Black Bean Brownies for Valentines

Valentine hearts

Wait! Before you skip over this recipe . . . it’s good! When I first read the title, I thought to myself, “No way!”   (Plus, read on ~ Dr. Ferreri made a delicious Chocolate Cherry Pie using it for the crust.)

Since Valentine’s Day is just eleven days away, and chocolate and valentines go hand-in-hand, I decided to give the recipe a try to see if it would be worth making as a special treat for my family. I didn’t mention that beans were in it, and they liked them. However, I highly recommend keeping the black beans a secret ingredient!

I have a son with type I diabetes that requires accurate insulin coverage, so I calculated approximately 30 grams of carbs per brownie if the recipe is cut into 12, even pieces. Because of the beans, they didn’t affect his blood sugars in a negative way. 


Black Bean Brownies

½ cup dark cocoa powder

2 t. vanilla

1 t. baking soda

1 (15 oz.) can of salt-free black beans (drain liquid)

1 large handful of sunflower seeds or 1 T. ground flaxseed

1 ¼ cup unsweetened applesauce

2 cups pitted dates (chopped)

¾ cup whole wheat flour

1 cup walnuts

Put the first six ingredients in a food processor. Turn it on and then gradually add the 2 cups of chopped dates, a few at a time until blended. Add the flour and continue to mix until everything is well blended. Turn off the machine, remove the blade, and stir in the nuts. Spread into a 13” x 9” pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes. 

brownie batter

Note: I doubled the recipe, put the batter into the 13” x 9” stoneware pan, and increased the baking time to 55 minutes. It made 24, chewy brownies. I thought they were plenty sweet, but next time I’ll slightly reduce the applesauce, and add one or two ripe, mashed bananas to make them a tad bit sweeter for my family's tastebuds. 


Dr. Ferreri made and taste-tested the following recipe. She and her friends gave it a “thumbs up!”


Chocolate Cherry Pie

Crust = ½ recipe of the black bean brownies

Spray a pie plate with olive oil, and spread the brownie batter into the bottom and sides.  Bake 15 minutes at 350 degrees.


2 - 16 oz bags of frozen cherries, thawed

1 cup dates

1 Tbsp arrowroot

Drain the cherries and reserve the juice.  Set aside ½ cup of cherries, and place the rest in a bowl.

Blend in Vitamix or blender: cherry juice, ½ cup cherries, dates, arrowroot

Stir the juice/date mixture in with the cherries, spoon into the crust.  Bake for 1 hour at 350 degrees.


Enjoy! These recipes make delicious, health promoting treats. Please let us know how yours turn out!    


image credits: hearts,; brownie batter, Emily Boller

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Comments (28) Read through and enter the discussion with the form at the end
Joseph Rodriguez - February 3, 2010 10:48 AM

this looks yummy...

carol - February 3, 2010 4:50 PM

the brownies sound good, but would be interested to know the calories per brownie if cut into 12 pieces....

Michael - February 3, 2010 5:13 PM

I calculated this out once with reduced sodium black beans and no walnuts (1/10th recipe size). Obviously adding walnuts would change it some.

Calories: 160
Fat: 7%
Protein: 12%
Carbohydrate: 81%
Sodium: 70 mg
Fiber: 6.5 grams

leslie - February 3, 2010 5:53 PM

So excited to try these recipes!!

Cathy - February 3, 2010 6:16 PM

Do you drain the can of black beans? Thanks.

anon - February 3, 2010 11:49 PM

If anyone tries the brownie recipe can you please post a comment about it? I would like to try them, but would like some input from other folks who may have made them already. Suggestions are always good to tweek recipes a bit.

Amanda - February 4, 2010 1:55 AM

Do you think it would work to use Carob Powder instead of Cocoa, My duaghter has never had Cocoa and I am hesitant to give it to her.

Michael - February 4, 2010 12:53 PM


This is the best "healthy" brownie recipe I've ever tried. I think they taste best after they've been chilled. They have a rich fudgy texture to them.


