August 13, 2010

Bean There, Done That - Healthy And Eggless White Bean Brownies!

No, the “bean” in my post title isn’t a spelling mistake. Yes, I actually made chocolate brownies with white beans! I am thinking that most of you will be going “yuck” at the thought of beans in a brownie. I know I did when I first came across it but please give this brownie a chance. I wouldn’t have posted about it if it had been a total loss.

I don’t really have much of a sweet tooth though I do have a liking for certain sweets and desserts. Brownies are definitely a weakness with me and it is quite possible I love them because they contain chocolate, as blondies do not have the same attraction for me.
I like brownies that are cake-like in texture a bit more than the fudgy variety though I am not too fussy as long it tastes good and chocolaty like a brownie should.

On the flip side, most brownies bring with them an awful lot of fat and calories which we don’t need. So I usually make brownies with cocoa powder and tell myself that I can afford to occasionally indulge in these as the cocoa make it easier to deal with the guilt.

Sometime back, I came across a brownie someone had baked using black beans. While that caught my attention I wasn’t too sure I wanted to be chewing beans in my brownies which would have been better showcased in a soup, curry or some such dish.
I am almost always a sucker for recipes which feature ingredients in an unusual manner.

While looking up brownies made with beans, I came across a study that concluded that pureed cannellini beans can replace as much as 50% of the fat (by weight) in brownies, while yielding an acceptable and more nutritious product.

This one bit of information swung it for me, and I had to try putting beans in my brownie. I came across an eggless bean brownie at The Mad Chemist which looked promising. This particular recipe is also very low in fat as there is no added fat in this recipe except the little that comes from the yogurt, walnuts and chocolate chips.
Yes, this brownie is made without either butter or oil.

I adapted that recipe slightly making changes which I thought would give me a less fudgy (I mean less wet/ moist and more cake-like) brownie as I was a little apprehensive about ending up with a mouthful of mushy beans in the guise of a brownie! I also spiced it up a bit with some chai masala.

I have never seen black beans here, so I used the white beans I had on hand. I soaked the beans overnight, rinsed the beans and pressure cooked them till soft and done. I then measured out 1 1/4 cups of the cooked beans and puréed them.

So how does this bean brownie compare with a regular brownie?
I personally think that after substituting for essential ingredients which make a particular food what it is, expecting the adapted version to taste like the original, is asking for too much.

So while this is not quite your regular kind of brownie, it still is pretty good. It is a bit cake-like in texture and yet fudgy too. No one would know you put beans in it, unless you told them so as you cannot taste the beans in it at all.

These brownies will not replace my regular brownies, but I am definitely going to be making these again. We all liked them though my daughter didn’t think much of them, but then she doesn’t like brownies much. She was rather surprised to hear these brownies had beans in them after she got all three guesses wrong to “Guess what’s in these brownies?”

If you are looking for a very low fat brownies (with a healthy dose of protein) then these brownies are worth trying out. While this recipe does not use eggs, if you would like to add an egg to it, I’m sure the texture of these brownies would be more like those of regular brownies.
I would be happy to hear from any of you, if you try this out.

Eggless And Healthy White Bean Brownies
(adapted from The Mad Chemist)


3/4 cup whole wheat flour

1/3 cup dark cocoa powder

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 cup dark brown sugar*

1 tsp chai masala (optional)

1 1/4 cup cooked white beans

3/4 cup puréed apple** (or unsweetened applesauce)

1/4 cup yogurt

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/4 cup chopped walnuts

1/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips


* These brownies are really not very sweet, so if you would prefer a slightly sweeter version please use 3/4 cup sugar instead of the 1/2 cup mentioned above.

** I don’t usually have applesauce on hand. I cored and then chopped one Fuji apple (with skin) and puréed it in my blender. I put the purée in a strainer and let the juice drain out for about 15 minutes and then used the drained purée to make the brownies.

