Continuing on my theme of using unexpected ingredients in recipes, I tried black bean chocolate fudge and black bean brownie recipes this weekend (I cooked too many black beans for the first one and had to find something else to make with them!) The results were certainly interesting.
The “rich black bean fudge” recipe was recommended to me by a girl at work after I told her about my chickpea chocolate chip cookies (even though at the time I was actually telling her that I didn’t even think they were that good). The recipe is super easy to make and very straight-forward, except that it uses coconut butter. a) I didn’t know what it was and b) I wasn’t willing to fork out time and money trying to get my hands on some. I think part of it is that the recipe is trying to be vegan and natural, which isn’t a major concern of mine. So the first time I tried the recipe I took the opportunity I’d been waiting for to use up an unwanted tub of Nuttelex we’d had for a while… fail. It was super soft and mousse-y (not the worst problem for a dessert to have but still… I had to keep it in the freezer). I tried again this weekend with ordinary cooking butter and the results were quite impressive!
I think it would be exaggerating to say “it doesn’t taste like black beans at all” but it is actually quite hard to tell unless you know (the slight texture kind of gives it away). It is sweet, chocolate-y and melt-in-your-mouth smooth. Again, I think it would be slightly exaggerating to say “it is healthy”, because if you really wanted a healthy snack you’d be eating carrot sticks with hommus… but hey, if you really want something sweet, you could choose something far more evil than this! (Actually I’m stuffing my face with the stuff as I type this).
Black beans aren’t a very common food ingredient in Australia, but I suspect they might be more common in other places. Lots of American recipes I’ve found online require “1 can of black beans” which is not something you find in the average Australian supermarket. I bought some dried from a specialty grocer and so had to cook them up before making the fudge. The recipe actually suggests you could use lentils, which got my imagination going. Butter beans, cannellini beans, red kidney beans, four bean mix to make up a complete protein… there are lots of options.
So I cooked too many. And I had to get creative because I couldn’t just whip up a double batch as I only had enough butter for one lot. We already had plenty of leftovers in the house, so lunch and the next two nights dinners were all sorted. I had no choice; I had to find another black bean dessert to make!
After a quick Google search I realised just how huge the pool of options is… this whole “information age” thing is kind of overwhelming sometimes (check out this site for proof). How would I ever find the perfect recipe? Deciding to make the black bean fudge was easy because I followed a personal recommendation, but in this case, swimming around in Google, my choices were endless. Every second person is a food blogger these days so how can we know who to trust? My old-school-ish rule of thumb is to trust recipes from books by reputable chefs or brands that are known to test thoroughly. But that never worked all that well in the old-school world anyway… so what can you do when choosing between internet recipes?
My first instinct was to panic a little and start haphazardly constructing a plan to collect every single recipe that looked any good and systematically try them all so I could independently weigh up the pros and cons of each, make an informed decision, and report back to my readers. It would take a lot of time. Dedication. Effort. And why would I kid myself? I don’t even really love “fake-healthy” desserts enough to do it. I had a sudden flashback to my 16-year-old self when I went through a stage of cooking brownies far too regularly. Loitering in the kitchen, unable to drag myself away from the fresh pan… I don’t want that life anymore!
So I snapped out of it and picked a recipe. Any recipe. Probably the third one down on Google. “Vegan gluten free black bean brownies“. After all that debacle (which in reality lasted no longer than 30 seconds), I actually thought twice about sharing it with you because I didn’t love it. I did, however, objectively, think it was pretty good. They were supposed to be brownies but I think they’d sell better if we called them muffins due to their floury texture (of course without any actual flour, of course, for the gluten-phobes). I guess the main reason I didn’t love them is because I’m not really a fan of chocolate muffins. I’m fussy about my textures, but I think many people aren’t.
I decided to be strong and do the right thing; I ate two and gave the others to Dan to hand around at school. Apparently the responses weren’t as positive as they could have been. The rumour was that muffins (“brownies”) got thrown in the bin after one bite. That there was begging involved in the exchange process. Maybe he didn’t exactly sell the concept as well as he could have (read: “should have”).
Or maybe people are just wary of the concept of making muffins (“brownies”) out of beans. So try them at your own risk, I guess.