Yesss!! I was chosen this past week to join my first foodie battle over at FoodieFights.com. I found this neat place (created by TFIMB & Macheesmo) through some food blogs and decided to apply before taking off to Colorado. Then, to my surprise, I received an email stating that I've been chosen and to check out the website to see the secret ingredients for the 13th Battle of Foodie Fights!
Before I go on... let me give you a quick run down of how this works: Foodie bloggers sign up for the week and 6 are chosen. The battle is between 6 food bloggers who are required to prepare a course using two secret ingredients. They post their wonderful creations using those 2 ingredients and the judging begins. Basically, this is a blog-version of Iron Chef. The judges won't taste the food, but they will look at it, read the blog posts, possibly lick their screens if the picture looks too good to pass up and make their decision based on which they would rather eat, creativity & overall blog post (methods, good photography, humor, etc...). So, that's how its done! Pretty simple and fun, huh?!
Now, you all know that I live in Costa Rica and don't have access to places like Whole Foods, Sprouts, local health markets, specialty or simple grocery stores that carry almost EVERYTHING the world has to offer for making delicious dishes. So, I was a little nervous about what the 2 secret ingredients were gonna be, BUT they were... Black Beans & Coconut! Yeah!! I felt so giddy... I mean, I live in a country where fresh black beans and coconuts can be picked up anywhere! I HEART fresh coconuts and enjoy black beans. Whew - so glad that was easy, but next was coming up with some creative eye candy. Hmmmm... Curry? No. Soup? Nope. Salad? Nah Burritos? Blah... Well, then what?! After two days of thinking and looking and pondering, I decided to make a dessert... yup, you read that right... a sweet treat, my specialty :o)
Before we get going... let me tell you it took me 3 days to make these babies! Why 3 days? Because I had to sort through the black beans, soak them for 24 hours, cook them, rip & crack open the coconuts, grate them, make the crust, make the brownies, let them sit to cool overnight, make the glaze, prep for pictures, take pictures and THEN enjoy them... was it all worth it? Oh yeah! But you don't have to do it in 3 days, ok. You can use canned beans, dried coconut flakes and whip this up in an afternoon no problem... just need to let the brownies cool completely before serving to keep it from crumbling and it also tastes much better when cool.
Now, let the battle begin!!
Sorting, Soaking & Cooking the Black Beans
These beans were bought directly from farmers that were grown organically, picked by hand, sun dried and sold in the farmer's market. You can read here how to traditionally prepare (don't add the spices!) and cook the beans to prevent the common side effects. I love their brilliant black color!
Ripping, Cracking & Grating the Coconuts
Thanks to my dad... without him I couldn't open these coconuts! My parents picked up about 25 of these guys from Dominical, Costa Rica, a few weeks back and I love having fresh coconuts right on our back porch. If you look at the pictures closely, you'll see one was starting to grow a palm tree! For the dessert, I kept the flakes completely virgin & fresh... meaning that the milk, oil and moisture is all in the flakes. They are so sweet and robust! We all love to snack on fresh coconut meat, even Naomi (my 3 year old) kept asking for more after I told her "no more or there won't be any for the brownies!" LOL! :o)
You can read here how to prepare the coconuts, but we did grate off the brown skin before grating the meat.
Ok, we got the 2 main ingredients taken care of and ready to go! Remember to prepare ahead of time if you are going to go all out with fresh coconuts and black beans :o)
Now let the real fun begin! Woo hoo!
