I kinda resisted for a long. Not because I don’t like chocolate. Not because I don’t like beans. Not because I don’t like brownies. Nup. They’re all good. All yummy. All scrummy. But…I just wasn’t sure I could enjoy them all together. Let me give some background.
I lived in Japan. I’m actually a Japanese teacher. And while I got used to the red bean paste inside mochi rice balls and inside sweet bread buns, it was never my sweet treat of choice. It was always a bit of an effort to reconcile the sweet taste with the thick smooth texture of the beans. I remember once there was a great little coffee shop near Hiroshima University in Saijo, where I was studying. It actually sold real espresso – such a treat! One day I got a green looking muffin that was macha flavoured. It had what looked like little choc-bits through it. Or I thought they might be sultanas. Nup. I bit into the cake and….come on! Seriously?!? Sweet beans pretending to be choc-chips?! Aww, such a letdown!
Then there was the bean soup. Sounds yummy, don’t it? Na-ha. In Hiroshima after New Year there is a festival called Tondo Matsuri. Basically people in the community get together and build the mother of all bonfire made from bamboo. It’s an impressive structure and even more impressive when it starts to burn. As each bamboo segment gets hot it explodes. It’s an amazing noise and sight.
While the crazy fire is exploding and burning, we all stood around drinking warmed sake from a bamboo cup and eating roasted mochi cakes. Mmmm, yummy. The other traditional food to be eaten at the festival was the bean soup – zensai. Yeah. SWEET bean soup. Gotta say, not a fan.
As much as I loved living in Japan, the sweet bean thing was something that I came to accept, not love and not my first choice from the coffee shop muffin display. I accepted it in the same way many of my Japanese friends accepted Vegemite. One of those odd cultural loves that only a child of the culture could appreciate.
However, I love ma beans. Love ‘em!!! But I love ‘em in soups, cooked rich tomato sauce on toast, and as dips. I even use them as flours in shortbreads. But the whole cooked bean and mashed up into a brownie was one of those recipes that I wasn’t in a hurry to try.
So come Easter and I’m in my teeny-tiny West Coast kitchen working with the restrictions of Easter shop closures and living a 120km hike from an open shop. But I had beans that I’d been soaking for a big pot of veggie soup. So I thought, “Oh, get over yourself, girlie!” Stop being such a weeny-roast about the bean thing and let’s make them there bean brownie! So I did. I made them with kidney beans – ‘cause that’s what I had on hand. And the brownie was yummy. Really yummy – especially the next day. There was the bean texture there. I could feel it. But the rich bitterness of the chocolate worked really well with it. And the crunchy outer edge of the brownie was really addictive. The Grunkies were fighting over it! Daz took it to work and it was a real hit and not one could recognise the “secret” ingredient! Go the great KIDNEY BEAN!!
Since then I’ve tried other bean varieties to see if all beans are created equal. They are not! Black beans. Yeah, ok. But not as subtle and discrete as the kidney beans. Azuki beans. Ahhh, yeah. No! Too much like the sweet red bean soup I found myself gagging on around the poppy bamboo bonfire.
Anyway, without much ado – here’s the recipe. I highly recommend you give it whirl. It’s super easy – food processor easy! Super yummy. Kids will love out! It’s low fat, low sugar, nut free, dairy free, egg free, gluten free. I’ve made a few “Birdseed” quirks in the recipe. I hope you enjoy it.
BIRDSEED CHOCOLATE BEAN BROWNIE
1½ cups of kidney beans cooked and mashed. (I would highly recommend that you soak your beans first. Makes them so much easier to cook. Don’t be afraid to let them cook until very soft. You can use canned – just select low salt and rinse very well.)
½ cup of freshly roasted sunflower seed meal (OR almond meal or hazelnut meal or pepita meal – whatever takes your fancy)
½ cup amaranth puffs. Just adds a textural difference into the brownie and some lightness.
4 – 5 Tbsp cacao powder
½ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
1 Tbsp vanilla essence
½ maple syrup and/or 7 dates, soaked in boiling water
½ cup EVOO
¼ cup coconut cream or H2O/almond/rice/soya milk
½ tsp vinegar
Heat oven to 170oC
Cooked the beans and drain. Process well in a blender or food processor.
Mix together the sunflower seeds, amaranth puffs cacao, baking powder and salt. Make sure there are no lumps.
Mix the maple syrup, vanilla essence, maple syrup, EVOO, milk and vinegar together.
Add the wet ingredients into the dry along with the smooth bean mash. Mix to combine (don’t overmix).
Pour into prepared tin/s and cook in a moderate oven for around 35 – 45 mins. Once the edges are cooked and pulling away from the sides, you can remove the brownie from the oven.
Allow it to sit until it is completely cool. Best to chill in the fridge to help the brownie set. Enjoy with Birdseed Chocolate Caramel sauce (on the blog).
Let me know what you think. Tweet!