Monday, September 22, 2008

Black Bean Brownies: Bride of Frankenfood

I rejoined Weight Watchers for the 45,000th time recently, to knock off those final 10 pounds that continue to be the bane of my existence. As a repeated on-and-off member, I’m intimately familiar with their online message boards, no doubt one of the best tools for meeting-shy dieters (sorry … lifestyle changers) like myself. Thread frequenters are a supportive crew, and you’ll find no better cheerleaders than those who know exactly what you’re going through.

Occasionally, though, some of their recipe suggestions kind of freak me out. Don’t get me wrong – there’s a cornucopia of excellent-looking meals, made from fresh ingredients and ingeniously altered to take less of a toll on one’s waistline. Yet, ultra-processed creations abound as well, and those frankenfoods permeate the boards like so much, well …

Look, I’m of the mind that “Frito” and “pie” should never appear in the same sentence together, much less on a kitchen table. If that makes me an arugula-chomping, Chardonnay-swilling elitist, I’ll … ooo! There’s wine?

But um, here’s the thing. I NEEDED chocolate last night. Needed. It. I’ve been On Plan the last four weeks, Aunt Dot (bite your tongue) is on her way, and the Mets are in the midst of their annual September chokeathon, meaning it was brownies or death.

In my desperation, I searched the WW boards. Nothing looked quick or appealing enough, until I laid eyes up on IT - the very frankenfood I desired. I was so intrigued by the notion that IT could possibly work, that I had to try IT. I figure, there’ve been 130+ recipes on this blog so far, and only one (Bruschetta Chicken Bake) has used any kind of pre-made, Sandra Lee-esque mix, so I’m allowed.

What was IT? Black Bean Brownies.

“Black bean … brownies?” you might ask. “What, did you just choose two random foods and smush them together? Like some kind of crazy culinary portmanteau?”

And I’d answer, “Stop the hate! Seriously, this works. I ate two and served the rest to four friends. They thought it was just a really fudgy brownie. They couldn’t tell the difference.”

Essentially, you puree a can of black beans, stir it up with some brownie mix and *poof* it’s a 9x13 pan of decidedly un-sinful fudginess. Admittedly, they’ll never be confused with Barefoot Contessa’s chocolatey piles of goodness, but they’re 136 CALORIES A SERVING. FOR FREAKIN' BROWNIES. And that my friends, can not be beaten.

I promise we’ll get back to real meals on Friday, but the in the meantime, if you’re craving a cocoa fix … this ain’t so bad. Frankenfood or no.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to make a Frito Pie.

Black Bean Brownies
Makes 20 brownies
Adapted from the Weight Watchers message boards.

1 box brownie mix (I used Duncan Hines)
1 14- to 15-ounce can black beans

1) Drain and rinse beans. Pour them back into the can. Add water to can until it's filled to the brim. Pour contents of can into a blender. PUREE THE CRAP OUT OF IT. There should be no graininess, or too-visible brown specks.

2) In a medium bowl, combine bean mixture with brownie mix. Follow the rest of the cooking directions as you read them on the package.

Approximate Calories, Fat, and Price Per Serving
136 calories, 2.6 g fat, 1 g fiber, $0.14

Duncan Hines Brownie Mix: 2400 calories, 50 g fat, $2.39
1 can black beans: 315 calories, 1.75 g fat, $0.50
TOTAL: 2715 calories, 52 g fat, $2.80
PER SERVING (TOTAL/20): 136 calories, 2.6 g fat, $0.14

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hthr said...

This sounds strange, but it could be great. I will give it a try. Thanks for the recipe!

Celeste said...

I'm a WW lifetime member myself and I remember the first time I heard of these black bean brownies I was pretty freaked out myself. But... I tried them and I love them! They are chewy, moist, chocolately goodness! And you can use any brownie mix you want--I love turtle myself. I think the texture is much better than if you followed the directions on the box. One final note, if you have a food processor for the beans, it's a little easier than using a blender :)

Have you heard about the fiber one crusted onion rings? I think I'll pass on that experiment!

Liz C said...

Here's a recipe for making them from scratch:
Amazing Black Bean Brownies from 101 Cookbooks

I haven't tried them but they're on my list.

Valerie said...

I'm laughing, great post!

I've made both the 101cookbooks black bean brownies and the package + can 'o beans brownies. I much prefer the latter, not to mention they're way easier.

And actually, I think I prefer the taste of the brownies made with black beans. You don't taste the bean flavor at all, but they had a little depth of complexity to the chocolate flavor.

I also figure the protein that the beans bring to the dish make the brownies easier on your blood sugar levels too.

Anonymous said...

My sister swears by a similar recipe that uses a can of pumpkin puree instead of the black beans.

MCM Voices said...