Bizarre Love Triangle Brownies:Coconut Crust, Black Bean Brownies & Macadamia GlazeCoconut Crust:
- 4 cups fresh (or dried) coconut flakes
- 1/2 cup coconut oil or butter, soften
- 3/4 cup Earth Circle Organics coconut sugar
- 1/2 tsp. sea salt
- 1/3 cup coconut flour
- 2 eggsPreheat oven to 350 F. Cut out parchment paper for a 9x13 baking pan and lightly grease it with coconut oil. Mix all the ingredients together in a medium bowl. Pour into prepared pan and spread the mixture evenly around the pan. Press lightly, but firmly. Bake in oven for 20-25 minutes. Do not overbake it! Pull crust out of the oven and let it cool a bit while making the brownie batter. If the crust puffs up a little, take a knife and poke slightly to allow hot air to escape. Leave the oven at 350 F for the brownies.Note: If you opt to use dried coconut flakes. Add 1/3 cup of butter or coconut oil into the mixture.Black Bean Brownies:
- 4 cups cooked black beans
- 7 eggs
- 1/2 cup cocoa powder
- 1 1/4 cup Earth Circle Organics coconut sugar
- 1/2 cup butter (or coconut oil)
- 1/2 cup coconut oil
- 2 Tbsp. vanilla
- 2 Tbsp. instant coffee
- 1/2 tsp. sea saltRinse out black beans with water and let it drain completely. Pour into your blender or food processor and blend for a couple minutes. Add in eggs, cocoa powder, vanilla, instant coffee & sea salt. Melt and briskly stir the coconut sugar, butter and coconut oil together over low heat. Add in with the rest of the ingredients. Blend till smooth. The batter should be thick, but slightly soupy.Pour the mixture over the coconut crust evenly. Bake for 45 minutes to one hour, or until the brownies are set. But don't overbake! Use a knife to test the brownies... it should come out clean.Set aside and let it cool in the pan completely while making the macadamia glaze. For quicker results, put them in the fridge.Note: You can use 2 cans of black beans instead of making it fresh and use instant grain coffee substitute instead of instant coffee.Macadamia Glaze:Store macadamia nuts in the freezer for at least a couple hours. Pour into food processor or blender and give it a whirl till it starts to clump together into a ball. While it is still going, pour in coconut oil. It should look runny. Turn off motor and add vanilla & coconut sugar. Blend it till completely smooth (several minutes). If you want it sweeter... add more coconut sugar. Pour the glaze into a seal tight jar.Note: you do not have to soak & dehydrate the nuts, but you'll be missing out the benefits and improved flavor from this nourishing technique.
Now, you all know you shouldn't judge the dish by its ingredients. I have tried things with ingredients that I don't normally enjoy, hate or that sound a little odd and have discovered them to be over the top delicious! Please give these guys the benefit of the doubt and try them before you make a judgement call... they are absolutely delicious, so smooth and VERY RICH. My family all adore these guys, especially my mom who is sensitive to wheat. Even Naomi couldn't keep her fingers out of the brownies!!
How did I come up with this? While brain storming for ideas, I remembered my Fudgy Rich Black Bean Brownies and instantly knew I had to make it, but also taking it 2 steps further to make them unique. I am very happy to point out that they are completely gluten-free, grain-free & refined sugar-free. They are also very high in protein, fiber & rich in coconut goodness! Speaking of coconuts, I really enjoyed trying out Earth Family Food's coconut sugar (love the carmel-like flavor!) and will be doing a review on their products soon! Don't you just love this? A completely guilt-free treat that the whole family (including kids) can gorge themselves on, but be warned... they are very rich and filling!!
Before I sign off, I want to give a big shout of gratitude to Foodie Fights for giving me this opportunity and challenging me to completely create my own recipe for these awesome brownies. Thanks guys, I had SO much fun!!
I also want to thank Jon, my creative hubby, for coming up with the name for the brownies. He is very good at thinking up fun, creative names and titles for my art, photography and now food work! While brainstorming ideas, he thought of the song "Bizarre Love Triangle" from an English rock band in the 80s, New Order. Yeah, the song is a little weird and doesn't make a lot of sense, but these brownies totally live up to their name... black bean, coconut and macadamia?? How weird, bizarre & delicious is that?!
Last, but not the least! I want to thank my sweet foodie friend, Becca, for her help and beautiful hands in some of the pictures... Love ya girl!
Now, go on over to Foodie Fights tomorrow (Tuesday) and look at the yummy creations & vote your favorite!!!
Tell me... what was your FIRST reaction when you saw "black bean brownie"? Have a great week y'all!!