Black Bean Brownie Cheesecakes

Potlucks are great. They are best when everyone participates, of course. You can't show up empty handed and get to eat on the first go around. And no one likes the guy who signs up to bring plates. No one.

It's significantly more fun when people bring recipes dear to them. At this particular one, a colleague brought in a very unique Russian salad that was unlike any salad I'd ever tried. Another made hot chicken and pasta which was just mind blowing (seriously, spicy fried chicken = *drool*).



As everyone has been trying to eat better this year, I am back on track with my plan to find/create healthy versions for as many of my favorite bad-for-you type foods as I can. I lovingly welcomed Buffalo Tofu into my recipe box. Spinach Pasta joined the meal option gang. And of course, there is the dominating champ: Spaghetti Squash Pizza Crust.

Desserts can be a little tougher. Chocolate, sugar, and flour don't always make the leanest treats. But there is always another way, and experimenting until I find that alternate route is right up my alley.

Coming up with a potluck choice was the first challenge, though. It was decided on my behalf that I would be bringing a sweet choice, and believe me when I tell you that is fine by me. My kitchen and I hadn't spent much time together in a while, so I was feeling clingy. We needed some quality alone time. That's important in any relationship, you know.

I polled a few people for ideas and one suggestion from the box was Brownie Batter Cheesecakes. Say no more. Don't you dare throw brownies and cheesecake together and think for a second I won't slam on the brakes. DECISION MADE.

But then the healthy thought crept in my mind, like one of those cartoon burglars with the black and white striped shirt and bandit mask. Hamburglar was sneaking in with a side idea: hey, why not try making one of the black bean brownie recipes you've had sitting on your to do list for what feels like an eternity? It was all falling into place like an Agatha Christie novel.

Yes, it sounds utterly ridiculous. Brownies and chocolate swirling together could occur in a few different situations, most of which are inappropriate to discuss on a cooking blog. The flavors are just so different! Don't let yourself get duped by fear, my friend.

I always keep black beans nearby because you just can't predict when life is going to call for chili. Or tacos. To start, one can of beans was rinsed thoroughly, until the water ran clear.


The recipe I was working off of called for the use of cocoa powder, but I wanted to get a little fancier and throw some dark chocolate in the mix. It was just me and a grater for this part, not because I wanted to tell everyone my elegant recipe featured only the best in hand grated chocolate, though that does sound good. I wanted to ensure the chocolate was mixed thoroughly and evenly throughout, rather then in chunks.

I have to tell you, freezing the chocolate first is a step you will not regret. Hands are warm, and chocolate does one thing when it gets warm. Need I say more?


Here's another one of those easy steps I love so much. Toss a bunch of crap in at once and bam! Everything but the chocolate chips went into my Ninja (use a food processor as an alternative) and blended until it looked like a pile of mush.


I scooped most of the batter into cupcake pans lined with papers and baked them for a little over 10 minutes.


The excess batter went into a smaller pie dish. As I was making thin layers and not filling each cupcake more than 1/5 of the way, there was plenty to go around.


Once they were finished, I followed a cheesecake recipe I had that done before with some Greek yogurt mixed in. After scooping the cheesecake batter over the brownie crusts, I baked them for about 18 more minutes.

LOOK AT THESE LIL' BEAUTIES!


My first thought upon trying one was, "Holy hell, this is what a black bean brownie tastes like?" This thought was, of course, immediately followed with me dancing around the kitchen in an act of both joy and shock, because, wow. You never would know these had beans in them. It's baffling, really. With the majority of the brownie mixture being black beans, it blew my mind that the flavor was so well disguised. Gotta love the power of chocolate.

The brownie and cheesecake flavors complemented each other very well, so thumbs up on brownie crusts in general. Well done, person who got obliterated enough to come up with that idea. I commend you.

When making these, don't be afraid to fill up the cupcake papers close to the top. I left some space, and these are not doing much in the way of rising, so you can go above the 3/4 full mark.

A few people at work knew my little bean secret (that sentence reads oddly but I didn't have the heart to delete it), but I kept it quiet for the ones that did not. People would take a bite and comment on how rich the flavor was. NO ONE KNEW A THING, until of course that giddy lady who was dancing around at home proclaimed that these were, in fact, bean brownies, and all this time while they were eating them ( approximately 30 seconds) and thought they were completely wrecking their diet was just a horrible joke. Instead they were only slightly injuring those perfect Weight Watchers points, because instead of sugar and flour bombs, they were delicious, protein and fiber loaded, flavor-rich brownies. The candid opinions were out and there was no turning back. Black bean brownie cheesecakes had taken the win.

Black Bean Brownie Cheesecakes

Ingredients:

For the black bean brownie base:
1 1/2 cups black beans (1 15-oz can, drained and rinsed)
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
4-6 ounces grated dark chocolate (70-90% cacao preferred)
1/2 cup quick cooking oats
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup honey or agave nectar (I used a mixture of both)
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup coconut oil
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 cup semi sweet chocolate chips

For the cheesecake:
2 packages cream cheese (8 ounces each - I used one regular cream cheese and one Neufch√Ętel)
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs

Instructions:

Begin with the brownie crust. Preheat oven to 350 F. Combine all ingredients except chips in a food processor, and blend until completely as smooth as possible. Stir in the chips and pulse 3-4 times to cut them slightly, then spoon into a cupcake pan with liners or pie dish. Bake for 13-15 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly. For the cheesecake, combine cream cheese, yogurt, sugar, and vanilla and beat until smooth. Mix in eggs. Pour batter over the brownie base and bake for 15-18 minutes, until the center is set. Top with grated chocolate, if desired.

Recipe made 24 cupcakes and a small pie.

adapted from black bean brownies
Cheesecake recipe from my Oreo Cheesecake Cupcakes recipe

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