Sunday, December 7, 2014

B is for Brownies and Beans...

As I was pondering what to post about today, my mind began drifting to Brownie Day which is tomorrow. “You have posted so many brownie recipes between Brownie Month and Brownie Day” I thought to myself, “how many brownies can one blog audience consume?”


In the world of food days, today is none other than National Cotton Candy Day, why oh why it arrives in the first week of December is beyond me. It seems to me “fairy floss,” as it has been called through the ages, should be celebrated during fair season. Don’t you agree? Here’s another thread of Cotton Candy history. Cotton Candy was first introduced by a Louisiana dentist to his patients! Yes, I said dentist!!!

Originally called “Fairy Floss”, the process of making Cotton Candy was invented by four men: Thomas Patton, Josef Delarose Lascaux, John C. Wharton, and William Morrison. In 1899, Morrison and Wharton were able to patent the first electric cotton candy machine, which used centrifugal force to spin and melt sugar through small holes. In 1904, these two Nashville candy makers introduced their invention of how to make cotton candy to the St. Louis World’s Fair. Due to fair goers’ curiosity, these inventors sold approximately 68,655 boxes of cotton candy for 25 cents a box for a total of $17,163.75. Back then and today this is a great deal of money, just think of the profit that you could make today selling such a low cost and enjoyable product! (What Are You Doing for Cotton Candy Day?)

If you are intrigued by the thought of Cotton Candy Day being celebrated in December, you might want to visit my Cotton Candy Day Pinterest board. Yes, dear visitors, there’s a board for that!!!

Cotton Candy Day

Whew, I’m glad that’s over. I have more pressing matters I would like to share with you today, Brownies! Yes, I’m sticking with the Brownie post but, this brownie post is not like any other brownie post you have ever heard from these lips. This brownie post has a whole other twist.

It all started with Velva. Do you know Velva? She has a delicious blog called Tomatoes On the Vine. Well, I dropped by Velva’s for a bite to eat one day back in November and what to my wondering eyes should appear but an enticing plate of gorgeous looking brownies. I LOVE brownies! Doesn’t everyone? Oh, alright, maybe one or even two people on the planet don’t like brownies but I doubt it, lol…Aren’t brownies one of the most decadent of all comfort foods? They are for me.

I’ve been missing brownies lately. There aren’t very many things I have been missing since drastically changing my eating habits the past five months. (can you believe it has been 5 months since my “episode?”) Anyway, there have been big changes around here. Two of the major changes I’ve successfully made have been absolutely no butter and no eggs! (well yolks anyway:) Now, now, don’t you worry about me, I’ve been eating like a Queen and enjoying every minute. Well, almost every minute. Brownies are one of the exceptions.

You can imagine my delight, when I envisioned the possibility of changing up the recipe Velva posted for Dark Chocolate Black Bean Brownies. Yes, you heard me correctly, Dark Chocolate Black Bean Brownies!!! In the past couple of months, I’ve learned that many recipes can be adapted to fit into my diet of keeping my cholesterol numbers down and up. Down for the “bad” (LDL) cholesterol and up for the “good” cholesterol (HDL) I find it all very confusing actually but, I’m learning:) Bad cholesterol is the kind you don’t want hanging around clogging up arteries and good cholesterol you do want as a scavenger for ushering out that bad stuff.

…Eating beans on a daily basis could help improve cholesterol levels in two different ways. One is by displacing other foods in the diet that may not be as heart healthy…A second way is that beans, lentils and chickpeas are good sources of fiber, plant protein, vitamins and minerals, which may all play a role in lowering cardiovascular disease…A previous study found that a person who switched from a less healthy plan to a heart-healthy diet, which is high in fiber and low in saturated fats, might expect to reduce LDL levels by 5 to 10 percent. If that person also increased legume intake to one serving a day, it could drop LDL cholesterol by another 5 percent. (source)
And this from Prevention Magazine’s 10 Best Cholesterol Lowering Foods:
Beans: The High Fiber Solution Except for your morning wheat bran, no food is more fiber-rich than beans. And beans are especially high in cholesterol-lowering soluble fiber. Eating a cup of any type of beans a day—particularly kidney, navy, pinto, black, chickpea, or butter beans—can lower cholesterol by as much as 10% in 6 weeks.
Soluble fiber forms a gel in water that helps bind acids and cholesterol in the intestinal tract, preventing their re-absorption into the body. This may be why soluble fiber helps to lower cholesterol levels (and decreases the risk of heart disease). Soluble fiber is also found in oats and oat bran, barley, brown rice, beans, apples, carrots, and most other fruits and vegetables.
Chocolate: The Sweet Heart Bonus Want to help your heart the next time you indulge in chocolate candy? Choose the dark or bittersweet kind. Compared to milk chocolate, it has more than three times as many antioxidants. These flavonoid antioxidants work to keep blood platelets from sticking together and may even help keep your arteries unclogged. Milk chocolate is good too, having as much antioxidant power as red wine. And what about white chocolate? Sorry, it has no flavonoids at all. Research shows that about an ounce of chocolate a day increases good cholesterol and prevents bad cholesterol from oxidizing.

