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Fudgy Flourless Brownies with Pecans, Fleur de Sel…and a Secret Ingredient

January 23, 2012

As a rule, I don’t like secrets. I try to avoid lies. I despise deceit. But I’m not opposed to a little culinary trickery. Like that time I made mini apple pies for my grandmother’s birthday…and didn’t divulge to anyone until after they’d eaten a few bites that my secret ingredient was butternut squash. Or when I throw a tiny pitch of chili into chocolate cookies, or some quinoa in a batch of soda bread. It’s fun to play tricks on people’s palates. So I’ll let my friends devour several squares of these chocolatey brownies before I tell them my secret.

In honor of New Year’s resolutions, this month’s We Should Cocoa Challenge had us making something with chocolate that was also health conscious. Whatever that may mean to us. I’d heard tale of these secret ingredient brownies around the web and I’d always wanted to give them a try, my curiosity getting the better of me. This challenge seemed like the perfect excuse.

Okay, I’m going to tell you what’s in these delicious brownies, but you have to promise me something. Promise me you’ll ignore all doubts and bake up a batch and actually try them before you pass your judgement. Okay? Promise? Good.

It’s black beans. Yep. A whole can of black beans is pureed into the batter along with the usual cocoa powder and eggs, sugar, salt, and baking powder, and of course a healthy dose of chocolate chips, a sprinkling of chopped pecans and fleur de sel. As soon as you rinse out that can and stick it in the recycling, you’ll forget those beans are even in there. These brownies smell like chocolate, they taste like chocolate, they’ll cure your chocolate cravings. And they’ll back it up with a little protein and fiber. Sounds good to me!

Flourless Black Bean Brownies

adapted from Whole Foods

Yield: 16 small brownies


  • 1 15-oz can black beans (preferably no salt added), drained and rinsed
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp instant coffee/espresso powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup semisweet or milk chocolate chips
  • 1/3 cup chopped pecans, or other nuts (optional)
  • A few pinches fleur de sel or other fine sea salt (optional)


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease an 8×8-inch square baking pan.
  2. In a food processor or blender, combine the drained beans and remaining ingredients (except chocolate chips, pecans and fleur de sel). Puree until smooth.
  3. Remove the batter to a separate bowl and stir in the chocolate chips. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.
  4. Sprinkle the top with the chopped pecans and fleur de sel (if using). Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out mostly clean, with just a few small crumbs clinging to it, about 30 minutes.
  5. Let cool at least 10 minutes before cutting into squares. Enjoy!

10 Comments leave one →
  1. Edie permalink
    January 23, 2012 5:15 pm

    These look SO good. They look amazingly like the “real” thing! Way to go!

  2. January 23, 2012 8:21 pm

    Reblogged this on booklovershere.

  3. January 24, 2012 10:53 am

    I could imagine making people taste these first. They look great, but I bet beans might raise some eyebrows. Having seen a thousand other good things from you, you could probably say the secret ingredient is dirt and I’d go where’s my fork!

  4. January 25, 2012 9:11 am

    I think FatJoe just became Fater-Joe……just from reading……

  5. January 25, 2012 11:08 am

    Yum! A little chocolate sure would be nice right about now 🙂

  6. January 29, 2012 8:38 am

    Hey, it’s nice to have you back in WSC, I’ve missed your wonderful entries recently. You really do the best photographs. I’ve seen so many black bean brownies over the last couple of months and I really want to try them, but have been unable to source black beans so far – I’ll keep looking! Yours look gorgeous – fudgy and chocolatey – mmmmm!

    • January 29, 2012 9:08 am

      Thanks Choclette! I’ve missed WSC and I’m glad I got an entry in this month! Definitely try to find those black beans- these brownies are delicious! Maybe a different kind of bean would work?


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  2. Flourless Black Bean Brownies | Foods for the Soul

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