dessert

heart-shaped Black Bean Brownies for Valentine's Day

Share the Love (and a Brownie) on Valentine’s Day!

Tomorrow is the big <3 day and I like to make something special for the Valentines in my life.  This year, I am sharing my recipe for Black Bean Brownies, which I made and cut into heart shapes for each of the four boys that light up my life!  Love you guys!

 

If you are still looking for a special treat to share with your loved ones, this one is easy to whip up.  All of the ingredients get dumped into a food processor or blender and mixed together.  Just be sure to plan ahead because it needs to bake for an hour and a half, a bit longer than a usual brownie.  But it will be worth it, I promise!

 

February is also Heart Health Month.  Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women in the United States.  That’s a scary statistic.  But what makes it less scary is that YOU CAN PREVENT IT by making healthy food choices.  And the biggest diet change that you can make to lower your risk of heart disease is to lower your cholesterol by eating more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and beans.  This recipe for Black Bean Brownies is packed full of heart-healthy ingredients – black beans, nuts (in the form of almond butter), ground flax seeds, dried cherries, even the chocolate!  All of these will help your heart to keep on ticking.  And you can still feel like you are indulging in a well-deserved sweet.  You’re welcome 🙂

 

You could make this dessert even prettier by serving it with some fresh strawberries or raspberries or some homemade whipped cream on top.  My big Valentine is traveling for work this week and one of my little Valentines is home sick from school so we are keeping things simple around here.  No time for whipped cream!

 

But, as usual, I hope that you take the recipe and make it your own!  Be sure to share in the comments if you try out any fun variations!

 

 

Black Bean Brownies
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Ingredients
  1. 2 cups canned black beans, drained
  2. 3/4 c pitted dates (about 12 dates)
  3. 2 tablespoons almond butter
  4. 1 teaspoon vanilla
  5. ½ cup cocoa powder
  6. 1 tablespoon chia seeds
  7. 1 tablespoon ground flax seeds
  8. 1 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  9. ¼ teaspoon cayenne powder (less if you don’t like it too spicy)
  10. ½ cup dried cherries, chopped
  11. coarse sea salt, for sprinkling
  12. dark chocolate chips (optional)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 200°F. Grease an 8x8-inch baking pan with coconut oil and set aside.
  2. Blend the beans, dates, nut butter, and vanilla in a food processor or blender until smooth. Add the cocoa powder, chia seeds, flax seeds, cinnamon, and cayenne and blend again. Add the dried cherries and pulse until combined.
  3. Transfer batter to prepared pan (batter will be very thick). Press down until evenly distributed. Sprinkle coarse sea salt on top of batter and press lightly so that the salt sinks into the batter. If desired, you can also sprinkle some dark chocolate chips on top and press these into the batter.
  4. Bake for 1 ½ hours. Cool completely before cutting into brownies. Enjoy!
Notes
  1. *Be sure to use canned black beans for this recipe. I usually like to use dried, soaked, and cooked black beans in my recipes but the brownies turned out too dry and crumbly when I used my dried beans.
Life From Scratch http://lifefromscratch.com/

 

Christmas Chocolate Bark

Christmas Chocolate Bark

 

One of the holiday traditions in our family is to bake Christmas cookies together.  Each December, we pull out our cookie recipes and pick out our favorites, gather and shop for the ingredients, turn up the Christmas music, and get to baking.  I’ve been doing this for as long as I can remember – back when I lived at home with my parents and baked with my mom and brother and sisters, when I moved out and lived on my own and baked cookies for everyone at work, when I got married and baked cookies for family parties and gifts, and now the tradition has come full circle and I am baking with my kids.  It’s such a great feeling and so comforting to take part in a tradition that has been passed down over the years!

 

This year, when we looked over our recipes, the kids and I came up with the following list, which we hope to package together and use as gifts for each of their teachers, our mailman, the bus driver, their great-grandparents, the barber, our neighbors, and anyone else that we think of who seems like they could use some Christmas cheer in the form of sweets!

 

·         Soft Molasses Cookies (our favorite newcomer from last year’s baking list)

 

·         Holiday Gingerbread Cookies (quickly becoming an old standby for our family and a fun tradition for the kids to use the cookie cutters and decorate the final result with homemade icing)

 

·         Gingerbread Biscotti (a new recipe we are trying this year – seems promising!)

 

·         Pumpkin Pie Energy Bites (a variation on my Granola Energy Bites)

 

·         Christmas Chocolate Bark (a variation on my Chili Chocolate Bark)

 

 

Here is how we made the Christmas Chocolate Bark:

 

making Christmas Chocolate Bark - step 1      

 

Place 12 ounces of chopped dark chocolate (70% or higher), 1 1/2 tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa powder, and 1 tablespoon of ground Ceylon cinnamon in a double boiler.  I like to use a glass mixing bowl over a medium pot of boiling water.  Heat and stir until melted and smooth. 

 

making Christmas Chocolate Bark - step 2

 

Remove from heat and stir in 2 tablespoons of chopped crystallized ginger plus ¾ cup each of dried cranberries and pepitas.

 

making Christmas Chocolate Bark - step 3

 

Pour chocolate mixture onto a baking sheet lined with wax paper. Spread evenly with spatula. 

 

making Christmas Chocolate Bark - step 4

 

Sprinkle with another 1/4 cup each of dried cranberries and pepitas, as well as some coarse sea salt.  Use the spatula to gently press the fruit, nuts and salt into the chocolate ever so slightly.  You want the red and green colors to still be visible in the end product but you need to press them in enough that they will stay put when the bark is cooled.

 

making Christmas Chocolate Bark - step 5

 

Place in freezer for 15 minutes or until hardened.

 

making Christmas Chocolate Bark - step 6

 

Break into pieces and serve immediately or store in fridge or freezer in airtight container. Enjoy!

 

Christmas Chocolate Bark

 

Whether you are planning a baking extravaganza as we are, or you just need a little pick-me-up in the form of chocolate, or maybe you signed up to bring a dessert to your holiday party – here is a recipe that is sure to be a winner!

 

Christmas Chocolate Bark
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Ingredients
  1. 12 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
  2. 1 ½ tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  3. 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  4. 2 tablespoons crystallized ginger, chopped
  5. 1 cup dried cranberries or cherries, chopped
  6. 1 cup pistachios (roughly chopped) or pepitas (whole)
  7. coarse sea salt
Instructions
  1. Place chocolate, cocoa powder, and cinnamon in a double boiler (I like to use a glass mixing bowl over a medium pot of boiling water) and heat and stir until melted and smooth. Remove from heat and stir in all of the crystallized ginger plus ¾ cup each of the dried fruit and nuts.
  2. Pour chocolate mixture onto a baking sheet lined with wax paper. Spread evenly with spatula. Sprinkle with remaining dried fruit and nuts, as well as coarse sea salt. Use the spatula to gently press the fruit, nuts and salt into the chocolate ever so slightly. (You want the red and green colors to still be visible in the end product but you need to press them in enough that they will stay put when the bark is cooled.)
  3. Place in freezer for 15 minutes or until hardened. Break into pieces and serve or store in fridge or freezer in airtight container. Enjoy!
Life From Scratch http://lifefromscratch.com/