If you're looking for a healthy brownie recipe, these Fudgy Adzuki Bean Brownies are just the thing! These gluten free brownies have no sugar other than from dates, and are incredibly easy to make. Made with coconut oil, cocoa powder, and dark chocolate chunks, just whiz them together in your food processor and you'll have drool-worthy dairy free brownies ready in no time at all!
Ok, let's talk about treats.
I'm of the opinion that we should just leave treats alone. Let them be treats and enjoy them in all of their buttery and sugar-laden glory.
One time while I was at a party that I had made most of the food for, including a few chocolate cakes (this cake, to be specific), a girl came up to me and asked if there was sugar in the cakes.
I told her of course there was sugar in the cakes. They're cakes! Chocolate cakes! She gave me the most bewildered look. It was as if she couldn't possibly comprehend the words that had just come out of my mouth. Finally she spoke, "but I thought you were a nutritionist?!"
I sure am! And because I'm a nutritionist who preaches from the pulpit of moderation and believes in Intuitive Eating and Health At Every Size, I have a pretty chill relationship with desserts; I eat them when I'm craving them, I enjoy the hell out of them, and I move on with my life.
There's nothing worse than settling for a sad healthy imposter dessert only to find it super unsatisfying. I'd rather honour my cravings and have a small amount of an actual dessert than eat a big portion of some bogus carob cookie and find myself still wanting the real deal.
I'm telling you this because I want you to understand that if I'm putting a dessert in front of you made from beans then it had better be damn delicious.
So here I am, a staunch believer in real desserts putting forth this healthy brownie recipe and asking you to trust me. I promise you, these Fudgy Adzuki Bean Brownies are legit.
Yes, they also happen to be gluten free brownies and dairy free brownies and sugar free brownies, but that's not the point. They're fudgy and chocolately and they're damn delicious.
Let's go make some dang bean brownies and see what the fuss is all about!
What's in this healthy brownie recipe?
Here's what's up! You're going to need to grab the following ingredients:
- Beans! --> We're using adzuki beans because they're sweet and delicious. Related: How to Cook Dried Beans.
- Dates --> Medjool dates is how these sugar free brownies are getting their sweet on. Make sure they're nice and soft!
- Eggs --> To bind this beautiful mess together.
- Coconut oil --> A l'il bit of the virgin cold-pressed kind. Related: Is Coconut Oil Healthy?
- Cocoa powder --> I used Dutch process.
- Vanilla extract --> Try making your own vanilla extract!
- Dark chocolate --> We're chopping up a bar of the good stuff to take things home.
How do you make Adzuki Bean Brownies?
Step 1: Put the dates and beans into the bowl of your food processor. (I have this one and it works like a boss.) Pulse it a few times.
Step 2: Scrape down the sides, and then run your food processor until you've got a mostly smooth bean and date paste. This will look kind of like the consistency of a weird hummus at this point.
Step 3: Add the eggs, coconut oil, and cocoa powder to the food processor. A pinch of salt is good here too.
Step 4: Run the food processor until the mixture is completely smooth. You may need to scrape down the sides and fun it again to ensure everything is smoothly mixed.
Step 5: Scrape the mixture into a parchment-lined pan, and scatter with chopped dark chocolate. I highly recommend stirring a little bit of the chocolate right into the brownie mixture as well, for optimal fudginess.
Step 6: Bake! We're looking for that perfectly baked but under-baked point that ensures the brownies are fudgy, not cakey. Because everyone knows that cakey brownies are for chumps.
That's it! You're done!
A few things to note...
While ordinarily my brownie eating style involves eating them still warm from the oven with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top, I do recommend you cool these bean brownies before you eat them.
Something about letting them cool and solidify a bit allows them to be fudgy but not taste beany.
What size pan is best for this healthy brownie recipe?
The pan I used in these photos is a 5x9 rectangle. You can also use a 8x8-inch square pan. However, I do NOT recommend going any bigger than that. A 9x9 pan will be too big and the brownies will be thin and just kinda meh.
Can I use a different kind of beans?
If you can't find adzuki beans then you can use black beans in their place. However, black beans aren't quite a sweet as adzuki beans, so the recipe will turn out ever so slightly differently.
Can I make vegan bean brownies?
I have not personally tested this recipe without eggs, but my friend Kellie, who's own bean brownie recipe was the inspiration for this one, suggests using chia eggs or another vegan egg substitute.
Do I need to use the chocolate chunks?
Well, no. You do you. But I strongly urge you to include them as they really contribute to these brownies tasting actually delicious and not like weird hippy food.
I mean, look at this photo and tell me you don't want the chocolate chunks:
Is this healthy brownie recipe really sugar free?
Well, no. They're sweetened entirely with dates, so are completely free of refined sugar, but dates to contain an actual butt-load of sugar to be certain.
How much is a butt load? 100g of Medjool dates (about 4 pitted) contains roughly 265 calories, 75g carbohydrates, 2g protein, and only traces of fat.
Of that 75g carbohydrates, about 90% is sugar, which is mostly in the form of glucose and fructose. This means that of those 265 calories, about 240 come from sugar.
But don't let the calories stop you from eating dates! They are also an excellent source of dietary fiber (about 7g in that 100g serving), and dates are especially rich in soluble fiber, which is the kind that helps maintain healthy blood cholesterol and stabilize blood sugar levels.
Plus, dates are rich in a host of different vitamins and minerals, so eat 'em up!
What's the deal with adzuki beans?
Adzuki Beans, also called aduki or azuki, are sweet little red beans that are commonly found throughout east Asia. You'll recognize the sweet taste if you've ever had a red bean dessert before.
Like all beans, adzuki beans provide a good amount of plant-based protein, and are rich in both soluble and insoluble dietary fiber. Beans tend to be very satisfying, as the combination of protein and fiber helps to slow digestion and moderate the uptake of sugar into the blood stream.
Adzuki beans also provide folate, phosphorous, iron, copper, magnesium, manganese, potassium, and vitamin K. A good source of antioxidants, adzuki beans have been linked to improved heart health, blood sugar control, and contribute to a healthy gut microbiome.
Other healthy desserts you might enjoy:
Fudgy Adzuki Bean Brownies
- Preheat your oven to 180°C / 350°F. Line a 8x8 or 9x5 baking pan with parchment paper, or grease well.
- In the bowl of a food processor combine the pitted dates and adzuki beans. Pulse until they're broken up and well combined.
- Add the vanilla, cocoa, oil, and eggs, and run the food processor until the batter is very smooth.
- Stir half of the chopped dark chocolate into the batter at this point, if desired (I highly recommend this!)
- Scrape the batter into the prepared baking pan, and then scatter the remaining chopped chocolate over the top.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes, until the edges are set but the middle is still just very slightly jiggly. You can bake them a bit less for fudgier brownies if you like.
- Remove from the oven and cool for about 10 minutes before you cut into them.
- Nutrition values are an estimate only.
This recipe was originally published March 13, 2014. It was retested, rephotographed, and updated August 13, 2019.
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