Saturday, February 25, 2012

Black Bean Brownies

Whenever I eat at Chitpotle, I almost always order the Burrito Bowl. Whenever they ask the inevitable question, "black beans or brown?" I sheepishly shake my head "no" like a five year-old who doesn't want any vegetables on their plate.

I remember one time when a gentleman in front of me answered the question "black beans" and then added, "double the beans please," my heart literally stopped beating in my chest. I turned to look at this clearly crazy man and the disgust on my face could not be camouflaged....I was horrified. I then looked back to the server just as he was heaping on the ugly, ugly black beans........gro-o-o-o-oss!

That is how I feel about black beans.

If you would have told me that someday they would invent a way to hide black beans so
well in food that I would NEVER know they're in there, I would have declared you insane. If you went on to claim that they could successfully hide these beans amidst chocolate brownies, I would have driven you to the funny farm myself. Nutball!

Then about a year ago, I heard a rumor about just this thing. I didn't believe it. But I also couldn't stop thinking about it, daydreaming about it, and wanting to believe it was true. So, I bought the Ghiradelli Double Chocolate Brownie mix (the only food I make from a mix because it's amaaaazing) and I added the black horror, I may add. I baked them in my oven, cut them into perfect squares, photographed them for the blog, brought them to work, shared them with co-workers, absorbed all the rave reviews, and still couldn't bring myself to take one bite. I couldn't do it. I KNEW those ugly beans were in there....tainting Ghiradelli's perfection and I just could NOT make myself eat them.

Don't you love the photo above? That's the photo I took of them. It's been sitting in the archives for over a year now because I can't post something I never tasted. But THEN I finally agreed to a Beans Tasting Party a few weeks ago, which was co-hosted by Carrie and Ann and everything changed. I will of course, be posting about the party at a later time, but THIS could not wait! They made black bean brownies....AND....they made them from scratch....AND... they were flourless and gluten-free. Now was my chance to be brave. I had not poured the beans into the batter, so maybe they weren't in there. (I can lie to myself like that if the cause is great enough.)

Un. Believable!

Even when I closed my eyes and focused ALL my attention on the flavor and texture of the brownie I could not detect any trace of an ugly black bean. They were delicious...absolutely delicious!

Black Bean Brownies

1 (15-ounce) can no-salt-added black beans, drained and rinsed
3 large eggs
1/3 cup melted butter, more for the baking dish
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons cane sugar
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter an 8-inch baking pan. Place the black beans, eggs, melted butter, cocoa powder, salt, vanilla extract and sugar in the bowl of a food processor and blend until smooth. Remove the blade and gently stir in the chocolate chips. Transfer mixture to the prepared pan. Bake the brownies for 30 to 35 minutes, or until just set in the center. Cool before cutting into squares.

NOTE: When you make your brownies they won't look like the ones photographed above. In order to provide an accurate picture of these brownies I would have to make them, and since I gave up sweets for Lent this year, that is impossible. I can't make any dessert without picking, taste-testing, or's just how I'm wired...sorry. But for all of you still indulging in sweets, I didn't want you to have to wait until after Easter, sooooo you're welcome. :)

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Chocolate Heaven Bites


So, after ten months of starving you of food ideas, we're finally sharing a recipe with you. Not only are we going to share with you a sinfully delicious trinket of goodness with this wonderful recipe, we're also going to lead you through a meditation that will amplify your experience of indulging in it.

It has long been thought that mindful awareness greatly enhances the joys of daily life. By being mindfully aware you are completely present in every moment that you find yourself in. It is the practice of indulging in each moment as if it were the most important and only moment that exists.....because it is.

What better time to get lost in a moment than when that moment involves eating chocolate? We're going to lead you through a simple chocolate meditation. As you'll notice in the ingredients listed below, the recipe requires 7 ounces of stellar dark chocolate to make these bites come alive, but in reality you're going to need a few more ounces if you wish to partake in the meditation.

When choosing your chocolate, consider picking a type or brand you've never tried before so the experience will be a new one. Once you've chosen, relax in a comfy chair with your chocolate in hand and settle in for awhile.

Let the Chocolate Meditation begin.....

Open the packet and inhale the aroma. Breathe. it. in.

Break off a piece and take a good look at it. Notice the color, the texture, the grain, etc.

Close your eyes as you pop it in your mouth and see if you can hold it on your tongue as it slowly softens. Notice any changes as it melts. They (super smart people) say that chocolate has over 300 different flavors. Can you sense some of them? If there's 300, you can probably pick up on two or three of them, right? Let's hope. No pressure though....there's no pressure in meditation.

If you notice your mind wandering, observe where it went and then ask yourself, "WHY WOULD YOU GO THERE? WE'RE EATING CHOCOLATE HERE! THIS IS THE ONLY MOMENT THAT EXISTS!" Then come back to the present moment. (Of course we wouldn't scream at ourselves like that. There is no yelling in meditation. If your first instinct is to chastise yourself for straying, rest assured that with practice, you will remain calm when your mind wanders from the melting chocolate.)

After the chocolate has completely melted, swallow it very slowly and intentionally. Let it cascade down your throat.

Did you see Jesus? St. Peter? The pearly gates?

Now come on back to earth.....back to the world of brussel sprouts, beans, and lentils. Take comfort in knowing that chocolate heaven is just a meditation away.

I hope you enjoyed this simple meditation and consider meditating with other foods, and of course, just meditating in general. It's good for the soul.

I like to make these heavenly bites in petite portions because when served, you tease your guests with the exquisite flavor. You save them from overindulging and almost guarantee that they're still dreaming of them long after they have taken their last bite. These min-morsels are meant to be savored and adored.

Chocolate Heaven Bites

One Cup, minus One Tablespoon Unsalted Butter
7 Ounces High-Quality Dark Chocolate
One Cup Sugar
4 Eggs
One Rounded Tablespoon of Flour
Sprinkling of Salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter the sides of an 8-inch cake pan. If using something other than a non-stick pan, you'll want to place a piece of parchment paper on the bottom. I used a silicone min-cupcake pan, so I skipped this whoooooole step. ;)

Melt the butter and chocolate together in a double boiler until melted. Remove from heat and add sugar, stirring until dissolved. Let cool a little. Then add eggs one at a time and mix well with each addition. Slowly stir in flour and salt sprinkling.

Pour batter into prepared cake pan and bake for 25-30 minutes or until center is set OR pour into mini-cupcake pan and bake for 10-15 minutes.

Like all dark chocolate cakes, this is best made the day before served.

I like to serve my minis with a elegant dollop of freshly whipped cream.

I've also made these in teeny tiny ramekins that guests can eat with teeny tiny spoons.....