Black Bean Brownies (adapted from Hemsley + Hemsley cookbook)


I have experimented with paleo baking a lot in the past year, so I don’t get surprised anymore when a cake recipe uses vegetables sweet potato or courgettes or even black beans. They are actually the kind of recipes that appeal to me the most! I like trying out unusual pairings and baking something that I wouldn’t easily find in a coffee shop or bakery to buy.

Black Bean Brownies (adapted from Hemsley + Hemsley cookbook) | Photography by Mondomulia

The BB brownies (made with black beans) by Hemsley + Hemsley are going straight into my recipe book, because are delicious and also fit the bill as a healthy treat!

If you have never heard of the Hemsley sisters before, let me introduce them to you:

Jasmine and Melissa Hemsley are food lovers with a passion for wellness and delicious, nutrient-dense cooking. The Art of Eating Well is their best-selling, first cookbook packed with over 150 nourishing and fun recipes that are free from grain, gluten and refined sugar. [quote from their website]


I recently attended a food demo at Selfridges in London, where I got to meet Jasmine and Melissa and chat to them briefly. They were very friendly, interacting with all the people gathered around them to watch the demo, really down-to-earth and lovely.


My recipe is slightly different than the original, as I used the ingredients I had available at home: 1 tin of black beans instead of two, since my local supermarket doesn’t stock them. I thought the batter might be too liquid, so I added four spoons of flour (self-raising to make sure my brownies would rise nicely – though the original recipe doesn’t list baking powder). I also added extra cocoa powder and a bit of light brown sugar (because I had used up all the maple syrup I had).

My brownies were not too sweet AT ALL and had a very rich chocolate taste, which is why my husband and I love them so much!


The original Hemsley + Hemsley recipe calls for one teaspoon of coffee extract, which I didn’t use this time but I think it would have added a nice taste to the brownies. Next time I will try adding a bit of coffee powder to see how it works!


I sprinkled hazelnuts on top of the batter and I think their crunchiness make the brownies even better than they would have been with just the walnuts. So just be creative and make small adjustments to this recipe, based on your taste and preferences.


  • 1 x 400g tin cooked black beans, drained
  • 220g unsalted butter
  • 4 medium eggs
  • 95g unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup self-raising flour
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 100ml maple syrup
  • 3 tsp vanilla extract
  • pinch of sea salt
  • 130g chopped walnuts

To make this recipe gluten-free and paleo, follow the original recipe (no flour – sugar) and replace the butter with coconut oil.



Preheat the oven to 170°C.

Rinse the black beans and leave to drain. Melt the butter in a saucepan over a gentle heat, then set it aside.

Place the drained beans, eggs, cocoa powder, flour, sugar, maple syrup, vanilla extract into a food processor with a pinch of salt. Pulse a few times and then blend until smooth. Add the melted butter, very slowly so as not to cook the eggs, while the machine is running. Stir in most of the chopped walnuts, reserving a handful for the top.

Grease the inside of a 24 x 20cm baking dish. Pour in the brownie batter and gently tap the dish on to a kitchen counter to even out the batter.


Sprinkle the remaining walnuts on top and bake for 40 to 45 minutes, until the brownie feels firm and springy and its surface is cracked.

Allow to cool completely before cutting into squares. Refrigerate the brownies to make them even more fudgy!


Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of the cookbook from Selfridges. All opinions are my own.

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Federica Carr
Federica Carr
27/02/2015 10:28

They look lovely! but I know I don’t like black beans :(

Juliet Oscar Yankee
26/02/2015 11:12

I’ve been eyeing this book for ages, and have seen it everywhere I go – probably a sign! Those brownies look gorgeous!

Valeria Necchio
Valeria Necchio
24/02/2015 21:58

They look so lovely G.! I tried to bake some cookies with black beans once but I think I didn’t puree them properly and the cookies turned out awful. I must give baking with beans a second chance! xx

Giulia Mulè
Giulia Mulè
26/02/2015 10:12

I didn’t puree the beans for this recipe, but it didn’t matter as I can’t see or taste them in the brownies! I think they just give that great fudgy consistency!

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