So I’ve seen all the black bean brownies making their merry way around the food blogs, but I still haven’t come across a recipe that, despite the use of legumes, is all that virtuous. Yeah, throw some veggies into a batter of processed sugar and white flour! Hows about I deep-fry an apple? Or bacon-wrap some alfalfa sprouts? Um, no. This is precisely why I have not boarded that train.

If you’ve been around the My New Roots block, you’ll see I am a fan of baking with beans, as seen here and here. But never have I trumped myself to such an extent. I mean, these cookies take the cake, for sure.

Chocolate Chili Cherry Cookies are moist, rich, fudgy and filling, with just a tickle of spice that is oh-so unexpected and palette-warming-ly welcomed.

I added dried cherries to one batch because I had some on hand. This was also incredible. Optional, yet incredible. If you’re a purist, I’d stick with the giant, dark chunks of bitter chocolate heaven. Those who like sweet-sour burst will dig the fruit addition. Walnuts would also be amazing.

Basically, add whatever the heck you have in that pantry and you can’t lose. Maybe even deep-fried apple.

Black beans – a superfood? Really?
Although they may appear humble, black beans are holding a major secret – they are loaded with a rare combination of both protein and fiber. Unheard of!

Did you know that a one-cup serving of black beans contains 14 grams of protein – the same amount as a 2 oz. serving of a meat like chicken or a fish like salmon? And the 15 grams of fiber from that same one-cup serving is the equivalent of eating 3 cups of broccoli, 4 cups of Brussels sprouts, or 15 plums?

You won’t find this magical protein-fiber combination in fruit, vegetables, grains, meats, dairy products, nuts and seeds, or seafood. Not even close. And this explains why black beans are so incredibly good for your digestive tract, the blood sugar regulatory system and the cardiovascular system.

And if that weren’t enough, the skin of black beans contains a high amount of phytonutrients, called anthocyanins. To refresh your memory, anthocyanins are responsible for the deep reds, blues, purples, and magenta colours also found in blueberries, grapes and açaí, all of which we know to be powerful antioxidant-rich foods. These compounds decrease the risk of heart disease and cancer. They may also aid in the prevention of macular degeneration by protecting the eyes from free radical damage, increasing circulation and stabilizing collagen structures (which hold tissues together).

Talk about your underestimated legume! Protein, fiber, and powerful antioxidants – all wrapped up into a tasty little nugget for you to make dessert with. I mean, does it get any better? I think not.

You seriously will not believe how tasty these are. I am still in shock. Every time I take a bite I run around my kitchen in tiny circles, like a short-circuiting robot on flavour overdrive. It is a sight.

The fact that there are black beans in these cookies will completely fade from memory upon the first bite, which literally melts in your mouth. Children will be fooled, friends and relatives baffled. The bottom line is, they taste incredible in their own right. Then you mention they are made with beans and you become a healthy-cookie magician.

And did I mention how easy they are to make?! You just put everything in the food processor – not even a bowl to clean.

This recipe only makes about nine large cookies, which judging by their unbelievable richness should be plenty to satisfy your cocoa cravings for a couple days. However, if you’ve got a crowd on your hands, double up the ingredients for a bigger batch. Or be foolish, eat the whole first round in a sitting (Sarah B….) and be forced to make more first thing the next morning because you were too gluttonous to even photograph them. Ahem.

Moving on.

Black Bean Chocolate Chili Cherry Cookies

Makes nine 3” cookies

1 ½ cups black beans, very soft (or one 15 oz. can)
2 Tbsp. coconut oil (or ghee)
1/3 cup organic cocoa powder
1/4 tsp. coarse sea salt, plus more for sprinkling
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/3 cup maple syrup (or honey, agave)
2 Tbsp. chia seeds (or use 2 Tbsp. ground flax seeds OR 2 eggs)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/3 cup chopped dark chocolate (80% or higher)
1/4 cup chopped dried cherries (optional, or use dried cranberries)

1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. Mix chia seeds, maple syrup, and vanilla in a bowl and set aside. If using eggs, skip this step.

3. Place drained and well-rinsed beans, coconut oil, cocoa, salt and cayenne in a food processor and blend until well combined. Add maple syrup and chia mixture (or eggs) and pulse to incorporate. The batter will be quite liquid-y, but still hold together.  Remove blade from the food processor and add chopped chocolate and cherries. Fold to incorporate.

4. Spoon cookie batter onto lined baking sheet. Using the back of the spoon, flatten top of cookies slightly, as they will not spread when baking. Sprinkle with coarse sea salt (important!). Bake for 15 minutes until the edges are browning. Cool and eat. Store in the fridge.

Update: The armless wonder-husband is doing much better. These cookies definitely boosted morale around the house. Dare I even say motivated him to awkwardly lift a hand to his mouth?

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