Wonderful Fat-Free Vegan Chocolate Black Bean Brownies with Iced Vanilla Cashew Cream and Fresh Strawberry Sauce

These brownies are rich, moist and chewy.  They are also vegan and virtually fat-free!  They are quite possibly the world’s healthiest, yet still scrumptious brownie!  The black beans provide binding and substance (sort of like egg and flour), while providing protein and fiber.

Serve these brownies alone with a little sprinkle of powdered sugar or, if you really want to impress, top with Iced Vanilla Cashew Cream and Fresh Strawberry Sauce for a show-stopping ending to any meal.  Your family or friends will never guess this decadent dessert is actually good for them!

P.S.  If serving with powdered sugar, sprinkle each square just before serving.  If sprinkled on ahead of time, the moisture in the brownies will seep into the powdered sugar and make the top of the brownies look gummy.

Makes 12 rectangles


1 (15 ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 1/2 cups pure maple syrup

2 tablespoons ground flax seeds

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1/2 cup organic fair trade cocoa powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt

3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour

Serve with Iced Vanilla Cashew Cream & Fresh Strawberry Sauce (optional)

Garnish with fresh mint; dust rim of plate with powdered sugar and/or cocoa powder (optional)

1.  Preheat oven to 350F.  Line an 8×8” pan with parchment paper and allow about 1” of the paper to hang out on each side.  Spray with a little non-stick cooking spray.  This will allow you to lift the brownies out of the pan once they cool.
2.  Place black beans and maple syrup in a food processor and puree until very smooth.

3.  Add the flax seeds, vanilla, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt and pulse to combine.

4.  Add the flour and pulse until just until barely combined, scraping the sides as needed.  Do not over mix.
5.  Pour into prepared pan.
6.  Bake approximately 30 minutes or until center is no longer jiggley when shaken gently and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out almost clean.

7.  Allow to cool completely before slicing.  Cut into 12 small rectangles.

8.  Top with a scoop of Iced Vanilla Cashew Cream and drizzle with Fresh Strawberry Sauce  (see recipes, below).

Recipe by Emily Barth Webber, 2009.

Iced Vanilla Cashew Cream

This dairy-free ice cream is very rich, creamy and delicious.  It’s super-easy to make with only a blender and an ice cream maker.  The ingredients are very healthful.  Once you make it one time, you’ll become a homemade ice cream addict and because you can have it dairy-free and cholesterol-free, why not?

Cashews are a good source of plant protein and contain omega 3 and 6 fatty acids as well as essential minerals including manganese, phosphorus, zinc and copper.


1 cup raw cashews

1 cup yellow summer squash, steamed until tender (about 5-7 minutes)

1-1 ½ cups filtered or spring water

¾ cup pure maple syrup

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1 vanilla bean


  1. Place cashews and squash in blender and add about half of the water.  Blend until creamy and smooth. Add in the rest of the water, the maple syrup and the vanilla extract.  Cut the vanilla bean in half lengthwise and scrape out the seeds.  Place the seeds in the blender.
  2. Blend for another minute or two until silky smooth and the consistency of heavy cream.
  3. Pour into ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer’s instructions.

Note: Save the leftover vanilla pod.  You can put the pod in a jar of sugar to make vanilla flavored sugar or add it to a bottle of vodka to make vanilla vodka.

Recipe by Emily Barth Webber, 2009.


Fresh Strawberry Sauce

Make this fresh, sweet syrup whenever strawberries are in season.  Drizzle it over ice cream, pancakes or French toast.  Substitute any seasonal fresh fruit for the strawberries including blueberries, peaches, kiwi and more!


2 cups fresh strawberries

¼ cup pure maple syrup (more or less as needed depending on sweetness of fruit)


Puree in blender until smooth.  Warm gently just until heated through if desired or serve as is.

Recipe by Emily Barth Webber, 2006.

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