Brownie Points

My friends are my dessert guinea pigs. I am grateful for their continued service because sometimes we hit home runs and other times we strike out. And when you have a sweet tooth like mine, you need lots of friends (or larger pants and we don't want that, do we?).

Actually, when you have as many dessert recipes piling up as I do, you need friends and even friends of friends to serve as a pool of honest taste testers. Getting this immediate feedback allows me to keep honing my recipes until they shine and are adored (and later lovingly requested, keep reading) by all kinds of eaters including vegans and carnivores and everything in between.

My original tasting team are the women of the Bibliobabes book club. Once I take a treat to this group of well-poised female palates, the recipe has typically passed David's and my standards and I am ready to hear constructive criticism.

Here's what the taste testers always know: my desserts tend to be vegan, gluten-free, paleo and mostly free from refined sugars and butter. As soon as they taste the chosen dessert and I get their feedback, then I tell them what's in it. Or, rather, what's not.

Most recently, I tempted the book club members with the third adaptation of a brownie recipe I had been working on--featuring garbanzo bean flour. I used canned garbanzo beans for the first batch and while it was a tasty brownie, it was not good enough to repeat or even spend time refining.

Then I switched to garbanzo flour and immediately saw the potential--in spite of tossing the second batch entirely because it was insanely dry and no one should have to choke down brownies. With a bit more adjusting of the ingredients, the third batch was well on its way to excellence and the book club ladies all ate with a curious sense of abandon as they kept asking, "These are made with what kind of flour again? Chickpeas?"

The fourth and final time I made the brownies, I did so to celebrate a friend's birthday. Luckily, this batch pleased both me and the birthday boy, a-never-had-to-diet-tall-athletic-bike-warrior-friend-from-high-school-who-eats-whatever-he-wants-whenever-he-wants-and-who-happens-to-be-a-craft-beer-connoisseur.

The birthday boy was surprisingly impressed and intrigued when I told him all of the things these brownies did not have. This coincidentally piqued his interest because he had recently made a new friend who happens to eat gluten-free, which made him cautiously curious about the whole "gluten-free food" thing now that it was hitting closer to home. It wasn't until he ate a second brownie that he realized these brownies were even better than he originally thought.

But because he is neither a kitchen warrior nor a particularly health conscious eater, he innocently yet inquisitively inquired, "So, if they don't have any flour or refined sugar, why do they taste so good?"

It is at this moment--when I make something that tastes exactly like you expect it to taste, but has none of the standard ingredients--when I know I have tweaked a recipe enough to fool someone who does not eat clean. I sent the birthday boy home with a doggy bag of leftover brownies that were shared with his new friend who also gave them the thumbs up.

The real win, however, took place last week when he called and requested a batch of "those" brownies for a camping trip he and his female friend were planning together. I was honored to obliged and knew I had won over his palate.

As there is a natural progression for relationships, there is also a brownie evolution. Like the starry-eyed beginning of a romantic relationship, it is hoped that our relationship with brownies can transition from the gluttonous, super sugary ones we ate with abandon when we were young to the gluten-free brownies we ate in our 30's to the paleo varieties we subsequently morphed into and now this version that is made with a protein and fiber packed garbanzo flour. (Because we all need more protein and fiber in our lives.)

Wherever you are in the path of your relationship or brownie evolution, you will definitely want to make room for these brownies in your life. You might even be able to tempt and tantalize your friends with them when you need to score brownie points.

Buen provecho!
Garbanzo Flour Brownies
The Cowgirl Gourmet

Print recipe

Brownies. These are not your traditional brownies filled with butter, sugar and flour. No, sir. These are brownies that happen to have protein and fiber and promise to quell the doubts of even the most tenacious pastry queens and brownie snobs.

Makes 16 brownies

1 1/4 cup garbanzo bean flour
1/4 cup cocoa
1/2 cup coconut sugar
3 pastured eggs
2 tablespoons coconut oil (if you don't want the coconut flavor, use refined; otherwise, unrefined)
1/4 cup milk of choice (whole, almond, coconut, macadamia, hemp, etc.)
2 tablespoons coffee (leftover from the morning)
2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste or pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of sea salt (I like to use pink Himalayan salt)
3/4 cup chocolate chips, melted (I use the Enjoy Life brand which are soy-free, vegan and nut-free)
1/4 cup chocolate chips, for garnish before baking
1/4 cup chopped nuts, for garnish before baking, if desired

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line an 8x8 glass pan with parchment paper and set aside.

In a food processor or a big bowl with a hand mixer, mix together the dry ingredients including garbanzo flour, cocoa and coconut sugar. Add the wet ingredients--eggs, coconut oil, milk, coffee and vanilla and process until blended.
In a glass measuring cup or bowl, melt the chocolate chips in the microwave until smooth. In :10 second increments, stir after :30 seconds and the chocolate is likely almost melted at this point.

When the chocolate is melted, add it to the food processor and pulse to combine. Add in the pinch of salt and baking powder and process again to blend thoroughly.
Using a spatula, pour the batter into the parchment lined baking pan and spread batter so it is even. Sprinkle the remaining 1/4 cup of chips on top and then sprinkle the chopped nuts, if using.
Place in the oven and bake for exactly 30 minutes or until a toothpick in the center comes out mostly clean. It is better to under cook these brownies rather than overcook them...

When the brownies are done, remove from the oven and let cool one hour.
Slice into 16 squares and share with friends and family. Reserve any leftovers in the fridge or pop some into the freezer for another day when you need to score brownie points.

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