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Beans, in black and white

Look into my eyes (you’ll have to do your own Transylvanian accent here, I’m afraid) and repeat after me…. “Beans are not just for chili and soups…beans are not just for chili and soups…”

You’re feeling your eyes getting heavier…and heavier…..

OK, enough of the hypnosis. I realize that there are readers who suspect that your Aunty is obsessed with beans. I love beans. But I realize a lot of people do not have the same affection for them that I do.

Well, today is YOUR day. I don’t know how anyone can say “Nyet” to a piece of cake that has:
No gluten
No processed sugar
A whole lot of fiber and protein
And tastes yummmmmmmy.

Now, when I did my quick and dirty search for desserts made with beans, the most popular item was brownies made with black beans. We’ve covered black bean brownies here before. Then I found this recipe for a chocolate cake and decided to fiddle around with it. Black bean chocolate cake. Now, one item that caught my eye was the claim that you can use other sorts of beans with this. Hmmmmm. Here are her ingredients; I’ll leave it to you to read the author’s instructions because I will tell you what I did to produce what you will see here.

Ingredients — this makes one 9″ layer so if you want to make a layer cake, you’ll need to double the recipe:
1-15 ounce can of unseasoned black beans
OR 1 1/2 cup cooked beans, any color
5 large eggs
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
6 tablespoons unsalted organic butter OR unrefined coconut oil
3/4 cup erythritol + 1/2 teaspoon pure stevia extract
OR 1/2 cup honey + 1 teaspoon pure stevia extract
OR 1 1/4 cup Splenda (using Splenda is not recommended)
6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon aluminum-free baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon water (omit if using honey)

I did not use any salt. I went with the honey and threw in one packet of stevia powder. I also found that 6 T. of cocoa powder left the batter a bit ‘loose’ to my eye, so I threw in another 2 T. and it was much better.

My instructions:
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Grease a 9″ cake pan. Dust a little cocoa all over the inside of the pan. If your butter is still hard from the fridge, nuke it in the microwave for about 10 seconds. You want it to be at least room temperature if not a bit soft.

Drain and rinse beans in a strainer or colander. Shake off excess water. Place beans, 3 of the eggs, vanilla, stevia (if using) into blender or food processor. Blend on high until beans are completely liquefied. Sift together the cocoa powder, baking soda, and baking powder. Beat butter with honey until light and fluffy and add the other two eggs, beating after each addition. Pour bean batter into egg mixture and mix. Finally, stir in sifted coco powder, baking power and baking soda. If it’s a little bit ‘tight’, add a teeny bit of water, until smooth. Scrape batter into pan.

Bake for 40-45 minutes. Cake is done with the top is rounded and firm to the touch. Leave the cake in the pan for about 10 minutes, turn out cake from pan onto a plate. Let cool until cake reaches room temperature, then cover in plastic wrap. This keeps very well in the fridge.

Now, the blogger at Healthy Indulgences did this as two layers and has a recipe for frosting too. I put plain pieces of this in front of the DH and our son, who were very excited about it. It has a melt-in-your-mouth texture – it really is not a cake, per se. But I served it with a little plop of whipped cream – no one complained about the lack of frosting.

Now, once I had done this, the claim that you can make this cake with other beans gnawed at me. On the one hand, of course you can do that. Chocolate is a very strong flavor, strong enough to cover black beans for sure. But what if you did not want to make a chocolate cake? What if you wanted to make something else – an almond cake or an orange flavored cake? And what if you don’t want little bits of black beans in it, either? There is always the whole ‘attractiveness’ issue there and more than one person has turned up their spoon at black bean soup because of the color.

What to do…what to do? Another issue is that black beans (which I love) have a great mushy, non-gritty texture. Great Northern beans, though white, sometimes are a bit grainy to my way of thinking. What white bean has a great mushy texture?

Light bulb moment! Cannelloni beans, which I just happened to have several cans of on the shelf.

Another issue here, though, is the cocoa – what can I substitute for cocoa, which basically serves to hold the rest of the beans and liquid together so that it can be baked?

Well, I don’t know about anyone else, but in your natural foods store, or bakery section, or even over the internet (I got mine from Nuts.com) you will probably find at least one type of product that comes under the heading of ‘nut flour’. It might be almond or coconut (but you can find other sorts too – filbert, peanut, etc.), but this is finely ground nuts – perhaps not as finely ground as cocoa is, but fine enough, believe me. I substituted one for one almond flour for the cocoa, substituted half the amount of almond extract for the vanilla, left everything else the same and produced this.

Now, to be truthful, the flavor is not ‘hit you in the head’ like the black bean/chocolate cake is. Chocolate is a very strong flavor and it combines with the black beans to produce a very fudgy flavor. The texture is pretty much the same, but the flavor is very delicate and it works best on the plate with a little jam or preserves, or fruit compote.

Just don’t tell your guests that what’s on their plates is — beans.

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