These dense, creamy, fudgy brownie bars are vegan, gluten-free and refined-sugar free, and packed with the goodness of sweet potato and black beans. Healthy never tasted so good, my friends.
If there is one thing I have learned in my three years of cooking for a small person: no matter how much you push the healthy food and no matter how delicious you make it taste and appetizing you make it look, your kids will want chocolate. You can tell them that too much chocolate will give them tummy aches or torrent diarrhea; you can talk up the “sugar bugs” that will take up residence in their teeth; and you can hide mommy’s dark chocolate stash on the top pantry shelf behind the millet crackers. But all this will very likely make them want the chocolate even more desperately. It’s just one of those hair-pulling immutable parenting truths.
For the first couple years of her life, I did the darnedest to shelter the Bean from sugary temptations. I was judicious with maple syrup on her morning oatmeal, if I offered it at all. I gave her fresh fruit instead of cookies at the end of every meal. She ate plain unsweetened yogurt and drank water (with a splash of juice for a “treat”). If I made cookies or cakes or cupcakes, I stashed the leftovers in the depths of my freezer (so that I could secretly binge after she went to bed, of course).
Then one fateful day she had her first taste of a friend’s birthday cake. AND IT WAS ALL OVER. One measly bite was all it took to create a sweet-toothed little monster, and the girl would now take intravenous chocolate icing for every meal if she had it her way.
Now, some better parents might have continued to fight back, push the kale chips, and water down the apple juice with spirulina. But as far as I’m concerned, chocolate resistance is futile. So while the better parents are going to head to head with their sugar-loving wilful three year olds, I will be in the kitchen making Black Bean Sweet Potato Fudge Bars. (Kitschy socks totally optional.)
Now wait just a sec before you go all “why ruin chocolate with vegetables and beans” on me. I totally get it and am inclined to agree that as a general rule, chocolate and vegetables do not belong together. BUT no one will EVER guess that there are sweet potatoes and beans hiding inside these dense, soft, creamy fudgy brownie bars. Nor will anyone suspect that they are vegan, wheat-free and refined-sugar-free, either. I promise. This black bean sweet potato brownie bar is the ultimate healthy, flavourful, no-compromise chocolate treat.
These fudge bars are the perfect afternoon snack, nut-free lunchbox treat, and after-dinner delight. If you want to take them up a notch and serve them to guests—as a holiday dessert, for example—plate them with a dollop of sweetened whipped cream or whipped coconut cream, fresh raspberries and a shot of espresso. In that context they pass for a much more decadent flourless chocolate cake.
Are you convinced? Make them for your holiday guests or sugar-loving preschoolers; don’t tell them what’s inside; and see how fast they disappear off the table. Then report back here and let me know how it went. Okay?
- 1-14 ounce/398 ml can unsalted black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 cup roasted mashed sweet potato (see notes below)
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ⅓ cup plus 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
- ⅓ cup virgin coconut oil
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- ½ cup natural unprocessed unsweetened cocoa powder
- ½ cup dark bittersweet chocolate chips (optional)
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees, and line a 8x8 inch square baking pan with a criss-cross of parchment paper (i.e. you want to create a sling with the parchment paper).
- Add all the ingredients except the chocolate chips to the bowl of a food processor, and whirl it up until the mixture is very smooth (this will take at least a couple of minutes). Use a small spatula to stir in the chocolate chips, if you are using them.
- Spoon the batter into the parchment-lined pan and smooth it out as best you can.
- Pop the pan into the oven for about 30-40 minutes, or until the surface is starting to crack and the edges have pulled away from the parchment paper.
- Let the bars cool in the pan for about 10 minutes, and then carefully and quickly (so as not to split the bars down the middle) lift them out of the pan using the parchment paper, and onto a cooling rack.
- Once the bars are room temperature, transfer them to a flat surface (I like a cookie sheet) and into the fridge overnight, or for a few hours at least. When they are nice and cold, cut into bars and serve. Store any uneaten bars in the fridge.