Using a blender, purée the cook beans till smooth.
Put the puréed beans, whole wheat flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, brown sugar and chai masala in a large and deep bowl. Beat this together, using a hand held mixer, till well blended while scraping down the sides of the bowl a couple of times.

Add the puréed apple (or applesauce), yogurt and vanilla extract and beat again, on medium speed till the batter is well mixed and smooth.
Fold in the walnuts and half the chocolate chips.

Scrape the batter out into a greased and parchment paper lined square cake tin. I used a 7" by 7" tin but an 8" by 8" tin would be better as the brownies would be thinner and cook better.

Smoothen the top and sprinkle the remaining half of chocolate chips on top. Bake at 190C (375F) for 20 to 30 minutes till done.
Allow to cool completely, at room temperature before unmoulding and cutting into squares, or the brownies will be "squishy".

This recipe makes 16 brownies. Serve as they are, with custard sauce, or low fat, eggless ice-cream or ice-cream of your choice.
If not serving immediately, place in a lidded box and refrigerate. I found these brownies tasted better the next day.

Simona is hosting the 26th edition of My Legume Love Affair at Briciole and my “full of beans” brownies are off there.

On an aside, this month Srivalli is hosting Tried & Tasted, a monthly event that showcases food blogs. I am honoured (and very happy) that she has chosen my rather diverse kitchen to be the featured blog for this month.

This means that should you decide to participate in Tried & Tasted, you would be trying out one (or more) of the recipes on this blog. For further details please click on the above link.

I will be more than happy to answer any questions regarding my recipes should you have any. I’m really looking forward to seeing which of my recipes are going to be tried and tasted.


Asha @ FSK said...

hmmmm white beans in cake.. not unusual but interesting.. I wonder if it tastes like Japanese bean desserts! I have to try this one out soon!!

Btw, I love the cocoa decoration in the second photo.. how did you get that?

lata raja said...

Hi Aparna,
I almost mailed you this morning a query about the yo-yo biscuits. But then I remembered you have answer to that already if I scroll down to the end of the page:)
Everything eggless I have been reading and you have added one more to consider.
But it is the everyday cooking that might find its way to Srivallli's event mostly.
Sorry there is not a word on these brownies until now.

Aparna S Mallya said...

Wow, Innovative! If you can add vegetables in sweet dishes, I guess you cud add beans. And if u can add beans, you can add anything!

Prerna@IndianSimmer said...

Wow! Brownies r my weekness too and I don't make them because, well! lets just say its not good for my waist :-)
Would love love love to try your recipe!

Avanika [YumsiliciousBakes] said...

I have to say, I always wondered about using beans. Now that you endorse it, I might try it out one day!

Priya (Yallapantula) Mitharwal said...

whoa !!! brownies using beans, amazing and new :)

Julia @Mélanger said...

I think you are so right. Substituting essential ingredients and expecting the taste to be the same is definitely asking too much. I just trialed some dairy and egg free brownies and found the same thing. But it's fun to experiment, isn't it?

Kamalika said...

Aparna, very innovative brownie and quite healthy to...addition of white beans is new to me...the brownies look too perfect and the snaps along with the presentation are awesome...

Torviewtoronto said...

this looks delicious

sra said...

I saw this late last night and decided I'd have to read it more attentively. When you say white beans, do you mean butter beans? Or is this something you soak overnight? I wonder if they taste a bit like Chinese bean pastries - I've had quite a few of those and they're really not sweet, but very interesting.

Jayasri said...

Lovely brownies, and a healthy version, very interesting!, lovely photography and of course I am going to make this!

Trissa said...

Aparna - this is really the first time I've seen a version of a healthy brownie that looks totally like it's been made by a pastry chef from a top restaurant. Well done - first you've managed to make it healthy and also you've made it look sinful at the same time!

Hari Chandana said...

OMG !!.. Simply Awesome!!

Happy Cook said...

I love brownise too and if it is served with ice cream then one cannot resist. Love the plating.