I use the entire can, including the liquid.


Deana Ferreri - February 4, 2010 1:20 PM

I drained and rinsed the beans, so I guess it will work either way.

Emily Boller - February 4, 2010 9:40 PM

I cut them up and put two or three in a plastic ziploc bag and froze them. I'd pull out a bag and set in refridgerator to thaw - I agree with Michael - they taste great cold. (However, warm, and right out of the oven was a special treat also!)

I would definitely only make these for special occassions and not eat them on a daily basis, unless I was burning lots of calories that day.

I'm sure one could substitute carob for the cocoa powder. Try it and let us know how they turn out!

I think if additional beans were added, you could make a quick, drop cookie also. Any thoughts?

Michael - February 5, 2010 11:20 AM


I'll have to try freezing them. I haven't made them in weeks because I eat too many. They definitely trigger me to binge, even though they are fairly healthy, but calorie dense.

I've also used canned pumkin and 2 bananas in place of the applesauce and cocoa with 2 teaspoons of pumpkin pie spice for a pumpkin bar. I use pinto, navy or canneloni (spelling?) beans instead of black beans for this recipe.


Jo - February 7, 2010 6:07 PM

Made these with my daughter over the weekend, she wouldn't try them bc of the beans (lol) my son took a bite, set it back down on the table and said he was going to save it for later, a polite way to say 'no thanks'.

I however LOVED them warm so when I tried them cold well.. they are lots lots better after they have been refrigerated.
I think next time I make these, d-e-f-i-n-i-t-e-l-y going to make these again, i'll add a few more dates for sweetness, I can't have bananas so thats out.
My husband eats regular ol' junk food and said he likes them they just needed a little more chocolate. SO i'll have to add more of that too.

I think these are Great for a quick healthy treat for those of us who don't usually eat a lot of sweet items.

Two other suggestions that I will try, were using this as a base for a pie (mentioned above) or making them into balls and rolling them in crushed walnuts and cocoa powder.

p.s I didn't tell my husband that it had beans in it. He didn't notice at all. He HATES beans.

Emily Boller - February 8, 2010 1:01 PM

Great suggestions, Jo!

Thanks for sharing your ideas. I love the idea for "Chocolate Balls." (omit "beans" out of the title for family and friends - smile.)

Yes, most definitely keep the beans a secret from your husband!

These would even be good rolled into balls around almonds or pecans for a special treat.

Jemoiselle - February 9, 2010 8:28 PM

Just made these, or should I say am in the process of making them! I had to make my own beans (no cans available w/o salt sugar and other junk) and measure them out to approximate the 15oz using cups which I know is not completely accurate as 15oz weight is not the same as 15oz fluid but it's all I have. I am on vacation right now at my parent's house! So, I used two cups of drained black beans, and followed the rest of the recipe exactly. It's been 25 minutes and they are still not done. So, back in they go! I tasted part of the corner, not bad! I am looking forward to tasting them cooked though =P Wish me luck! I'll report back what happened...part of me is afraid they won't firm up at all as they are still the consistency of thick pudding with a dry top.

Do give them a try!

Jemoiselle - February 10, 2010 1:29 AM

Ok, to update my previous post, I allowed them to bake for about 5 more minutes then decided to stop baking and just allow them to chill/cool. When pulled from the oven, the hot brownies resembled thick pie filling. It worked though, they turned into lovely easy to cut fudgey brownies! I think I added too few ounces of beans, a mistake I will correct when I make them in my own home with my trusty food scale and my vitamix! I believe my 16 fluid ounces of drained beans equaled about 12 ounces of metric beans instead of 15. I found a way to do the math after I researched cooked black bean weights and did some kitchen algebra! Fun. Overall, I feel this recipe is a winner! It really satisfies my desire to taste something chocolaty, while I find the beans really fill me up and help me to only eat one or two hehe, as opposed to the whole pan like I did pre-ETL! Once again, ETL delivers great taste, great health, and great control. I truly love ETL! Five Stars!

