Saturday, 13 August 2011

Spicy black bean brownies

 David Lebovitz wrote recently about a Mexican restaurant in Paris called Candelaria, which among other things, makes a Brownie Epicé Haricot Noirs. This idea of making a brownie out of black beans was intriguing, and when the Dumpling Fiend (who is also a nachos fiend) invited me to her Get Up in That Nacho party, it seemed the perfect occasion to wheel this out.

David mentioned a recipe on the 101 Cookbooks blog as forming the basis of this Candelaria one, and I gleaned that the added epicés were star anise and chili.

60g unsweetened chocolate
230g unsalted butter
2 cups soft-cooked black beans, drained
1 cup walnuts, chopped
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon ground star anise
1.2 teaspoon chilli flakes
¼ cup instant coffee granules
¼ teaspoon salt
4 eggs
1½ cups light agave nectar (I used up all the Trader Joe’s Raw Agave Nectar I’d brought home from the US a few months ago, and made up the rest with brown malt syrup.)

Preheat the oven to 180°F. Line an 11x18-inch slice pan (a large one) with baking paper.

Begin melting the butter in the microwave for a minute before adding the chocolate – a trick I read somewhere recently that ensures the chocolate won’t catch. Stir to melt the chocolate completely.

Place the beans, half the walnuts, the vanilla extract, and a couple of spoonfuls of the melted chocolate mixture into the bowl of a food processor. Blitz for about 2 minutes, or until the batter is thick and the beans smooth – I added a bit more chocolate to loosen things up a bit.

In a large bowl, mix together the remaining 1/2 cup walnuts, remaining melted chocolate mixture, coffee substitute, and salt.

Beat the eggs until light and creamy, about 1 minute. Add the agave nectar, etc. and beat well.

Stir the bean/chocolate mixture into the coffee/chocolate mixture. Add the egg mixture, reserving about 1/2 cup. Mix well. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.

Beat the remaining 1/2 cup egg mixture until light and fluffy, and drizzle it over the brownie batter. Lightly drag a chopstick through the egg mixture, creating a marbled effect.

Bake for about 40 minutes, or until the brownies are set – took about an hour for me. Let cool in the pan, and then refrigerate before cutting into squares – they’re too soft at room temperature to cut neatly, and they’d be messy and gooey when served unless well-refrigerated, so I kept them in the fridge. 

I also liberally sprinkled even more chilli flakes over, for heat and some sorely needed prettiness – these are no handsomer than any other brownie. People were kind about their lack of looks in the party post-midnight gloom, though, and they were found incredibly rich and fudgy, and I won a medal for my efforts. That was a great moment.

 In lieu of the concluding brownie pic I failed to capture, I'll go one better and give you the be-medalled Nachos Fiend bashing the crap out of her piñata with a broom.

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