Black bean brownies with berry brûlée
So it’s time for another crazy, fun recipe – Black bean brownies topped with a thin layer of raspberry flavored crème brûlée – how awesome does that sound?! What, you’re skeptical about the black beans? Don’t be! They make these brownies rich and healthy, and getting your protein in your dessert – it doesn’t get cooler than that!
If you make these, don’t tell anyone about the beans – let them guess! It’s a good time to make a bet with your friends or family members, and be pretty sure that you’ll win! Haha. Apart from tricking loved ones, another great thing about these brownies is that they are gluten free. You might be tempted to skip the coconut sugar and double the amount of agave or maple syrup, but these bad boys are already pretty dense, and adding more liquid is going to make that density even greater. Coconut sugar is my favorite “dry” sugar. It’s got some nutrients (Iron, Zinc, Calcium and Potassium, along with some antioxidants) and it’s got a lower glycemic index rating (almost half that of normal white sugar). It’s still sugar and it’s still sweet, so don’t go crazy just yet, but as far as sugars go, it’s definitely the lesser of many sugary evils.
When I was thinking about the different things I wanted to make for Easter or for spring time in general, I kept having these ideas for colorful dishes. Greens and yellows and pinks. Green is easy, yellow wasn’t too hard either, but pink? Turns out I was able to get some pink or red in each of my last three dishes: the pickled red onions to accompany my deviled (v)eggs, the cauliflower beet patties, and now, these amazing brownies that are topped off with a berry brulee!
The raspberry powder is an optional extra for making the crème brûlée part of these treats, but it does give them a wonderful pinkish color, and the added flavor goes great with the chocolate. I decided to use it partly because I was after a pinkish dessert, but also because I had some lying around after making my raw bars a couple weeks back. Something that I also had leftover was some agar agar powder. When I got the crazy idea to put make this hybrid dessert, I started thinking about how I was going to combine the two, and was worried about having to cook the brownies a second time, with the soy-based cream on top, and then I remembered the agar agar.
Agar agar acts like gelatin to bind and congeal liquids, and well, if it worked for unsweetened cream and plant milk, wouldn’t it do the same for sweet soy based whipping cream? Well it sure did! Again, this took a little experimentation. Using too much agar agar results in a cream with a very odd texture. Next time I’m going to make whole ramikins of crème brûlée, but this rather thin layer felt like a good place to start. I have made this several times, with both coconut sugar and white table sugar, and the coconut sugar works well in the cream itself, giving it a darker color. However, it doesn’t burn very well when used on top. Or well, it actually burns too well, and your brulee will be a very dark brown or even black in spots – so my tip is to stick with good old white sugar on top.
So there you have it – black bean brownies with berry brûlée! Another awesome 100% plant-based treat that will have you and your guests mmm-ing and ahh-ing in-between every creamy and crunchy bite!
Black bean brownies
- 8 oz (ca 225 g) - black beans, after they’ve been rinsed and drained
- 2 Tbsps (30 ml) - raw cacao powder
- ½ cup (1.2 dl) - ground flax seeds
- ¼ cup (.6 dl) - caramel agave (normal agave or maple syrup also works)
- ¼ cup (.6 dl) - coconut sugar
- ¼ cup (.6 dl) - coconut oil
- 2 tsps (10 ml) - vanilla extract
- 1 tsp (5 ml) - baking powder
- ¼ tsp (2.5 ml) - salt
- 1 cup (2.4 dl) - vegan baking chocolate, chopped into small-ish pieces. Non-dairy chocolate chips are fine, but I find they are so much more expensive. Crème brûlée
- 4 fl oz (ca 120ml) - soy-based whipping/heavy cream
- 1 oz (28 g) - coconut sugar
- ca ¼ tsp (2.5 ml) - agar agar powder
- 1 tsp (5 ml) - corn starch
- ½ tsp (2.5 ml) - liquid vanilla extract or 1½ tsp (7.5 ml) - vanilla sugar
- 1 Tbsp (15 ml) – raspberry powder
- a pinch of black salt (kala namak)
- white table sugar, for the top/brulee
- If you have whole flax seeds, make sure to grind them first. After that, just throw all the ingredients (apart from the baking chocolate) into a food processer or blender and mix well. If there are small pieces of beans, don’t worry, they will soften and meld with the whole batter when baked.
- Stir in the chocolate and pour the batter, which is quite thick, into a greased baking pan. I used an 8 x 8 inch pan (20 cm).
- Bake on 350 F (175 C) for about 30 mins. They might even take a little longer. Let them cool a while before you add the brulee on top, and then, once you put the whole creation in the fridge to chill, the brownies will become more solid, even if they are still slightly undercooked at this point.
- Add all the brulee ingredients to a small pot and bring to a boil, stirring frequently. The raspberry powder is optional.
- Remove the cream from the burner and let cool a bit, until it’s about finger warm, and then carefully pour it over the brownies. Chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour.
- Remove from the refrigerator, sprinkle white sugar on top, covering the whole surface with a thin layer, and use a torch to heat the sugar, gently moving the tip of the flame back and forth over the sugar until it melts and starts to bubble. Serve immediately.