Those sound wonderful! I have a recipe for chocolate cake made with garbanzo beans that's terrific & so am predisposed to like the legume/chocolate pairing. Thanks for this post!

Kitschen Bitsch said...

I did not think anyone would beat my 17 cent black bean brownies, but you completely did. I had a hard time getting mine to look like regular brownies (the hideous picture is up on my blog). Welcome to the creepy brownie-making fold.

Stephanie said...

Sheer genius. I tried lentil cake once and it was so moist and chocolatey, it was great! So I'm thinking that black bean brownies sound absolutely delicious. And easy too? What a great recipe. :-)

cherie said...

LOL this has been on my 'to try' list
I must say that the pumpkin puree chocolate cake mix combo isn't bad - it sells well to my girls - my son won't eat it - I can eat it but it's not my fave

We did prune puree [baby food basically] to sub for oil in brownie mix last weekend - I don'tlike the applesauce smell when you use that - and it was great - no smell, just fudgier than usual [and that's bad . . . how?]

Garbanzo beans and chocolate cake mix? Must hear more about that one

MCM Voices said...

OK - Weight Watchers it ain't - but here it is:

1 15-oz can garbanzos, rinsed & drained
6 oz chocolate chips, melted
1 cups sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder
4 eggs
1 tsp vanilla

Throw everything into a food processor and blend until smooth. Pour batter into a greased & sugared 9 inch square pan and bake at 350 F for 40 minutes. Top with heated, seedless raspberry jam or fresh or frozen raspberries.

MCM Voices said...

Eeek - I forgot to list an ingredient for the chick pea chocolate cake - 1/4 cup cocoa.

Anjanette said...

I made these and blogged about them. :)

Feed the moose said...

I am totally pumped about this recipe and can't wait to try them! If I blog about them I'll let you know.

Rapunzel said...

I'm so glad to have stumbled across your blog and find this tasty recipe! I'll be making them tonight, posted a link to your blog on mine.

chickadeebeads said...

Mmm will have to try them! Thanks for sharing!

Elizabeth Jarrard said...

I must not have pureed these enough, because i was really not pleased with the outcome. chickpea blondies are much much better!!!!

Dazy said...

I was looking for something creative like this. Then tried this awesome recipe. This recipe does not disappoint. It's a snap to prepare and really tasty.

Kristin said...

So I took a quote from your post about how fritos and pie shouldn't be in the same sentence let alone on the kitchen table and showed it to a couple friends since I'm very much of the same opinion. Just to get my goat, one of them found a recipe for frito pie and will be making it for dinner this week. Groooooooossssssss.

Shannon said...

Not to be a complete idiot, but do you put the other ingredients (oil, water, eggs) in there, too? Or just the beans? When you said "follow the cooking directions", I wasn't sure. Thanks!

Kris said...

Shannon, you leave out the eggs and oil. The pureed brownies should be the only added moist ingredients. Best of luck!

Charlie said...

So, just the powdered brownie mix and black beans--nothing else?
Honestly though- are they as satisfying as the "real thing" or can you tell the difference? I want to make them on the sly and not tell my husband what's in them-but I'm worried he'll instantly tell they're 'off'.

Kris said...

Hi Charlie - they fooled my friends, who had no idea. The only thing is that those beans have to be pureed totally, 100% smooth, or the consistency is a dead giveaway.

alternakiddy said...

After reading this I knew I had to try it. I love brownies AND beans! My pan was a little larger than it should have been, making almost brownie cookies, but they're still really good! Surprised nonetheless, but also mightily impressed! Now time for a nice cold glass of milk!

Anonymous said...

Just tried the brownies (black bean style) and they are great and chewy. I love brownies under baked so these met my need.

Amy said...

I've made them and discovered that they are even better the next day! make sure you leave some after they come out.

plus the frito(?) pie sounded odd until i looked it up. its a corn chip casserole where i come from. split the chips in half, 1st half in the dish with the veggies and/or mince and the second half on top. makes a nice contrast in textures.

Catherine said...

Loving these so much! I added a tablespoon of instant coffee AND in frankenfood style...a half a cup of fresh blueberries. Really tasty and an amazing way to have an on-plan treat. Yum-o-rific!!

Jennifer said...

I heard about these from a friend. I used the food processor and pureed the black beans to death. My husband looked at me like I was crazy when I said I was going to make them. My kids ate the batter, they had no idea there were black beans in it. These taste really good; fudgey texture not cakey. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Incredibly good. When people say you can't taste the beans, it means AT ALL. I was standing there licking the batter off the fork, it was so good. And then I had two brownies. Wow.
I seriously need to remember to save some of these for my fiance. They might not last the hour til he gets home.

Anonymous said...

Make sure to add the water to the can of beans after you drain and rinse. I forgot that part and, while they're edible, I needed to ice them as they are the consistency of dense, REALLY dry cake