Yup. Flourless, butterless, sugarless healthy brownies are actually a thing using adzuki red beans.
When I revealed my ingredient for the Rennie Mystery Box Challenge at the live cooking demo with Sortedfood, I didn’t even know what it was, never mind knowing what how to include it in a recipe. Gulp.
But it turns out you can do quite a few things with adzuki red beans. I had some great suggestions from Erin of Island Bell to make adzuki red bean ice cream and Lucy from Lucy Loves To Eat to turn the red beans into a paste. Both appealed to me as I have a massive sweet tooth (as you’ll know if you’ve read my London food reviews).
I’ve never made any of those suggestions (I’ve never really cooked or baked anything) so I was a little unsure this was a good time to start.
What I have baked before, however, are brownies. This was only twice, during my Great British Bake Off phase. The first batch came out surprisingly well. The second were cooked on the outside, uncooked on the inside. I remembered seeing gluten free black bean brownies when I went to Ethos Foods (review). Surely I can substitute black beans with red beans?
Turns out, you can make brownies healthy(ish) – no really! I was put off baking initially because I saw how much butter, flour and sugar actually goes into making brownies. Don’t get me wrong, I still buy brownies and other sweet baked treats all the time, but that’s different. It was like seeing how a sausage is made – no one needs to see that.
Now I can see why contestants on Great British Bake Off get so upset when things go wrong. I wanted to cry when my first batch of red bean brownies came out drier than my sense of humour. But with a few adjustments to the original adzuki brownie recipe, I surprised myself how good it tasted without butter or sugar. Adzuki beans are naturally sweet making them the perfect substitute. It also means this recipe is also gluten free if you’re a sufferer!
I didn’t stop there. I got a little carried away. My creative side took over. Oh dear.
In addition to making red bean brownies, I decided I would make a red bean brownie trifle, with Toblerone chocolate ganache (inspired by the chocolate coffee ganache made by the Sortedfood boys), crunchy hazelnut cream (because I love Ferrero Roches) and Irn Bru jelly (because I’m Scottish). Topped with popping candy (just because). This, from the guy with little experience of cooking or baking.
Here is the recipe for my chocolatey, nutty, crunchy, adzuki red bean brownie trifle! Gotta come up with a snappier name.
Adzuki Red Bean Brownies
- 250g adzuki red beans
- 60g cocoa
- 3 eggs
- 1tsp salted caramel flavour
- Soak your red beans overnight. Replace with fresh water and boil for an hour. Top Tip! The beans need to be soft to get a smooth texture. I used my rice cooker just to see if this was possible, but boiling them like a normal person works also.
- Drain the adzuki beans. Top tip! The beans dry out very easily, so save the drained water. This makes the brownies even sweeter! Put the beans into a food processor along with the eggs, cocoa, salted caramel (or vanilla extract). Pulse, whizz and add the leftover bean water as needed until you have a fairly runny mixture (like a regular brownie if you’ve made one before).
- Put the mixture in a baking tin (I used a muffin tray) and put into the oven for 15 minutes (but keep an eye on it as it depends how runny your mixture is) at gas mark 4 (180c).
You can stop reading the recipe here if you’d just like to make the red bean brownies. Otherwise…
Hazelnut cream filling
- 200g hazelnuts
- 1tbsp cocoa
- 1tsp salted caramel flavour
- 4tbsp caster sugar
- Spread the hazelnuts on a baking tray and put in the oven for 10 minutes.
- Remove from the oven, place the hazelnuts in a dish towel and rub to get the skins off.
- Add the hazelnuts to a food processor along with the cocoa, extract, caster sugar, double cream and pulse till the nuts are in small pieces.
Toblerone chocolate ganache
- 100ml double cream
- 5 pieces of Toblerone
- To make the ganache, simply fill a saucepan with boiling water, put a bowl over it (the water shouldn’t touch the bottom) and melt the Toblerone (other chocolates are available). Slowly add the cream until the ganache is shinier than those silver boots you’ve had your eye on (don’t, you can’t pull those off trust me).
Irn Bru jelly
- 1 gelatine powder
- 250ml Irn Bru
- To make the Irn Bru jelly (other soft drinks are available), add gelatine powder to the Irn Bru in a saucepan and boil. Pour into a mould and put it in the fridge.
Construct the trifle in any which way you like. Don’t forget about the popping candy. I also added walnuts. As if there wasn’t enough already.
First, the Mystery Box Challenge. Next, Great British Bake Off! Watch this space.