The other day, while flipping through the latest Time magazine, a short segment on a new scientific study came to my attention. Mostly because it included a mention of brownies. Brownies are a rare commodity in serious international magazines.
My interest having been piqued, I went ahead and googled it up to find a few longer articles on the study…only to find that, somehow, scientists had recruited quite a few volunteers to eat brownie bites—yes, brownie bites—and did not even think to ask me. How insulting.
|I guess there's always these. source|
But I put aside my hurt feelings and read the rest of the articles in hopes of explaining away this terrible tragedy. Apparently, scientists were attempting to study how we connect the mouthfeel of food items with their caloric content. They used multiple experiments, one of which required participants to eat a cup of brownie bites and, for half of the participants, estimate their calorie content. One group got crunchy brownies; the other received softer brownies. Apparently, when a volunteer was asked to estimate the calorie content of the brownies (which would occur before eating them, that is), they tended to eat more if they had crunchy brownies. If the volunteer was not asked to estimate calories, they ate more of the softer ones.
So what does this mean? That softer, fudgier, gooier brownies are superior?
I’m not entirely sure from these brief articles, and of course you can’t draw conclusions from just one study, but it appears that people tend to associate crunchy foods with lower calorie content. I think?
This is what evolution has given us, people: bodies that associate chips and peanut brittle with health.
|And the inability to resist doughnuts. source|
On the other hand, we can take advantage of that inclination to create healthy, nutritious treats that taste like they have a gazillion calories. How? By making them soft and fudgey and gooey, of course! But how do we do that?
This is no new revelation, if you spend far too much time reading food blogs (as I do); yet the power of beans in brownies and blondies alike never ceases to amaze me. I mean, who was the first person to put black beans in brownies, and what kind of drugs were they on? Pure genius.
|Okay, June, what kind of drugs were YOU on?|
Most of the time, I’m a loud and proud member of Team Unhealthy Desserts; I frankly don’t give a shit about how much oil and sugar and flour is in my cake, so long as it tastes good. After all, it’s dessert: it’s supposed to be a celebration of pure, concentrated deliciousness. In my opinion, anyway.
But I do like my healthy goodies too. Mostly because that means they are suitable for breakfast. Which this brownie bar thingy totally is.
So today, I am celebrating the breakfast-ready, insane fudginess of bean bars by combining the black bean brownie and chickpea blondie…and frosting them with avocado, because why the hell not? And it tastes exactly the opposite of healthy.
Blondie brownie swirl bars with avocado frosting
Makes one 9 x 9 pan
Blondies (adapted from Chocolate Covered Katie)
250 grams • chickpeas • 1 ½ cups
3 grams • baking powder • ¾ teaspoon
0.5 gram • baking soda • 1/8 teaspoon
2 grams • salt • ¼ teaspoon
160 grams • brown sugar • ¾ cup, packed
8 grams • vanilla extract • 2 teaspoons
20 grams • quick oats (certified gluten-free, if you would prefer) • ¼ cup
64 grams • peanut butter • ¼ cup
Brownies (adapted from Taste of Home)
275 grams • black beans • 1 ½ cups
84 grams • nondairy chocolate chips • ½ cup
42 grams • canola oil • 3 tablespoons
185 grams • silken tofu • ¾ cup
143 grams • brown sugar • 2/3 cup, packed
40 grams • cocoa powder • ½ cup
4 grams • vanilla extract • 1 teaspoon
2 grams • baking powder • ½ teaspoon
1 gram • salt • 1/8 teaspoon
Avocado frosting (adapted from Real Raw Kitchen)
200 grams • avocado • 1 medium
40 grams • maple syrup • 2 tablespoons
4 grams • vanilla extract • 1 teaspoon
0.5 gram • almond extract • 1/8 teaspoon
Start by preheating oven to 350 degrees F and lining a 9 x 9 baking pan with parchment. Set aside.
Blend all ingredients under “blondies” in a food processor until very smooth. Pour batter into baking pan.
Next, place black beans, 42 grams / ¼ cup chocolate chips, and canola oil in food processor and blend until very smooth. Add tofu, brown sugar, vanilla, baking powder, and salt and blend until smooth. Pour batter on top of blondie batter and swirl together, just a little, before putting in the oven.
Bake for about 40 minutes, when the tops look dry and a toothpick comes out with dry batter; not wet, uncooked batter. I’m not sure how else to describe it, since it won’t come out clean…but it won’t be totally raw on the inside. Go with your gut on this one. Let cool completely before removing from pan and frosting—you can do this in the freezer if you’re impatient like me.
To make frosting, blend all ingredients under “avocado frosting” in the blender. I was too lazy to do this so I simply mashed them together with a fork…and I got chunky frosting. Then again, it tastes the same. Smear that green gunk all over the brownies and munch.
I will tell you right now that you do not have to use the avocado frosting. No judgment. This is because I very intelligently forgot that avocados turn brown once they are exposed, and as such I ended up with a pan full of yummy bean brownies covered with, um, brownish-green mush. Yeah. That was kind of shitty.
|Ah, to be young and green again.|
Please forgive my ratty old pan. Ahem.
However, I was pleasantly surprised by the frosting’s flavor; the avocado is mostly a background note, with vanilla and sugar shining through. Nothing not to love there.
And it’s healthy! I mean, all of that brown sugar is practically non-caloric considering the radical healthiness of the beans! and oats! And tofu! Yum!
Okay. Next post, we’ll be back to butter-‘n’-sugar. Promise.