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Black Bean Brownies and Dye-free Green Frosting

Last week my mom made brownies when my girls were at her house.  They LOVED them.  I can't remember the last time I made brownies - seriously it could be years ago.   But I do like to make a good homemade treat for them every once in a while because they just love it so much.  I think they almost like the actual making of it more than they like eating the treat.  

This is the story behind this recipe. My 4 year old has suddenly become extremely picky.   A picky child's 'pickiness' is not a fun behavior to deal with.  We have lots of parents who write to us asking for advice for their picky child.   There are many philosophies, tips and tricks for dealing with a picky child.  In general, I believe that parents shouldn't hide healthy food from their kids disguised by things that they like. I think it is important for kids to learn to eat and like different healthy foods. But I do believe in 'amping' up the nutrition in foods they are going to eat anyway.   So for a St. Patrick's day inspired treat we made these brownies and frosted them with an avocado based frosting - all natural green color with the bonus of added nutrition.  I was really interested to see how my girls would like the brownies - as soon as they saw me making them they were super excited to lick the batter bowl.   Let's just say that acceptance was high - they literally both needed a bath after they were done licking the spatula and bowl.  I should have taken a picture.  

I was kind of worried about how the two recipes would go with each other, but my husband came home and tried a brownie with frosting and said they balance each other perfectly.  In fact, he had no clue there was avocado or black beans in either of them until I told him.

To start your brownies, you will need one 15.5 oz can of black beans - rinsed thoroughly.  You can actually remove a lot of the sodium by rinsing your beans.  If you want to cook your own, then you will need about 2 cups of black beans.  

Place all the beans, and the rest of your ingredients in a high powdered blender (see below for recipe).  A couple of notes here.  If you want a more fudge-like brownie, leave the baking powder out.  If you like a more cake-like brownie, include the baking powder.  If you are going to frost your brownie, then you can use the lower amount of sweetener.  If you are going to eat your brownies plain, you may want to add the higher amount of sweetener.  Make sense?? 

Once it is blended and smooth, pour into a sprayed 8x8 baking pan.  

Bake at 350 for about 25-30 minutes.  If you exclude the baking powder, you may need closer to the 30 minutes.  I baked mine for 26 minutes and they were perfect. 

Slice them up and you can enjoy some chocolaty, warm brownies.  And did I mention they are gluten free?  No flour!  They can definitely stand alone.........but if you like a little frosting with your brownie then read on.  

Personally, I like my chocolate baked goods served with a tall glass of ice cold milk.  We have a friend that will only eat his cake 'Milk-cake' style - or maybe it is 'Cake-milk' style.  Hmmm - can't remember the exact title, but basically he takes a bowl, puts his slice of cake in it, and then covers it in milk and waits a few minutes to eat it until the cake has soaked up the milk.  I just like my milk on the side :)  Have I mentioned ALL of my siblings are lactose intolerant?  I'm holding out - or I guess I should say I'm holding onto my lactase for dear life.  I'm so sorry for those of you with a milk allergy or lactose intolerance. 

To make the frosting, take a ripe avocado and beat it until it is very smooth.  This could take a few minutes.  

To that add your softened butter, vanilla and powdered sugar.  Beat until smooth and creamy.  If it seems to runny, you can add a bit more powdered sugar.  Then frost your brownie (or cake, or cupcake) to your heart's desire.  I would say this frosting would go best with something chocolaty.   

I thought about adding a little peppermint to it and making a Mint Brownie.  But it remained a thought.  So if any of you get brave and try it, let me know.  

Black Bean Brownies and Dye-free Green Frosting


Black Bean Brownies

  • 1 (15.5 ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 Tbsp oil
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp baking powder (for more cake-like brownies)
  • 1/2-3/4 cup sweetener of your choice (honey, sugar, agave, etc)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray an 8x8 square baking dish with cooking spray.
  2. Combine the black beans, eggs, oil, cocoa powder, salt, vanilla extract, sweetener, in a blender; blend until smooth.
  3. Pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish. 
  4. Bake in the preheated oven until the top is dry and the edges start to pull away from the sides of the pan, about 25- 30 minutes.

No-Dye Avocado Frosting

  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 1 tablespoon butter, softened
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups powdered sugar (plus a little more if needed)
  • Pinch salt
  1. Using the whisk attachment for your mixer, beat avocado and butter until combined and no lumps remain.
  2. Beat in vanilla and salt.
  3. Add powdered sugar slowly and mix until combined. Add more powdered sugar to reach desired consistency.  

Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 25-30 mins
Yield 12 brownies
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03/12/2013 9:22am
This sounds AMAZING!! I can't wait to get an avocado and try it out (the only ingredient I'm missing or else I'd be making them today, LOL!).
03/12/2013 1:15pm
Sounds really good. I want to try these. I'm wondering something about the avocado frosting, though. If it's not eaten right away, will it oxidize and get brown and funky tasting the way guacamole or plain fresh avocado does?
03/12/2013 1:24pm
I haven't stored my 'long-term' but it did sit out for about 4 hours and didn't turn brown. If you want to keep it longer, you can just put a little lemon juice in the frosting when you are making it. That should prevent any browning.
03/12/2013 3:38pm
In oven right now!!!
03/12/2013 3:40pm
Natalie, We're making these right now. Did you use unsweetened cocoa? .... Hoping so ... Cause that's what I've got.
03/12/2013 4:33pm
Yep - that is what I used!
03/12/2013 4:18pm
Thank you Thank you! for a black bean brownie recipe that doesn't use a brownie mix. So much healthier!
03/12/2013 7:11pm
For those of us who can't have dairy what could be used in place of the butter in the frosting? Unfortunately my sweet little 4 month old won't allow me to eat dairy right now and I'm craving something sweet!
03/13/2013 9:58am
I would just try leaving the butter out. It will still work out great, just a little different flavor. You may need to add a bit more powdered sugar of a thicker consistency without the butter. Good luck!
03/10/2014 8:24pm
What about coconut oil instead of butter?
03/11/2014 11:12am
Jenny - Coconut oil would probably work great!
03/14/2013 8:48pm
You could use Earth Balance "butter" There are different varieties of "butter", but they're mostly (if not all) vegan. I decorate cakes. My sister is vegan, so I used EB, and the frosting came out beautifully.
03/10/2014 6:17pm
You could also use shortening. That's what we used to use instead of butter when I was growing up, and still now that we have lots of food allergies in the house. Please let us know how it turns out!
03/11/2014 7:00am
Try coconut oil! Should work fine!
03/12/2013 9:30pm
Can't wait to try these. Do you know the nutritional value per serving? Or a rough guess, just curious.
03/13/2013 7:12am
Do I need to refrigerate anything? I am making a double batch and am concerned about leftovers.
03/13/2013 9:58am
Of the frosting or the brownie batter? The batter you will definitely want to refrigerate because there is eggs in it, the frosting should be fine without refrigeration.
03/13/2013 10:35am
Well both. I mean after they are made and frosted, should the remaning brownie be refrigerated. When I make brownies from a box (with eggs), I do not put in fridge. I guess I was more concerned about the beans and the avocados. Since I never use those ingredients in this kind of thing.
03/13/2013 1:01pm
I don't know if my previous response went through or not. I thought I did it a few hours I'm repeating myself possibly. Anyhow, I mean once everything is baked and frosted. Do leftovers need to be in the fridge?
03/13/2013 1:49pm
From a food safety standpoint, once the brownie is baked, it should be fine to be left out with the frosting on it.
03/13/2013 2:42pm
Thanks!!! I made them. They are delicious. I have yet to pull the wool over my son and hubby (they aren't home) however, I fooled my neighbor. She had no idea that beans and avocados were in them. I did add honey & granulated sugar to the brownie batter and honey and cinnamon to the frosting because I felt it tasted very floury (even though there wasn't any in there). I would definitely make these again, assuming my family will eat them.
03/13/2013 7:28am
What is the nutritional value for these?
03/16/2013 8:24pm
I entered the recipe in to my account (since I plan on making this) and here are the nutrition facts for 1/8th of the brownies using 1/2 cup of granulated sugar as the sweetener: Calorie :200 - Total Fat: 7.8g - Sat. Fat 1g - Cholest. - 79.3mg - Sodium 99.5mg - Carb. 26g - Fiber 4.7g - Sugars 12.8g - Protein 7.2g 1/8th of the Avocado Frosting: Calories 170 - Total Fat 5.1g - Sat. Fat 1.4g - Sodium 2.6mg - Carb. 32.1g - Fiber 1.7g - Sugars 29.5g - Protein 0.5g
03/14/2013 7:13am
Made them. They're not bad, they're not good. No one knew the ingredients except for me and I didn't present them as anything "special". 4 year old took one bite and won't take any more. One adult ate one, said they were OK but I don't see her having any more. Hubby thinks they look too weird and is too suspicious to try. I ate a couple and I don't mind them but I'm not going to finish them and probably wouldn't make them again.
03/17/2013 1:46pm
What an awesome idea... we just found that our 4 year old loves kale in his smoothie, says it tastes like chocolate! Will add this one to the menu, thanks.
03/19/2013 8:41pm
Success! Loved these. Will make again. My picky 3 year old is chowing down. Anything I can do to mix up our diet. Thank you!! Next on my list is your cauliflower bread sticks!
