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Secret Ingredient Flourless Brownies

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.

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43 comments

Comments

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.

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. ;)

Roberta says …

This recipe caught my eye, because it is flourless. It was easy to prepare and is scrumptious.

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.

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.

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. :)

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!!!!!!

Marcia says …

This is great. I have made the garbanzo bean chocolate cake as well. What can I use to substitute the melted butter?

bgreene says …

Has anyone successfully adapted this recipe to substitue the Sugar with Agave or Stevia?

Isabelle says …

I tried and loved Red Beans Ice Cream, so why not Black Beans in Brownies! :-)

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.

Kristi Hesse says …

Can't wait to try these!

Susan says …

I meant try the Betty Crocker Gluten Free Brownies... so good I forgot to mention 'gluten free'!

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.

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.

gina says …

Yum, great looking recipe, it's going into my recipe stash!

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

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.

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

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.

vdavisson says …

Can you substitute honey in this recipe? Thanks, Whole Foods! You guys rock!

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.

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!

Alissa says …

Chicken enchiladas with rice and beans.

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?

Julie says …

This is a recipe that is common here in the south. It tastes like pecan pie and there are several variations. I am sure some one can make a healthier version. This is from the days before we knew better! Pinto Bean Pie 1 heaping cup mashed pinto beans (Note: 1 1/2 cups cooked beans equals about 1 cup, mashed) 1/2 cup sugar 1 cup brown sugar 1/2 cup butter 2 eggs, beaten 1 9-inch unbaked pie shell Blend sugars, eggs, and butter until creamy. Add the mashed beans and blend thoroughly. Pour into a 9-inch unbaked pie shell. Bake at 375 degrees F for 20 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees F and bake for an additional 25 minutes or until a knife inserted into the pie comes out clean.

Katie Monson says …

Here is my addition for brownies the use pureed beans. I love making these: a) they taste amazing b) I only use a food processor so it's easy to clean up. “ You were so good today, I’m making you Brownies” Brownies 1 ½ cup semisweet chocolate chips 2 cups garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed 4 eggs ½ cup brown rice syrup ¼ cup agave nectar ½ tsp. baking powder ½ tsp. vanilla ¼ tsp. salt 1.Preheat oven to 350 degrees 2.In a small bowl, melt chocolate chips in microwave for about 2 minutes. 3.In a blender or food processor, combine beans and eggs, process until smooth. 4.Add sweeteners, baking powder, vanilla, salt and chocolate, process until smooth. 5.Pour batter into a 9x9” non stick pan. 6.Bake 40-45 minutes.

Rich says …

Sorry, but these were disgusting. Made the recipe to spec. Each bite has a very distinct, well, black bean taste. I was hoping the bean flavor would be disguised better as I've experienced in other recipes. Just make a standard flourless chocolate cake and get some real flavor.

Jayne says …

These brownies were amazing...I have a sweet tooth, but flour and I don't get along. I made these at my parents house while they were out, when they got home they dug into the freshly baked brownies (without knowing the secret ingredient). It was when they went back for seconds that I told them about the black beans! I have been telling many of my clients about these awesome brownies, the love is spreading!

Joyce Raftery says …

Please remake the following recipes: Fettucine Alfredo 1 package fettuccine 1/2 cup butter 2/3 cup sour cream 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese 1 egg yolk Cook pasta and drain. melt butter and remove from heat. Stir in sour cream, Parmesan cheese and egg yolk. Pour sauce over pasta and toss. Makes 6 servings Chicken Divan 4 chicken breasts 2 cans of cream of chicken soup 2 tsp. curry powder 2/3 c mayo 1 head of broccoli 1/2 cup bread crumbs 2 T melted butter Boil chicken breasts. Mix together cream of chicken soup, curry and mayo. Combine sauce with cut up chicken. Steam brocoli and place on bottom of 13X9 glass pan. Top with chicken mixture. Mix bread crumbs with melted butter and sprinkle on top. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes

Kate says …

My boss made these a few weeks ago and they were FANTASTIC! I thought i'd give it a try, and they turned out awful! I didn't have a food processor, which could have possibly been my problem.... Maybe I over-mixed the beans (by hand)? I also added chocolate chips, but the brownies had a very strange (almost burnt) taste. Has anyone else had this problem?

