Thursday, October 6, 2011

Chocolate Black Bean Cupcakes. Really.

I've been playing with this recipe for over a year, posting it once or twice along the way on my other blog. If you have those versions and love them, keep on using them. But I really think this version is perfection in a little paper baking cup, and I'll stop messing with it now.

I usually don't tell people exactly what's is in these until after they've tasted them. Then it doesn't matter. Minds and mouths are wide open, and black beans and prunes suddenly seem like perfectly obvious ingredients to include in chocolate cupcakes. I'm not really much of a baker, but these always work for me, and I love serving them because I know they're actually food, packed with protein and fiber, and not just another mindless sweet treat.

Chocolate Black Bean Cupcakes
Makes 12 cupcakes

If making Cashew-Almond Coconut Frosting, start nuts soaking per recipe below.
Preheat oven to 350º

In a large mixing bowl, combine dry ingredients:

1 c flour - I use quinoa flour for its protein content, and because I avoid gluten, but whole wheat works well for these too.
1/2 c unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp chili powder

In a food processor, combine:

1 c cooked black beans - I cook mine from scratch, but you can use canned beans if you like.
12 large dried prunes - soak the prunes in some water for a while first if they're very dry and hard.
4 T water

Blend until fairly smooth, and then add:

1 c brown rice syrup (agave or maple syrup work well too)
1/3 c coconut oil (coconut oil is good for you - google it)
2 tsp vanilla
2 tsp apple cider vinegar (this combines with the baking soda to help the cakes rise)

Buzz up the wet ingredients until well mixed, then gradually stir the wet ingredients into the big bowl of dry ingredients. This is a rather thick batter. Spoon it into a lined cupcake pan, and bake at 350º for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. At my high altitude of 7000 ft, it takes 25 minutes.

Cool the cakes on a rack for a while before frosting them, or just eat them plain and warm. So good!

Cashew-Almond Coconut Frosting

Soak 1/2 c raw cashews and 1/2 c raw almonds in water for about 2 hours.
Drain and rinse nuts, and place in food processor.
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 c agave or maple syrup
1 T orange liqueur - optional
Blend well, scraping sides of bowl often. Depending on your food processor, the frosting will be somewhere between a little bit crunchy and super smooth.
1/4 c unsweetened coconut, and blend until mixed in.

You can stretch this amount of frosting to top 12 cupcakes, but I like to put a more generous amount on just 10 of them, leaving 2 unfrosted. It seems there's always someone who prefers naked cake, or is allergic to nuts. These are great either way. You can't help but feel the love when you eat these little cakes. And if you happen to have heart shaped teacups, so much the better.