03/24/2013 1:33pm
Here is an alternative, use 1 cup of cashews and half cup of sprouted Tofu, add 1- 3/4 cup of dates, use the vanilla extract the beans and some apple sauce instead of the oil & eggs, 1/2 cup of unsweetened cocoa powder, we made a frosting without the beans and, it was awesome...
03/27/2013 8:32pm
Some mixed reviews in the comments here. I haven't tried the brownies yet but I will certainly give them a try, see how they are.
03/28/2013 5:25pm
Not sure what I did wrong, they never set...very runny. I did use flax instead of eggs. Also used coconut nectar for sweetener. I would appreciate any tips.
03/29/2013 12:57pm
Not sure what went wrong, but it probably had something to do with the flax. The eggs do act as a leavener, and so maybe the flax just didn't work as well.
03/10/2014 6:30pm
I have a vegan cupcake book that uses soy milk curdled with a dash of vinegar to replace eggs, maybe that would work here as well?
11/05/2013 12:26pm
For the avocado icing, is it possible to use a blender?
11/05/2013 10:21pm
Yes you can definitely use a blender!
11/11/2013 8:22pm
I just made these on a whim. I was craving chocolate (just started a vegetarian diet 3 days ago) and since I'm trying to eat cleaner, more natural I figured what could it hurt. I didn't LOVE them, but probably because I just have to get used to them but I definitely didn't hate them. They served their purpose, my kids (except 1 with a sensitive palate) and my husband liked them. My husband is not a dessert person so that was surprising. I will make these again, only eating one at a time as a treat but I did omit the icing simply because I didn't have an avocado.
11/19/2013 9:36am
Sounds great! Caution, however: There are people allergic to beans and to avocados. Be sure to ask about allergies before trying to "fool" others with any baked treat. My grandson would have a terrible reaction, and his mom would never to think to ask if there was avocado in the icing, because it is so unexpected!
Sarah W.
03/05/2014 5:59pm
Does the avocado frosting turn brown after some time? Could I add lemon juice to make it not turn brown? Thanks =]
03/06/2014 2:04pm
Mine didn't turn brown. You could add a little lemon juice, but not needed.
03/10/2014 6:31pm
I absolutely must try the avocado frosting, it sounds delicious!
03/10/2014 10:33pm
Can I substitute oil for something else?
03/11/2014 11:12am
You can try - I never have and I am not sure if it would change the consistency too much? It is always fun to experiment with cooking though right??
03/15/2014 12:25am
You can replace oil with melted butter or Apple Sause in most baking I'm sure either would work well in this recipe.
03/11/2014 6:34pm
Made these today and we all really liked them! I added the mint to the frosting and it was great!
03/13/2014 6:24am
Silly question- I can't seem to find black beans in England - maybe it's just me. Any other beans that would do the trick??
03/20/2014 2:14pm
What beans do you have? I have used different varieties of white beans in baking, but I'm not sure how it would turn out in a brownie. It is always worth a try though!
03/20/2014 12:49pm
my daughter is allergic to eggs, can i use flax eggs instead?
03/21/2014 8:56am
I never used those and so I'm not sure how it would turn out in the recipe. Worth a try though! Good luck.
05/15/2014 12:10pm
Love these brownies!! If I want to use Stevia as a sweetner, how much you recommend I use? Thank you!
05/16/2014 8:42am
I would start with about 3 1/2 Tbsp and see if it is sweet enough for you.
06/04/2014 7:54pm
These were fantastic. Used 3/4 c maple syrup as sweetener, did use the baking powder. Made them in cupcake tins baked for 22 mins. No frosting nec. Thanks for the recipe!
06/13/2014 2:30pm
Tried these yesterday. They were great! Even my husband hates beans liked them! They had the same flavor as a brownie...the texture was a bit different though. I put them in the freezer and they were even better! Like fudge bites. Didn't try the frosting...didn't think it was necessary. Would be interested in trying applesauce instead of oil to make a bit healthier. Anyone know the conversion?
06/24/2014 7:49pm
If I use my own cooked beans I assume that I will need to add some extra salt. What do you think? How much more???
06/25/2014 4:59am
I wouldn't use any salt Karen- just keep the recipe the way it is.
07/30/2014 9:00am
I tried the recipe (no frosting and with walnuts). People thought it was just a regular, nothing out of the ordinary brownie. They were shocked when I told them it was black beans! The kids will definitely ge taking this for school lunch. :-)
09/19/2014 10:42am
Thanks for creating and posting this recipe! We're gluten-free and we love brownies. These are my favorite and I've made them often. I included the link in my post today about a Happy & Healthy Movie night as a smart snack option. Thanks, again! If you can, please check out the post:

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