Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Insanely Easy Black Bean Brownies by Cleo Coyle

I don't know who invented Black Bean Brownies. I do know that black beans are very nutritious, packed with protein and fiber; and there are countless recipes for Black Bean Brownies in cookbooks and on the Internet. Everyone has a variation. The scratch recipes range from austere to decadent. The former usually employ sugar substitutes, little to no flour, and bananas in place of fat. The more decadent versions use white and/or brown sugars, chopped chocolates, and plenty of butter.

One particular recipe intrigued me because it required only two ingredients. "Take a can of black beans," it directed, "smash the beans up and mix them and their liquid with a box of brownie mix..." 

The recipe promises if you bake these up, you'll get delicious results. Not so much! Let me save you time and money. The 2 ingredient recipe yields a pan of rubbery brownies that my husband and I found inedible. 

So, okay, that recipe was the equivalent of an urban legend. Undaunted, however, I forged ahead, experimenting until I found a brownie mix recipe for Black Bean Brownies that would work, and I did! The recipe I'm sharing with you today produces a nice chocolate brownie with a fudgy texture and flavor.

The acid test for me comes from my husband (and partner in crime writing), who pulls no punches when it comes to my ideas, my writing, or my recipes. (And of course I do the same for him. :)) While the 2-ingredient "urban legend" brownies were thrown in the trash, THESE were eaten right up. "You can't taste the beans!" Marc declared in happy surprise, and reached for seconds.

We both found these babies fudgy, chocolaty, and very tasty, especially with a hot, fresh, cuppa joe. If you make them, we hope you'll enjoy them, too.

Cleo Coyle's
Insanely Easy
Black Bean Brownies

To download a PDF version of this recipe that you can print, save, or share, click here

My Coffeehouse Mystery readers may recognize these brownies from A Brew to a Kill, which makes them a bonus recipe for the book. 

I also plan to blog a from-scratch Black Bean Brownie recipe for you soon. So come on back now, y'hear? :) For today, here's my easy version...

A Brew to a Kill is the latest bestselling title
in my long-running culinary 
mystery series. To view the book's recipe sectionclick here>>>


1 cup of canned black beans,
   low- or no-sodium
1 box of chocolate brownie mix
   (regular or low fat, approx. 19+ ounce size)
1/3 cup water

2 large eggs, lightly beaten with fork
2 tablespoons canola oil 


Step 1 - Prep a 13 x 9-inch baking pan by lining the bottom with parchment paper and lightly coating the sides of the pan and the parchment paper with non-stick cooking spray. 

Step 2 - Drain your canned black beans, wash them well, and drain again. Measure out 1 cup of the black beans and run them through a food processor until they are puréed and completely smooth. 

Pour the bean purée into a mixing bowl. Sift in the brownie mix (to prevent clumping). Add the water, canola oil, and eggs. Mix well but do not over-mix. Most brownie mix recipes suggest 50 strokes with a large spoon, and that's fine. Just be sure that all of the dry mix is completely blended into a smooth batter. (I use a fork to mash any small stubborn clumps against the side of the bowl.) Pour into prepared pan.

Step 3 - Bake in a well preheated oven at 350 degree F. for 25 to 30 minutes. Remove pan from oven, allow brownies to cool before cutting and...

Yes, this is me - Cleo Coyle
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Eat with joy!

~ Cleo Coyle, author of
The Coffeehouse Mysteries

To view the
Coffeehouse Mystery
book trailer, click here.

To get more of my recipes, enter to win
free coffee, or learn about my books, including
my bestselling 
Haunted Bookshop series, visit
my online coffeehouse:

The Coffeehouse Mysteries are national bestselling
works of amateur sleuth fiction set in a landmark
Greenwich Village 
coffeehouse, and each of the
12 titles includes the 
added bonus of recipes. 

The Ghost and
Mrs. McClure

Book #1 of 

The Haunted Bookshop
, which Cleo writes
under the name
Alice Kimberly

To learn more, click here.


  1. Those brownies look wonderful and I can just about smell them (I really need to get working on Smell-O-Vision)! I do have to wonder if I would need to take a handful of Beano tablets before enjoying the brownies! ~~Nurse JudyMac

  2. I've always seen these black bean brownie recipes, been intrigued, and then walked away figuring they were probably "yummy" in that mid-70s spelt-and-raw-milk kind of way. Yummy that isn't really yummy to those of us who have tasted full-fat, white bread, Midwestern fare. But you've convinced me to give them a try. They look positively delicious in the pictures ... and I'd feel a *little* less guilty eating beany brownies. :)

  3. I think I may try this while we are in Ellsworth, Maine next week. With Rooster Brother across the street, a cup of good coffee is a snap!

  4. I have never heard of black bean brownies. I love black beans. They're a staple in my house. I've never thought about baking with them, although I have used garbanzo bean flour before for sweets. What a curious concept. Black bean brownies!

    ~ Krista

  5. I don't know Cleo, this was very brave to try! I love black beans but it seems like it would make more sense to eat them first, then have the good old-fashioned brownies:). Is the idea to get more fiber into your dessert?

    The recipe I really love for brownies is in the big Silver Palate cookbook--it's called Baby Brownies, because you can cut them up into tiny squares and they are so rich, it seems like one's enough.

  6. After trying several of those "Only two ingredients needed" recipes that I find on Pinterest I totally understand the decision to pitch the first batch! We have even had the doggie girls turn their noses up to some of the disastrous results. Your perserverence in perfecting this recipe makes me happy. Mr. Nanc is going to make a batch this weekend and if he loves them (which he will)he is planning on taking them to his company's annual chili cook-off! Each year he laments the lack of dessert so he has been planning to take something. Now per him "I'll win the non-existent dessert cmpetition!"!!

    I love your experiments, keep them up!


  7. This looks so easy! Got to love that.

    I have never tried any of the black bean cakes, but this garbanzo bean cake is my gold standard for chocolate fudgey high protein goodness, especially with a little orange liqueur or instant espresso powder: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/garbanzo-bean-chocolate-cake-gluten-free/.

    Pro tip for working with garbanzo beans in these kind of recipes: soak the beans in very hot water, or even microwave them for thirty seconds or so while they are soaking. This will loosen the skins, so they pop off with minimal effort, and will give your cake (or hummus!) a smoother texture.

  8. Cleo, eggs and water made the different, huh? Amazing isn't it? All chemistry! Sound fun and I'll have to try them with a gluten-free mix to see if that works, as well. Thanks!

    Love the pix.

    Daryl aka Avery

  9. Black beans? I'm there! They actually sound yummy to me - but yes, I can see how the addition of some fat and eggs is necessary to the texture. What brownie mix do you use one? I haven't used a brownie mix since around 1974!