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Amazing Black Bean Brownies: good for your heart, make you etc.

Posted in baking, food, recipes with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 10, 2008 by uglydudefood

My last post was a recipe post, I guess. More, it was just a suggestion post. This here is my first post where I actually experimented with ingredients and made foods that did not taste like crunchy water!

I have an ever-increasing backlog of recipes that I kinda-sorta want to try, but will probably never get to. Homemade Marshmallow Peeps. Vegan, fat-free carrot cake. Pumpkin muffins recommended by my friend Silliker. Various veggie burger recipes. They all incite some sort of interest in me, but not enough to send me right to the oven to work the ol’ Spoodles magic.

I was blogrolling on Monday; The moment I saw the phrase “Black Bean Brownies” on 101 Cookbooks, I knew. The words made absolutely no sense to me. I mean, sure. I knew what they all meant individually. Black–an absence of color. Bean–a protein-filled treat that develops in pods. Brownies–chocolatey delights. When you put the three together? The phrase “Black Bean Brownies” sounded like “Cotton Ball Checkbook” or “French Fried Pants.” The words simply did not go together in any decipherable way. I was going to have to create this recipe. Immediately.

Closer inspection of the recipe showed that black beans were not the only experimental item. These brownies were sweetened with agave nectar, a sort of natural, healthier (although, obviously, by no means healthy) corn syrup.

The recipe initially comes from Baking With Agave Nectar: Over 100 Recipes Using Nature’s Ultimate Sweetener, which at $11 is actually close in price to what you’ll pay for damned agave nectar in this one recipe. For the sake of trying new things, I did spring for the organic agave nectar, but 101 Cookbooks says that you can easily replace the nectar 1:1 with honey.

I won’t reprint the recipe here (as I probably don’t have permission), but here are my notes. This was only my third time baking, so I was prepared for it not to go…smoothly.

THE PROCESS

  • The recipe stated that canned black beans worked just fine for this project. I bought canned, no salt added beans, and they seemed to work fine. With the usual, high-sodium canned stuff, you would probably want to spend a good amount of time rinsing the beans.
  • I made the decision not to include the walnuts. My family is fairly picky when it comes to such things, and I thought these brownies were weird enough due to the beans and the sweetener. Didn’t want to rock the boat too much. As mentioned in “Final Thoughts,” this may have affected my final batch.

THE TREAT

  • Inexperienced as I was. I was unsure what the instruction “Bake…until the brownies are set” meant. Did I want them to come out of my oven looking like I wanted my final product to look? Or did I want to take them out a little soft (still solid), and the heat from the baking process would finish it all the way? I checked on my brownies at thirty-five minutes and they seemed a little…shiny. Internet research seemed vague at best, although if I had followed Slashfood’s direction I probably would have fared better. At forty minutes , I removed the pan and hoped for the best.
  • After cooling (and after refrigerating, as specified by this recipe), my brownies were still gooey. Not uncooked-gooey, and not inedible-gooey, but certainly too gooey to cut out of the pan with any confidence. I knew that if I put these things back in the oven after they’d cooled, they would only burn. I was left with some extra-gooey fudgeypuddingbean brownies.
  • That said, these things tasted really good. There was no bean taste to them at all. They tasted like super-decadent, fudge brownies. The coffee flavor was pretty strong, but not bad at all. Even the consistency wasn’t terrible. Certainly softer than I would have liked–and softer than any brownie I’d ever eaten before–but I could pick them up with my hands without them falling apart, so that was good enough.

THE REACTIONS

  • Mom: “Is there coffee in this?” She didn’t seem entirely unimpressed, but didn’t enjoy the flavor all too much. I offered her another the following day, and she accepted. Conclusion: not poison.
  • Dad: “I’m not that adventurous.”
  • Brother: I didn’t even bother asking. He ate a cheeseburger instead.
  • Coworker 1: “I’m impressed!” “This is more like fudge than a brownie.” Later, “I have a brownie craving!” As one of my better friends, she might have been tempered by pressure not to hurt my feelings.
  • Coworker 2: “Those brownies were…interesting.” After some hesitance, she came out and said, “I think I’m so used to [regular sugar] that these just don’t hit my craving.” She also expressed that she liked my previous two baking attempts far better (Toll House Cupcakes and Chocolate Cherry Dr. Pepper Cupcakes). Note to self: less adventurous baked goods for the office. This was actually my favorite bit of feedback, simply because it was actual, constructive criticism. I’ll come back to her because I know she’ll actually tell me how she feels about the food. I’m hoping it will be complimentary, but I know it won’t be needlessly so.

