Monday, November 28, 2011

Healthy Double Chocolate Brownies

Once upon a time, I believed that brownies were the best invention in the history of the world. In grade school, I set upon a quest to find the fudgiest, chocolatiest, most delicious brownies ever and learn how to make them. The search led me to my younger brother’s friend’s mom’s brownies. When she heard about how eager I was to acquire her recipe, she gave it to me. But when I made the brownies for myself at home, I knew at once that they weren’t the brownies I had fallen for. I had been dubbed, deceived, deluded, probably at no fault but my own. The brownies in my memory would always taste better because my mind had transformed them into something so delicious that nothing else could compare.

 I’ve since lost that magic recipe and adopted a new one. These brownies are fudgy and rich and chocolate-y, but I’ve never been able to get over the fact that it uses so much butter, eggs, and sugar—no wonder it tastes so good. Every time I make those brownies, I can visualize my arteries clogging up and my teeth rotting away.

Then, one day, my uncle brought brownies when he came to visit. The brownies were moist and pretty good overall, but I noticed that they lacked richness and depth. Also, there was just something that tasted a little bit off about them... When he emailed me the recipe a couple days later, I read the ingredient list and realized that the reason these brownies tasted peculiar was because they were made with apple sauce. The brownies were okay, not the best, but not good enough to inspire me to make them.

I set out a new quest, to make healthy (or at least healthier) brownies that still tasted great. The journey led me to my best friend Jenny’s book shelf, which was lined with various recipe binders and cookbooks. From her collection, I tried a low-fat brownies recipe, which used oil and yogurt instead of butter. The brownies tasted pretty good, but when I tried to replace the white flour with whole-wheat (again in a futile attempt to make healthier brownies), the brownies turned bitter.

I gave up. It seemed that nothing else could measure up to the real, high-far, high sugar brownie. I stopped baking brownies for a while and focused on cookies and pies instead. Then, something happened that would change the way I bake. The school board passed food and beverage policy requiring healthier baked goods to be sold at bake sales. All baked goods had to have 5 grams of fat or less and 2 grams of fibre or more, effective immediately.

At first, I groaned and grumbled with the rest of them. How would we ever fundraise if we couldn't sell baked goods? Cup noodles only went so far—bake sales are the money makers. I worried about how the baking/cooking club would fundraise; I had planned to hold a bake sale the next week. But then I talked to the staff advisor of the Food For Life club, which I am also a part of. (Food For Life is the name of a club at our school which fundraises through bake sales and donated the money to various charities.) I’ve heard many great things about her from my former culinary arts teacher and seen pictures of the gorgeous cupcakes that she had decorated so I couldn't help but regard her with the slightest bit of baker awe. We talked about healthy baking and how many muffins and coffee cakes and bars could be made with apple sauce or low-fat yogurt and mashed bananas and the like.

That conversation really inspired me to make more healthy baked goods. I decided to begin testing recipes right away. The first recipe, of course, had to be these Healthy Double Chocolate Brownies. I found the recipe from the Bake It Up recipe collection, which was purposely designed to comply with the new bake sale policy. After multiple trials and some minor tweaking in ingredients and technique, I developed a brownie recipe I could be proud of.

These brownies are moist and rich and taste pretty darn good, considering how healthy they are. There’s a secret ingredient in these brownies that make them so healthy, but you won’t be able to tell, and neither will a bunch of unassuming high school students.

Click below for the recipe.

The secret ingredient is black soy beans. Honestly, it sounds a bit strange, but the chocolate flavour completely masks the presence of the beans. As long as you puree the beans (or mash them really, really well) there won’t be any texture difference and no one will be the wiser.

I actually made these brownies multiple, multiple times (at least four) and I've found that black soy beans produce a fudgy-er brownie than black beans. Feel free to switch up your beans and try different variations.

In order for these brownies to stay within the guidelines of the new policy, I can’t add anymore chocolate or else there will be too much fat in a single serving. That being said, you can feel free to add chocolate chips or nuts or toffee bits or anything else that suits your fancy.

Healthy Double Chocolate Brownies

Yield: 9x9-inch pan

  • 1½ cups canned black beans, drained, and rinsed (approximately one can)
  • ¼ cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 3 tablespoon canola oil
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 ounces semi sweet chocolate, melted
  • ¾ cup whole-wheat flour
  • ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoons instant coffee
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt


Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Line an 9-inch square metal baking pan with foil or parchment paper, leaving a 2-inch overhang at opposite ends. Lightly spray foil or parchment with non-stick cooking spray.

In a food processor, puree beans, apple sauce, and oil until smooth. Put the bean mixture in a large bowl and with a wooden spoon, beat in eggs, sugar, and vanilla until well blended. Stir in the melted chocolate.
In a medium bowl, combine flour, cocoa powder, instant coffee, baking powder and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix until just combined. Pour batter into prepared pan.

Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until just a few moist crumbs cling to a tester inserted in the centre. Do not over-bake. Let cool in pan on a wire rack. Using foil overhangs as handles, remove from pan and transfer brownies to a cutting board. Cut into squares.


  1. I hear ya, sometimes you need a warm baked good that's healthy!! Your brownies sound fun with black beans in them! I will give them a try! You should also try these sometime - They are Double Chocolate Zucchini Brownies! Whole Wheat flour, olive oil, zucchini, they are delicious!

  2. I've heard great things about bean brownies! Never have I seen these black soybeans used - you rock for doing the test baking! They look super chocolay and fudgy. I bet they will be a big hit!

  3. Very healthy, indeed! Those brownies look divine.



  4. I bake with bananas all the time, but I've never made anything with black beans - sounds great! I can't wait to try these, as brownies ARE the best invention in the world.

  5. I have seen black bean brownies before, but never black soy. Sounds like you have found the perfect healthy brownie!

  6. Wow! I'd have never guessed there were black beans in the brownies :D It's great to make unhealthy recipes the healthier way even though sometimes it's a bit hard. Anyway, your brownies look great and I bet the taste is even better because they are healthy brownies after all :)

  7. way to go- these look great! I love making desserts that are healthier!

  8. Your brownies looks delicious, I am very interested in this healthy recipe and will have to try it for my grand kids, thanks for sharing your recipe and tips;-)


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