Saturday, February 25, 2012

Better-For-You Baking

Do you remember my post about a black bean brownie sometime in July 2011? After the copious amounts of baking brought on by, among other things, the start of this baking blog, I felt the need to "lighten up" some of my creations. I mean let's face it... I'm not going to stop baking, so I have to adapt it so as to ensure a level of healthfulness for myself and my family. Enter the black bean brownie.

The first time I made these, they was devoured within a few hours. I had made a half batch just to test it out, and although these are called brownies, I'd make sure to inform the eager taste testers, especially the grown ups, that they are black bean brownies, a healthy alternative to the real deal. Thankfully, any food item (broccoli, perhaps? I have to give that a try) in the form of dessert is excitedly welcomed by my kids, though I guess some kids would be better off without that candid mention. Although it was a successful swap-out for the caloric heaviness and fatty decadence of an authentic brownie (truly, nothing can replace that), I felt it could use a lititle jazzing-up to add some interest and textural contrast to it.
We all know about those fabulous brownies with cheesecake swirl incorporated, right? Well, what better way to add some pizazz to these otherwise simple black bean brownies? The result, I am happy to report, was an ooey-gooey, creamy, and let's not forget, healthy delight...!
I must admit,  I enjoyed them far better after they had been cooled in the refrigerator. The cold creaminess of the cheesecake swirl hit the spot. I suggest you do the same. :-)

I highly recommend you to try this recipe. I have a massive sweet tooth, and I used the lesser amounts of the sugar in the recipe and it was the right amount for me, but you decide what works for you! It is dessert, after all..!
 This brownie is great if you have kids and want to up their fiber and protein or if you are on a gluten-free diet or are trying to eat less of those evil carbs (as I am)... :-) Quite honestly, you don't have to prescribe to any of the above criteria to try these brownies... They are simply a healthy variation of a dessert classic.

Black Bean Brownies with Peanut Butter Cheesecake Swirl
(Brownie recipe adapted by

For the brownies:
1 15.5 oz can of black beans, well rinsed and drained
3 eggs
2 T canola oil
1/4 c cocoa (I used Hershey's Cocoa Powder)
1/4 t salt
1 t vanilla extract
1/2 to 3/4 c sugar (or sugar substitute), depending on the size of your sweet tooth
1 t baking powder
1/2 t instant coffee or espresso granules
1/4 cup mini chocolate chips

For the swirl:
6 oz cream cheese, softened
1/4 c peanut butter
1/3 to 1/2 c sugar (or sugar substitute), again depending on the size of your sweet tooth
1 t vanilla
1 egg
1/8 t salt
2 T milk

1/4 c mini chocolate chips (optional, but highly recommended)

Prepare an 8"x8" square ban with parchment lining leaving an overhang on two opposite sides of the pan for easy removal of the brownies later. In a blender or food processor, combine all of the ingredients for the brownies. Blend on high until all the ingredients are well combined and the mixture is smooth. Ensure that there are no lumps in the batter. Pour the batter into your prepared 8"x8" square pan.
In a mixer, combine all the cheesecake swirl ingredients and blend until well incorporated and smooth. Drop spoonfuls of the cheesecake batter randomly onto the unbaked brownies. Take a butter knife and swirl to your heart's content. Remember that the more you swirl, the less "swirl" will be apparent in the outcome. Sprinkle 1/4 cup of mini chocolate chips over the top. Bake at 350F for around 35-40 minutes or until the brownies are set. Let them cool in the pan completely. Then remove the brownies from the pan and cut as desired. Store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week.

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