Emily Boller - February 11, 2010 6:59 AM

Thanks for the tips Jemoiselle.

A friend of mine found a chocolate pudding recipe on the member center that she says is super delicious. It's made from cooked yams, blueberries and cocoa powder. I wonder if you could spread that on top of the chocolate pie crust and have another chocolate treat.

I would not want to make chocolate treats on a daily basis, but for special occasions, it's fun to have these kinds of recipes.

Cheers to all!

Jennifer - February 12, 2010 1:53 PM

I made these last night exactly according to the recipe, and they turned out great. I'm not a regular brownie eater, but liked them, and my brownie-loving (open-minded) boyfriend enjoyed these too. They were not easy to cut into squares warm though, but after being chilled are a fudgy texture today, easy to cut. Would make them again if needed a brownie craving satisfied :)

Elisa Rodriguez - February 15, 2010 9:14 AM

I made the cherry pie yesterday for my hubby on Valentine's Day and boy was that a treat! I didn't have dates so I substituted with raisins and I didn't find any frozen red cherries, so I used black cherries - which made the pie appear a deep purple instead of red, but it tasted divine warmed with a small scoop of vanilla rice dream. I will definitely make this recipe again and try to master the appearance for special times.

Tia - February 15, 2010 3:29 PM

I made my own version of these yesterday for Valentines Day. Thanks for the great idea! They were delicious! Mine had mango applesauce but as I didn't have the called for amount I used 2 super ripe bananas. I also added some cinnamon to the cocoa powder, honey for sweetening and a couple tablespoons of hazelnut milk because they batter was WAY too thick without it. They were delicious! I gave some to my mom & little sister and they did not believe they were made with black beans.

BTW I did rinse the beans thoroughly before using them.

Alvin - February 15, 2010 11:12 PM

Olive oil? Fuhrmanism does not allow the use of oils. What is it doing in this pie recipe, and why does the webmaster not exercise some control?

Deana Ferreri - February 16, 2010 11:21 AM

Dr. Fuhrman's plan does allow olive oil occasionally and in small amounts. In this recipe, it is only needed so that the brownie batter doesn't stick to the pan. The amount used here is less than a tablespoon and split into 8 servings, so the caloric effect is almost insignificant.

Trulie - February 22, 2010 10:52 AM

See pictures and my version of this recipe here:

I added coconut milk and bananas and made an icing with nuts. I loved telling people after they gobbled them up that they were made with black beans!

al - April 6, 2010 5:42 PM

Do you make the applesauce from scratch? If not, what brand do you like?

Emily Boller - April 7, 2010 12:36 PM

No, I don't make the applesauce from scratch. I use an unsweetened brand from my local grocery - I can't remember the exact name right now off the top of my head. I'm sure any unsweetened brand will do.

DD - January 27, 2011 12:44 AM

we did not want the kids to know the Black Bean Brownies were in fact Black Beans. so, we just said Brownies. They loved them. thought they were the best ever. they still don't know they are primarily black beans. and has become the favorite dessert to date!

Sue - June 1, 2011 8:35 PM

I tried your recipe, but used carob powder because cocoa has caffeine, which keeps me awake. I pureed a can of tinned pears instead of applesauce. I used 1T of LSA instead of sunflower seeds. Couldn't buy black beans anywhere, so I used a mix of other tinned beans. I also added some stevia because I love my sweets to be really sweet. It was magnificent! Healthy enough to have for breakfast, which of course I did!

Megan - August 1, 2012 12:51 PM

Anybody know what kind of baking works the best for baking? Also, any recommendations on which kind of cocoa would be best?

Thank you!

Sarah - July 25, 2013 12:14 AM

These are delicious! I substituted the whole wheat flour with coconut flour. They turned out very sweet with the two cups of dates. I went back for seconds! Thank you for posting this! :)

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