Darla says …

Inspired by this blog post, I made a Black Forest cake using black beans: http://cakedarla.blogspot.com/2010/04/black-forest-cake.html

Holly says …

How would it work to replace the sugar with Stevia? How much liquid or powered Stevia would replace it in this receipe?

says …

@ All - Here are a couple of conversion charts you may find helpful for substituting either Stevia or Truvia in a recipe: http://www.stevia.net/conversion.html and http://www.truvia.com/recipes/conversion-chart/default.aspx

Angie says …

Looking for a recipe for Pumpkin Brownies (no chocolate). I love love love pumpkin, but can't have the flour. So I was hoping to find a white bean replacement, without having a runny mess. Thanks!

Arden Carmody says …

This recipe needs a natural makeover: bread pudding When I make this recipe I use challah bread, eggs, whole milk, and sugar. However is their anyway to use less dairy, eggs and white bread? Bread Pudding: 4 large eggs, plus 1 large egg yolk 3/4 cup sugar 5 cups whole milk 3 TBS bourbon 1 TBS vanilla extract 1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg 1/4 teaspoon salt 12 ounces (about 1/2 loaf) good quality Challah, sliced 3/4 inch thick and cut into 1 1/2 inch cubes (about 8 cups) 1 1/2 TBS unsalted butter, melted plus more for greasing the baking dish. Adjust the oven rack to the lower middle position. Heat to 325 degrees. Butter a 13×9 inch baking dish. Whisk eggs, yolk, sugar in a large bowl to blend well. Whisk in the milk, bourbon, vanilla, nutmeg and salt. Stir in the bread cubes. Mix well to moisten.Let stand 20 min. Pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish. Brush the exposed bread with the melted butter and sprinkle with the cinnamon and sugar. Bake until the pudding turns deep golden brown, is beginning to rise up the sides of the baking dish, and jiggles very slightly at the center when shaken, 45-50 min. Remove from oven and let cool until set but still warm.

Sabine says …

Those brownies do look tasty! I have a recipe that needs a natural makeover! This is an old family favorite cheesecake. We'd all feel better about eating it for my grandma's birthday on Sunday if it was healthier and organic. Here it is: Chocolate Cream Cheese Swirl Cake 1 package devil's food cake mix with pudding 8 oz cream cheese, softened 2 eggs 1/2 cup sugar 1 cup semisweet chocolate pieces Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare devil's food cake batter according to package directions. Grease (or spray) a 9x13 glass baking dish. In a medium mixing bowl, cream together cream cheese, eggs, and sugar. Add chocolate pieces. Pour cake batter into prepared pan. Swirl cream cheese mixture into the batter. Bake for 5 minutes less than indicated on the package. Serves 10-12.

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Bj says …

Can't get the recipe for the flour less brownies( the one made with black beans) to come up. Is it still available?

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@BJ - You bet we still have the recipe! Thanks for catching the broken link. We recently launched a website redesign and I have corrected the link above. You can get to the recipe through the top photo or any of the other links on the page. Enjoy!

Leslie Sexton says …

These are Outrageiously Good! I am not a vegan,or a vegetarian and I am not gluten intolerant. But these are UN-FRIGGIN-BELIEVEABLE!!!

Tom OConnell says …

I am type 2 diabetic & love your plain Brownies, can you tell me how much sugar is in one 4oz bar? They are to die for, but don't want to go overboard eating them. Thank You for your response.

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@TOM - Are you looking for a brownie made in-house? If so, check with your local store as our recipes can differ. If you're looking for a packaged brownie, let me know the brand name and I can try to find the info!