When my friend Rebecca comes to stay, I pretend to be a tourist. Together we visit London zoo, art galleries and museums. We wander the streets and admire landmarks, and we also spend a lot of our time on missions to specialist shops and eateries. As Rebecca is, rather stressfully for a keen baker like me, a strict vegan.
I’ve come to utterly love our weekends, not least because our Saturday nights are usually finished off with a cocktail or 2. So when she came to stay this weekend I felt she needed a treat, something to sustain her through our endless tourist ramblings. It was time to take on the challenge of vegan baking.
There was only one place to go for guidance and that was the wonderful blog, Minimalist Baker. Dana features lots of vegan recipes, all tirelessly tested and tweaked, so I knew she’d see me right. And oh boy, did she!
These brownies are everything I could have hoped for. The bean content made me fairly nervous, but as it turns out this is what makes them incredibly moist and fudge.
You won’t taste the beans, I promise, all you’ll taste is glorious chocolate and a sweet swirl of almond butter (or peanut, if you’re going for more of a peanut butter cup vibe).
And what’s more they’re gluten-free making them a perfect treat for the coeliac in your life. It’s rare to find a gluten-free, vegan cake that will satisfy your average dairy eating, wheat munching fella, but this really is it. I don’t think these brownies could disappoint anyone!
Vegan and Gluten-Free Black Bean Brownies with Almond Butter Swirls
Slightly adapted from Minimalist Baker
2 tbsp ground flax seeds
5 tbsp cold water
400g can of black beans (you can also use kidney beans if you can’t find black ones)
3 tbsp olive oil (plus extra for greasing the tin)
3/4 cup good quality cocoa powder
1/4 tsp sea salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup + 2 tsp golden caster sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup natural almond butter (you can use natural peanut butter if you prefer)
2 tbsp icing sugar (I had to use caster sugar as I’d run out, but it was still great)
1/3 cup dairy free dark chocolate chunks
Start by preheating your oven to 175C / 160C Fan / 350F, then grease either a 12 hole muffin tin or an 8inch x 8inch baking tin with olive oil.
Rinse and drain the beans thoroughly, then in a food processor, combine the flax seed and cold water. Pulse the mix a couple of times and leave it for a couple of minutes, so that the water is absorbed a little. Next add in the beans, oil, cocoa powder, salt, vanilla, syrup, sugar, baking powder and soda.
Turn on the processor and leave it for about 3 minutes until the mix is thoroughly pureed. Gently stir in most of the chocolate chips, saving some for the topping. (I forgot this step and only put a few of them on the top, but they tasted great anyway!)
Now either evenly distribute the batter into the muffin tins or spread it out in your baking tin, smoothing the batter down in either case with a spoon.
Mix together the almond butter and icing sugar and put a teaspoon of the mixture into each muffin tin (or blobs randomly on the top of the baking tin). Using a cocktail stick, swirl the 2 mixes together.
Sprinkle over the remaining chocolate and then pop the tin into the oven for 20-26 mins if you’re using muffin tins or 35-45 mins if you’re using the baking tin.
The brownies are done when they appear dry on top, are pulling away from the sides of the tin and they no longer wobble when the tin is shaken.
Let the brownies cool completely in their tin. Use a knife to help you lift each brownie out. Apparently, if they are difficult to remove, you can firm them up in the freezer first.
They can be stored in an airtight tin for a few days. Enjoy!