Apparently these have been popular in the food world for about a year... but I first saw them last week. My oldest son, the pickiest eater in the house, had noticed the printed recipe sitting on the counter for several days, grimacing everytime he walked past it. So when a batch of brownies appeared out of the oven, he cocked an eyebrow at me, asking "Are these what I think they are?", then declared he would NOT eat them.
After everyone else begged for seconds, though, he decided he'd try just one bite. Then a whole brownie. Then he had seconds too.
(YEAH!)Black Bean Brownies
1 1/4 c. cooked black beans, rinsed (about a 15-oz can or 1/2 c. dry beans- cook first)
1/4 c. melted coconut oil or vegetable oil
1/2- 2/3 cup honey OR 3/4-1 cup sugar (brownies with the higher amounts are sweeter and more moist)
½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp. vanilla extract
½ cup whole wheat flour, OR 1/2 c.gluten-free flour plus 1 tsp. xanthan gum
½ teaspoon almond extract or orange extract, optional
½ teaspoon baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
½ cup chopped walnuts, optional
¼ cup semisweet chocolate chips, optional
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter or spray a 9x13 pan. Combine beans, eggs, oil, sugar, cocoa powder, vanilla, and almond/orange extract (if using) in a food processor or blender. Puree until very smooth. In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt. Pour the puree over top, then mix both together. Stir in walnuts if using. Sprinkle chocolate chips on top. Bake about 25 minutes or until center tests done with a toothpick.
To make these into Chocolate Truffle Brownies, omit the chocolate chips and frost with my favorite-ever chocolate frosting: creamy, soft, oh-so-smooth Chocolate Blender Frosting
Dried tart cherries: my favorite cherry for recipes.
Photo from Nutty Guys
Next week’s post will have several ideas for using dried fruit.
Why buy, or make, dehydrated fruits? My favorite reasons are that it preserves fruit without needing electricity (as in freezing), and it stores in a smaller space when compared to canning. It also intensifies the flavors, allowing me to use it as a sweetener.
If you’re buying them, how do you know what a good price is? The simplest way is to judge by serving size. One ounce of dried fruit is a serving, about equal in size to one medium fresh apple or peach. If a one-pound can of dried apples costs $5.75/lb (which it does at the Home Storage Center), that means you’re paying about 35 cents per apple. If you want to figure how that compares with price per pound fresh, 25 lbs of fresh apples reduce down to about 4 lbs. 4/25 of 1 lb @$5.75= .92/lb fresh apple price.
For other fruits, a fairly good estimate is 1 lb very-dried fruit = 5 lbs fresh; most fruits are somewhere around 80% water to begin with. 1 lb moist-dried fruit = 3 lbs. fresh, figuring about 2/3 of the water has been evaporated away. This isn’t exact, but is close, and is simple enough to remember and use. Dried blueberries (moist) at $ 12.30/lb are like paying $ 4.04/lb for fresh, or about $ 1.53 for a 6-oz clamshell. It costs around four dollars a pound to buy frozen blueberries, plus then I pay to run the freezer at home. Twelve bucks a pound sounds expensive, but it’s about half the price of fresh around here. They’re definitely worth having some on hand. Just keep them out of reach of the kids, or you won’t have any left!
If you live anywhere around Salt Lake City, you can get ‘returns’ at Nutty Guys’ warehouse for $1.50 per one-pound bag (of anything they sell). Returns are anything that didn’t sell within their 6-7-month “sell by” date; they get returned to the warehouse. Returns are unpredictable, you never know what will be there on the shelf, but they make for incredible bargains. Dried fruit is considered at its peak for one year. You can extend this by keeping it sealed, dark, and cool. This is something at its best when rotated regularly.
Here’s one way to use dried tart cherries; I always get them cheapest from Nutty Guys. (Returns shelf, hooray!) I created this recipe for a bake-off at the state fair a few years ago. The ingredients sound strange together, but, boy, are they good. The balsamic vinegar accentuates the chocolate and adds brightness to the cherry. (The recipe took 1st place.) These are like a very dark, intense truffle, with bits of sweet-tart, chewy cherry. They take only five minutes to mix.
CHERRY-CHOCOLATE BLISS BITES
1/4 cup dried tart cherries, coarsely chopped
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/4 tsp almond extract
1/3 cup sweetened condensed milk
1 (4 oz) bar Ghirardelli 60% cocoa bittersweet chocolate, broken*
Place dried cherries in a small microwavable bowl; pour in balsamic vinegar and almond extract. Microwave 30 seconds to help plump the cherries; set aside.
Microwave condensed milk 45 seconds or until hot but not boiling. Add chocolate and stir until mostly smooth. Add cherry mixture. Stir until well combined.
Pour into a loaf pan or other 2 cup container, bottom lined with parchment. Chill in freezer for 15 minutes or in refrigerator for 45 minutes until set.
Cut into squares or roll into balls. This recipe can be doubled or tripled.
*Any semisweet or bittersweet chocolate (bar or chips) can be substituted. Try to get something around 60% cocoa solids. I used Ghirardelli’s because that was who sponsored the contest. If you quadruple the batch, you’ll use the whole can of sweetened condensed milk (1 1/3 c.) and one whole pound of chocolate.
Fresh fudge, made whatever flavor you feel like. This one is Gingerbread Fudge.
Truffles, the same on the inside but rolled in cocoa, powdered sugar, and sprinkles.
For this batch of chocolate-peanut butter fudge, I used the Five Minute Fudge
recipe but split the batch in half after adding the marshmallow. Half of it got peanut butter, half of it got chocolate chips. I spread the peanut butter layer into a lined pan, then topped it with the chocolate mixture.
Lining the pan with waxed paper or foil, buttered, makes it much easier to cut the fudge when finished.
To make the peanut butter swirl, drop several small spoonfuls of plain peanut butter on top.
Tap the pan on the counter to get the peanut butter to flatten into the fudge.
Drag a knife or spoon back and forth through it to swirl a bit.
It's best to not break it up too much. Tap the pan on the counter again to flatten the top.
Chill until it's firm, then lift the whole batch out. Put it on a cutting board, and cut into squares.