Most things - day-to-day activities, commitments, etc. - I do with purpose. I'm in school (read: drowning in assignments) because I value my education, enjoy what I'm learning, and plan to use that information somehow, someway, someday. I spend time with my friends because I L O V E them and don't like to think about life without them. I stay in for the majority of my Friday nights because I would rather read and lay on the couch than dance my way through crowds with a drink in my hand. I wake up early in the morning because I can't find any time of day I cherish more or during which I feel more peace. I bake and blog because I treasure my passion for those and hope to inspire the same thing in others.
Yesterday, I baked cookies and, today, brownies - both came out of a boxed mix. Granted, the mix was all organic and made with simple ingredients like the ones my recipes call for. Nonetheless, I baked from a box of pre-mixed flour and sugar. I asked myself why a million times and couldn't formulate what felt like a legitimate-enough answer for my "standards" (whatever those are). A million other things I could've been doing - studying, planning recipes, grocery shopping, organizing my messy room, etc. - battled each other in my mind.
It's not that baking these out-of-a-box cookies and brownies is pointless. I'll eat them and enjoy them and share them with others who I know will do the same (and probably not even think twice about the fact that they came essentially from a box). And, if anything, I'll take a study-break just about whenever and however it comes to me!
So, if baking from a box isn't typical, how can I find baking with black beans not really worthy of questioning? That's a grrrrrrreat question, Haley. If you've ever had good black bean brownies, I hope you're answering the why-black-bean-brownies question by convincing the questioner of the unpredictably fudgy, rich texture due mainly to the undetectable presence of black beans (and extra protein and fiber - yay!). For those who haven't yet been pleasantly surprised by good black bean brownies, keep reading and definitely add this recipe to your to-do list. Disappointment 100% UNgauaranteed, meaning you will be more than satisfied. You will love them.
I bake black bean brownies and buy each individual ingredient and make a mess in the kitchen because I love nerdy science-y baking and spending hours (okay, I exaggerated there, but you get the point) in the kitchen. Again, there is purpose.
BUT. There is always a but (and a butt). Every once a while - every once in a great while - I really debate whether or not I truly want to be in/am meant to be in school. I would rather spend time alone all day than with my friends. I go out on Friday nights and I have one-too-many drinks. I sleep in past the sunrise and miss out on my favorite time of day in favor of an extra hour spent sleeping. And those things just... happen. Which is probably because of that thing called "balance".
Because I know you're wondering - the cookies and brownies from the boxed mixes are phenomenal. Like, far above and beyond my expectations. They're from Foodstirs! Bake from scratch and live it up in your kitchen. Prioritize activities and habits and routines that light you up and make you smile r e a l l y big. But also bake from quality boxed mixes and still live it up in the kitchen. Get out of your house and out of your comfort zone and routine and live that up, too. You can probably find purpose in all of it.
Makes about 9 brownies
1 15-oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
2 tbsp. coconut oil, plus more for greasing
1/2 cup melted and cooled dark chocolate
1/4 cup oat flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 flax egg
1/2 tsp. baking soda
5-6 vegan caramel candies, halved (I love JJ's Cocomels)
dark chocolate chunks, for topping
sea salt, for topping
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and lightly coat an 8x8 baking pan with oil (or butter, if not vegan).
In a high-powered blender or food processor, toss the black beans, coconut oil, and dark chocolate. Blend until smooth, then add the flour, sugar, flax egg, and baking soda. Pulse until just combined.
Transfer the batter to the 8x8 baking pan and bake for 20-22 minutes. Sprinkle the caramel pieces and dark chocolate chunks over the top bake for an additional 1-2 minutes. If a toothpick comes out clean, remove the brownies from the oven and cool before serving. Sprinkle with sea salt.