Friday, 25 January 2008

It shouldn't come from a bean #5

The Scientist gets back tonight, and the pussy cats and I are very pleased. I wanted one final episode in the anti-Scientist food log though (Scientist anti-food? What is an anti-food? I suspect it may be celery). When I came across the recipe below, I almost danced with glee, so fitting was it. So, may I present: [inevitable drum roll]…black bean and banana brownie. The Scientist likes black beans. He likes bananas. But the two of them together, in a supposedly sweet treat? I think not. I think he would regard it as a desecration of the name brownie. He would be veritably discombobulated. I was tickled pink. I was directed to this recipe by Lisa, of Unique Little Bits, who was a fellow guest at Stephanie’s blog party last weekend. She came and had a look at my bagel recipe, and we’ve been exchanging emails, which has been very lovely. When I went to look at her blog I discovered that she was a fellow fan of adventures in low-fat brownie baking. She had tried several variations, in what seems to me like an afternoon of heaven, and had eventually had some success with one which featured black beans and bananas. This combination appealed to me for some reason. I like both main ingredients, and I don’t mind having unexpected things in my baked goods. I also liked the fact that the recipe was the product of an ongoing labour of love. Lisa made a few more suggestions, and also pointed me to another version. I followed as many improvements as I could with what I had in the cupboard. Lisa particularly felt that a non-gluten flour would be an improvement. I didn’t have the oat flour the template recipe called for, but I had oats, so I whizzed them up in the blender and used that. Lisa also suggested using some almond meal. I wasn't sure if this was what we call ground almonds, but I gave them a try. I wasn’t keen on the nuts and coconut in the template , so I went down Lisa’s route and left them out. I wanted my black beans and bananas unadulterated. I did add a little bit of oil, as in the original, and stuck with Lisa's use of cocoa (rather than carob), and her cinnamon. The recipe as I tried it is below

The results? Sort of...weird. Consistency-wise they were good - a decent amount of integrity when cut, and certainly not as goopy as some of the earlier reported prototypes had been. I may have used a greater proportion of beans than the recipe called for though, as I hadn't had any canned beans and had had to approximate a can's worth of dried ones (I used 1/2 cup dried). There is apparently a shortage of black beans at the moment - seriously - the guy in our health food shop told me. This is the first time in my adult life I've really been aware of food shortages and price hikes because of adverse weather and environmental conditions. Bread, flour, petrol, black beans... I sort of feel that we deserve to have to pay more for petrol since higher prices are our own fault, but I'm sad about the implications of why basic foodstuffs are going up. Having spent most of this week preparing for a lecture on the plague in the seventeenth century, the notion of being punished for our own actions seems strangely familiar.

Anyway, the brownies. Consistency notwithstanding, it was the texture and the taste which I found a little odd. I don't think I would have been able to identify either black bean or banana if I hadn't known, but there was a definite 'bean paste' quality to the texture. It wasn't exactly unpleasant, just odd, and I thought they could have done with being a little sweeter. They were, however, lovely and moist, with a dense cocoa-y-ness. I did put one in the fridge and tried it later, and enjoyed it much more. I don't know if it firmed up a bit more, or whether the taste improved for being chilled, or whether I knew what to expect more. Either way, while I might not make them again to this exact recipe, I will happily eat the rest at some stage (they're stashed in the freezer so as not to scare The Scientist). However, I can see why the improvement process becomes so appealing. I am already pondering how to improve my version - definitely lower the bean presence a little, and perhaps up the sugar a wee bit. I couldn't really taste the cinnamon either, so I'd add more of that, too. They definitely weren't exactly a 'snap' to make my way, since the beans needed soaking and cooking, but as usual, I just did it by stages while working at home. And did I mention they're vegan?

So there we go, the finale of my beany week (with thanks to Lisa!). It's been fun trying out some new recipes, and getting free rein in the kitchen. I would let The Scientist have a go for a week in return, but I think I'd just be eating mash every night! In the meantime, I'm making concessions to his tastes: welcome home Scientist.

Black bean and banana brownie (with thanks to Unique Little Bits and Have cake will travel)

1 can black beans, drained (I used 1/2 cup dried, soaked them overnight and then rinsed and boiled for 1 1/2 hours in 1 1/2 cups water)
1 cup banana, mashed (about 2 bananas)
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1/4 cup cocoa
1 tsp vanilla
1/2-3/4 cup raw sugar (I went for the lower end but would try increasing it a bit next time)
1/4 cup oat flour (blizted up oats in my case, which I read was ok)
2 tbsp ground almonds
1 tsp cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 F/ 180 C
Blitz everything together in a processor and put in a greased 8x8 inch pan (I used a regular loaf tin). Bake for 25-30 mins
Allow to cool before cutting
Improves for being refrigerated, and apparently freezes well.

1 comment:

LisaRene said...

Playing with recipes is such fun, I'm glad you enjoy it as well. I find it interesting how many food bloggers get a certain food on their mind and keep experimenting with it. Nice to know I am not alone :)

Organic canned beans are another convenience item we have in the states - every type imaginable and very affordable.

Yes, almond meal is simply finely ground almonds. It's a wonderful ingredient and I use it often in muffins. Using some gluten free ingredients in baked goods gives them an interesting texture that I like.