FINAL THOUGHTS

  • I’m wondering if other types of beans would work in this mixture. Black beans seem to be a common Internet trend in this brand of baked goods, but the flavor of a canned black bean tastes fairly similar, for instance, to a canned pinto bean or a canned white bean. This is one thing I would change if I ever made this recipe again, just to learn whether these are acceptable substitutes. Maybe white bean “blondies?”
  • I loved the taste of these brownies, and specifically how the instant coffee offset the chocolate flavor. However, the coffee did tend to come front-and-center. I think the amount of coffee could stand to be cut in half (unless it was used to mask some sort of beany aftertaste that I didn’t sense at all). This would, I think, make my family far more receptive to these brownies.
  • I left the walnuts out of the recipe, and now I’m wondering if they would have helped to bind the mixture and make for a more cohesive and less goopy brownie. I don’t believe nuts actively bind food, but you never know. Since my family didn’t eat more than one of these apiece anyway, I would probably leave the nuts in next time for a more full and textured brownie.
  • I was too much of a wuss to pull a fast one on people. When consumers asked me about the brownies, I came right out and told them they were full of beans and alternative sweetener. It would have been interesting to put these brownies to a blind taste test. Would these just seem like “super-fudgy” brownies, or would people notice something awry?
  • I really like the idea of using beans in a recipe instead of flour. It adds a world of protein and fiber that you aren’t going to get in a regular brownie. This makes them more substantial, more filling, and–dare I say it–more satisfying than a normal baked good in a lot of respects.

NUTRITION (for 1/45th of batch)

via Caloriecount.about.com

Serving Size 30.0g
Amount Per Serving
Calories
98
Calories from Fat
53
% Daily Value*
Total Fat
5.9g
9%
Saturated Fat
3.5g
18%
Cholesterol
30mg
10%
Sodium
11mg
0%
Total Carbohydrates
10.8g
4%
Dietary Fiber
1.1g
4%
Protein
1.6g
Vitamin A 4% Vitamin C 0%
Calcium 3% Iron 7%
* Based on a 2000 calorie diet
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Mike Spoodles’ Old-Timey Hobo Vegetable Soup

Posted in food with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 8, 2008 by uglydudefood

For the past three weeks, I’ve been actually cooking. Homemade vegetable soup, sir. Sure, it’s a meal that requires absolutely no maintenance, but it is fresher than anything you’re going to nuke up in the microwave. In a world drowning in preservatives and sassafrass (the ‘frass is not to be confused with sassafras, which is a fresh oil used to make root beer and ecstasy), you can never have enough fresh, unrefined produce.

My favorite part about my Old-Timey Hobo Vegetable Soup is that it is literally made of whatever you have laying around, assuming that whatever-you-have-laying-around is not your kid brother.

THE BROTH

Hobo Soup at workStewed tomatoes (canned–no salt added). This was a recommendation that initially turned me on to this “recipe” of sorts. You dump a can of stewed tomatoes (113 calories total) into a pot and add two- to four cans-full of water, making a nice, red, tomatoey broth. Any canned tomato will do, really. I accidentally bought diced tomatoes and they seemed to work fine (just fine). Watch out–most canned vegetables are doped up on sodium. Do yourself and your heart a favor. Go low-sodium and season your soup to taste later.

V8 Juice (low sodium, natch). If you’re looking for something with a bit more of a bouquet, V8 100% Vegetable Juice will work in a pinch. The reddish gunk is a mixture of tomatoes, carrots, celery, beets, parsley, lettuce, watercress, and spinach (AND IT TASTES AS GOOD AS IT SOUNDS). As a juice it is probably the most horrid thing known to man. As a broth? Well, it’ll do. Water it down to taste and plunk in your miscellaneous fillings. Tomato juice will also work, although at that point shouldn’t you get the actual tomato goodness of a can of stewed tomatoes?

Vegetable broth. Somehow there is an option even lazier than the previous two options. Available in convenient off-the-shelf can form, vegetable broth is the boiled-down essence of any number of stinky vegetables. You’ll probably fare better, though, making your own vegetable broth if you have the time.

OTHER BROTH ALTERNATIVES: Of course you could make the broth out of just about anything. You could use plain old water and spice it up. If you’re a meat-eater, you could obviously go for the old standby chicken broth.

AND NOW TO THE VEGETABLES

Once again, the sky is the limit here. Whatever you have that is fresh and lingering around your kitchen can go into this pot. As a for-instance, here are the things that went into my soup tonight:

  • 1 red pepper
  • 1 yellow pepper
  • 1 green pepper (my peppers were shriveling)
  • 100g fresh onion
  • 10g garlic
  • 2 beets
  • 3 spears asparagus
  • 30g baby portabello mushrooms
  • 10 radishes

Beets have been a must-have in my soups for the past week. Not only do they add a subtle hint of sweetness (which is sorely lacking in most vegetables), but they will turn your soup blood red. For a less-messy option, you can chop up an apple to offset the veggies with sweetness.

Other favorites of mine include: zucchini, cabbage, carrots, celery, eggplant. You can boil an egg (or an egg white) in the broth as well.

Experiment gone horribly wrong: fresh jalapeo peppers, which are apparently as unappetizing in soup as they are in bulk eating contests.

PREPARATION

After all of the ingredients are tossed into a pot willy-nilly, bring the concoction to a boil. Once your soup has been boiling for several minutes, reduce the heat and cover your pot. Leave covered until you are ready to serve. Everything will get tender. Your veggies and broth will begin to influence each other with their flavors.

This soup can serve one or many. The nutritional value of an entire batch is generally less than 400 calories. With that said, it’s a very filling dish. If you attempt to eat the whole thing in one sitting, your stomach will probably rupture.

I’d strongly recommend this soup if you are looking for a filling, low-calorie, fat-free meal, or just a way to experiment with new and different vegetables. The only thing missing is the stone.