Happy Cook said...

With white beans that is something new to me too. I never knew we could even use them in baking :-) love the idea though.

Veena said...

Wow, this is amazing - if I went the tried and tasted route, I would probably pick this one! I have a feeling I might know just how you acheived that decoration with the cocoa powder! ;-)

Ambika said...

That is a lovely recipe and a wonderful photo!!! Love the health variations in this one :)

Swathi said...


Bean browines, looks deliicous, however, if we expect the taste like original in remakes with adds on and deletions, it is too much. I have experienced that.

aipi said...

That is definitely innovative..i don't think i have seen a brownie recipe with beans in all my experience, but you got my gonna have to try this out!!
first time got a lovely space with awesome recipe collection n stunning pics..will b visiting often :)

Aparna said...

Never eaten Japanese bean confections Asha, so have no idea.
I think you are asking about the decoration in the first picture. I placed one of my hot mats on the palte and dusted with cocoa powder. :)

I hope you find a recipe you like, Lata.

:), Aparna

Same here, Prerna hence the attempt at this recipe, apart from the curiosity factor.

Can't promise you will love it, but worth trying out, Avanika.

Oh yes, its fun to experiment. I find that if one tries something with an open mind, Julia, one is more likely to enjoy it. Though some experiments are just no good. :)

No they are not butter beans (also called lima/ fava or broad beans), Sra.
These are smaller white beans (that's what the label said) also called navy beans.
They have to be soaked overnight and cooked.
Have no idea about Chinese bean pastries.

Thank you, Trissa for that compliment. :)

I love brownies best on their own, Finla. But i can understand where the ice-cream helps. :)

You should definitely know, Veena. :)

Thank you, Aipi. Welcome to my virtual kitchen. Hope you enjoy browsing around.

shaz said...

Oh how interesting. I love hearing about the more unusual ingredients one can put in brownines, and I've grown up eating red beans in dessert so that part doesn't worry me too much :) They do look very brownie like.

pigpigscorner said...

wow, very interesting! Looks so fudgy!

Tasty Eats At Home said...

You made these look so good! I have made bean brownies before, but yours are even more gorgeous. I definitely should try a version of these again.

Junglefrog said...

interesting twist to regular brownies to ad beans in them! They still look absolutely like brownies and it would be worth trying if it helps reduce in fat (I SOOO need to reduce my fat intake...:))

Srivalli said...

That sure will take some patience! Lataji was saying though I wanted to be tempted with the many delicacies you I am not sure which one to try..will check again..

Jessica said...

These look yummy! I don't do dairy, and I'd rather not use soy yogurt. Any ideas on substitutes for the yogurt?

Aparna said...


I'm also used to eating beans in sweet dishes (Indian), so the idea wasn't unusual but I found it different in a western bake.

Simone, its the same with me. That's why this bean brownie looked even more attractive! :)

Hope you find something, Srivalli.

Jessica, if you do eat eggs you can substitute the yogurt with an egg or two.

Kathryn said...

Those look absolutely incredible! Have you ever tried white chocolate brownies? They're the best!

Simona said...

I have recently used white beans to make crackers, so your recipe is not a total surprise. It is still very interesting for the use of beans in a sweet combination. I bookmarked it. Thanks for participating.

anony said...

Hi! Nice Blog. I had to ask, can you taste the beans?

Last week I tried black-bean cupcakes, pureed the hell out of those beans before adding them into the batter. When I bit into them, I could literally taste the grainy black bean flavor.

So, can you taste ANY hint of bean, cause I'm abit sensitive to thier taste (though I luv em)? Thanks

Aparna said...

Thank you, Anon.
I know what you mean. I love beans but I'd rather not taste them in my desserts. :)
The cocoa effectively masks the taste of the beans though you do get that creamy and slightly different taste in the brownies. But it doesn't "scream" beans. If one didn'tr now there was beans in it, it would be very difficult to tell.