Now can you see why the notion of Dark Chocolate Black Bean Brownies was just too intriguing not to give a second thought? Fact is, Velva and I are both kinda late to this Dark Chocolate Black Bean Brownie Party. The earliest recipe I found online was from 2012. Better late than never they say:) While I was checking back for the earliest recipes, I happened upon Kylie’s blog which lists a round-up of various Black Bean Brownies. I found the comments quite encouraging:) There seems to be as many variations for Black Bean Brownies as there are for everyday brownies. Each with its very own personality much like the person baking them:) This girl is no exception. I’ve changed up the recipe I found at Velva’s and if you are feeling creatively adventurous one day, who knows, you might make some changes too. (adding some instant coffee or Kahlúa might be my next venture:) There’s one thing I can tell you for absolutely, positively for sure, the black beans are completely undetectable! I baked two pans; one for Marion and myself and one for Bill and his Mom and Dad. No one was the wiser. (if you decide to experiment on anyone, please remember to rule out food allergies:) Not even Marion! She LOVED them!!! (and she’s a bean eater from way back when:) Just look at this batter:)

Black Bean Brownie Batter

There’s one more thing I have to say about this recipe, it is soooooooo easy! Everything goes in the food processor!!! Easy peasy and oh so good. You won’t believe how good these brownies are. Be warned, this recipe is for those of you who are addicted to ooey, gooey, fudgy brownies.

Dark Chocolate Black Bean Brownies
(adapted from Velva who adapted from Rebecca:)
1 can (15-ounces) Black Beans, drained and rinsed really really well
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips (you could use regular chocolate chips)
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup white sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt (you can use regular salt)
2 large eggs (see note below)
4 tablespoons butter (I didn’t use butter. I used 2 tablespoons of applesauce and 2 tablespoons of Canola Oil) You can use butter of course:)
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 piece of parchment paper
Butter, softened for greasing pan (I didn’t use butter, or anything to grease the parchment paper)
1.  Preheat oven to 350°
2.  Line 8"X 8"X 2" baking pan with parchment paper and grease with butter
3.  Combine Black Beans, chocolate chips, flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, salt, eggs, butter and vanilla extract in bowl of food processor.
4.  Secure food processor lid and blend until mixture is smooth, about 2 minutes.
5.  Spread batter evenly into prepared baking pan, using rubber spatula to scrape batter from bowl.  If desire, sprinkle chocolate chips and walnuts evenly over top.
6.  Bake 30 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center of brownie comes out clean.
7.  Remove pan from oven and allow brownies to cool completely before cutting into squares.

Black Bean Brownie Batter

Note: I sprinkled more chocolate chips and a few walnuts over half the pan because Marion doesn’t care much for walnuts. I didn’t have any problem with it all mixing up in the food processor, even the chips seemed to mash up. I saw some recipes where people used a blender which worked also. If you don’t have a food processor, you might try a blender but it also might change the texture and results. I didn’t use butter in this recipe. I was tempted to try the avocado method I used for the Thumbprint cookies a while back but decided against it. I was quite tempted after seeing Grace’s recipe for Lean Green Applesauce Muffins which she recently posted. She successfully used avocado as a butter substitute. Maybe next time. As for the eggs, I didn’t use any. I considered using 4 egg whites but quite frankly, I wanted to add a bit of orange essence because everyone seems to rave about the marriage of chocolate and orange and it seems I’m late to that party also. So, I substituted one of the tablespoons of water for the mock egg mixture (2 tablespoons of flaxmeal to 6 tablespoons of water) for one tablespoon of fresh squeezed orange juice. I may just use two next time. I liked it!!!)

Baking Tips for Flaxseed

So, how did they turn out??? Indescribably delicious!!!

Happy Brownie Day!

Thank you Velva for inspiring me to try this recipe. It did not disappoint!!!

For those of you who may have missed previous Brownie Day posts, I shared a recipe for this Baked Alaska Brownie amongst other vintage recipes;

Baked Alaska Brownie

And, Chocolate Syrup Brownies from 1974. Enjoy:)

Chocolate Syrup Brownies

1. Good vs. Bad Cholesterol
2. Beans, Lentils: Your Recipe for Lower Cholesterol?
3. A food pyramid made of cookies “Point in space to where you want to create something, and find out what recipes live there.”
4. Fudgy Paelo Beetroot Brownies