“Ok, guys. Before you taste these, I need you all to know that these are special brownies,” I announced with enthusiasm to the room of conservative Marines and their sweet, wholesome wives.
Silence shrouded the kitchen as my words were met with looks of surprise and outright horror.
“Oh, holy cow!” I thought to myself as the dire implication of the term “special brownies” suddenly sunk in.
“I mean… they’re only special because they’re made with sweet potato and black beans! What I meant to say was….they’re, they’re…they’re unique brownies! It’s a recipe from my new cookbook. There’s only half a cup of brown sugar in the whole batch!” I added in hurried desperation.
Luckily for me, the sickening silence of perceived disdain was overcome by the sound of laughter and exclamations of “Oh, Liz.”
I laughed along and sighed with relief while proceeding to pour myself a rather large glass of Chardonnay.
“Dodged that bullet,” I said to myself. “Now we’ll just have to see how these unique brownies actually go over after dinner.”
As the sun disappeared behind the arid Escondido mountains, we feasted on delicious chicken, veggies, and baked potatoes, painstakingly prepared on a smoker by our gracious hosts.
The night air was cool, so we gathered around the fire, casually sipping our drinks and polishing off our second helpings of food while discovering the many hopes, fears, and dreams that we all share as young military couples. It was truly a lovely evening.
Eventually the conversation came to a natural lull, and it was clear that dessert was in order. The pumpkin chocolate chip cookies that one couple brought were undoubtedly a hit. (My husband even confessed to shoving one in his mouth while loading up his plate with dinner and more pumpkin cookies.)
So how did my brownies fare? Well, everyone ate one and assured me they were good. But I had my doubts–What if they were just saying that to be polite? What if the brownies were disgusting, and everyone secretly disposed of them in their napkins while I wasn’t looking?
I remained uneasy, but fortunately my fears were assuaged towards the end of the night when one of the guys popped a brownie in his mouth and declared, “Mmm these are really good!”
“Even with the black beans and sweet potato?” I inquired skeptically.
“I didn’t even know there was anything besides chocolate in them,” he replied.
Apparently he had been outside manning the smoker during the whole “special brownie” debacle and had missed the whole thing.
Well, there you have it. The brownies were indeed special.
And now that we have that long-winded backstory out of the way, here is the recipe for the “Better Brownies” (with a few of my own adjustments) adapted from Daphne Oz’s fabulous new cookbook, “The Happy Cook”: (a link to her recipe can also be found here: http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/recipe/brownies-daphne-oz-42256544.)
“Better Brownies” Recipe
- 1 15 oz can of black beans (or 1/2 cup of black bean flour)
- 1 large sweet potato
- 2 large eggs
- 2 tablespoons melted butter
- 1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/3 cup hot coffee
- 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
- 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- a sprinkling of powdered sugar (my own addition)
- Begin by draining and rinsing a 15 oz can of black beans. (I like to use a fine mesh fruit strainer for this.)
- Puree the beans in a food processor or blender. (I decided to go with the food processor since I received one as a wedding present, but had previously been too intimated by its many parts to use it. Turns out is very easy to assemble and to use. To puree the beans, simply hold down the “pulse” button for approximately four second intervals until the beans have a “hummus-like” consistency. Intermittently scrape down the sides of the processor with a spatula if the beans are sticking to it.)
- Next, thoroughly wash a large sweet potato and poke a few holes into it with a fork. Heat the sweet potato in the microwave for 7-8 minutes.
- Now is a good time to preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
- Spoon out 1 cup of the soft sweet potato flesh and whisk it together in a large bowl with the eggs, melted butter, vanilla, and brown sugar.
- In a small bowl, carefully pour the hot coffee over the chocolate chips and stir. (This will make your mouth water, and you will be tempted to eat this delicious mocha mixture straight from the bowl. Lucky for you and for the sake of the recipe, the mixture is hot, and you might burn yourself if you try to eat it–trust me.)
- In a separate bowl, gently stir together a 1/2 cup of the black bean puree with the unsweetened cocoa powder, baking soda, and kosher salt.
- Add the heavenly mocha blend and bean mixture to the sweet potato concoction. Stir to combine.
- Lightly grease a 9×13 inch brownie pan and pour the brownie batter evenly into the pan. (Daphne uses a mini muffin tin, but I couldn’t find mine for the life of me.)
- Bake brownies for approximately 12-13 minutes or until a toothpick comes out with just a few crumbs on it. (If using the mini muffin tin, Daphne recommends cooking the brownies for approximately 8 minutes.)
- Remove brownies from the oven and allow them to rest in the pan for 5 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.
Optional: Sprinkle brownies with powdered sugar and mini chocolate chips if desired.
Oz, Daphne. “Better Brownies.” The Happy Cook: 125 Recipes for Eating Every Day Like It’s the Weekend. New York: Harper Collins, 2016. 282-283. Print.
*For the record, I know that the title “Hey! (Brownie) Batter, Batter, Batter!” must be confusing since my post has nothing to do with baseball. However, I could not for the life of me come up with a title other than something along the lines of “Special Brownies”. (And I mean, I’d just learned my lesson of misleading people by accidentally misusing that term, and I wasn’t about to do it again.) So since this post was finished during the final inning of Game 7 of the World Series, I decided to go with a play on the phrase “Hey batter, batter, batter!” as a shout-out to the all of the diehard baseball fans in my apartment complex whose cries of joy made me smile while writing.