By Savannah Potts, Culinary Nutrition Intern
I am a self-proclaimed chocoholic. When I think about Valentine’s Day, thoughts of truffles, fondue, lava cake, and brownies come to my head. I’ve also been experimenting more with “healthier” sweets lately and ways to add good-for-you nutrients to desserts, which inspired me to try these black bean brownies.
For the chocolate layer of these bars, we are making black bean brownies. However, don’t let the black beans scare you – they are a wonderful way to add fiber, protein, and a feeling of satiety to this recipe! They also create a naturally gluten-free option since they are used in lieu of flour. I personally think that they make the brownies moister and denser than conventional brownies. Of course, box brownies are also an option for these bars if you’re short on time, but I love this version because they are more filling, helping with portion control.
Rather than cream cheese icing, we are using Greek cream cheese lightly sweetened with honey. Greek cream cheese is made with yogurt, and has more protein and less fat than conventional cream cheese.
We are simply going to add some raspberries and honey to a pan and let the chia seeds work their magic for the pink layer. These little chia seeds can absorb 10x their weight in water, making them a perfect option for thickening a quick homemade jam. They are also a good source of anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids, calcium, and fiber. In addition, the raspberries in this simple jam are packed with antioxidants like vitamin C that fight off inflammation.
With a chocolate, cream cheese, and raspberry layer, these bars will look stunning and taste delicious for Valentine’s parties, a romantic dinner at home, or just to have around the house this week or any time of year.
I plan to start out Valentine’s Day with some Chocolate Chia Seed Pudding and finish off with one of these sweets with my sweetie.
Preheat oven to 350˚F. Line an 8x8-inch baking pan with aluminum foil; coat foil with cooking spray.
Combine beans, honey, coconut oil and sugar in a food processor; cover and process until smooth. Add cocoa powder, vanilla extract, baking powder and salt; cover and process until smooth, scraping down sides as needed. Add eggs; cover and process just until blended. Pour batter into prepared baking pan.
Bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted 3 inches from the edge comes out clean. Cool completely while leaving them in the pan.
While brownie layer bakes, prepare raspberry chia jam layer. Combine raspberries and honey in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook 5 to 8 minutes or until the berries are thawed and begin to form a sauce. Remove from heat and stir in chia seeds. Return to heat, and cook 5 minutes, stirring frequently, or until thickened. Set aside to cool.
For the cream cheese layer, combine cream cheese, honey, and vanilla extract in food processor; cover and blend until smooth.
Spread cream cheese mixture over the top of the brownies; then pour the chia jam on top.
Place in the freezer for 1 hour or until you are ready to serve. Slice into small squares.
Each bar has 180 calories, 5 grams of protein and 4.5 grams of fiber.