colander and let them drain for 30 min. Because I did not do this and mine were a little too moist. But very good.
08/23/2009 12:01:25 PM CDT
Ashley says ...
I made these last night, and they were fantastic! The only thing I did different was to use honey instead of sugar, because I don't like to use sugar if I don't have to. This made it really soupy, so I ended up adding just enough coconut flour (gluten-free and really high in fiber and protein) to thicken it up. It was awesome! I'm going to make this for some friends and family and have them try some before I tell them what's in it. ;)
08/24/2009 1:59:25 AM CDT
Roberta says ...
This recipe caught my eye, because it is flourless. It was easy to prepare and is scrumptious.
08/25/2009 11:05:47 PM CDT
Alissa says ...
Chicken enchiladas with rice and beans.
08/27/2009 2:54:23 PM CDT
Lucy Ackerman says ...
I'm gluten intolerant and have found many gluten free alternatives -- but most of them also have sugar and I also must avoid sugar - how about a gluten free recipe with something like agave?
09/01/2009 4:54:10 PM CDT