These flourless peanut butter brownies are made with white beans and peanut butter, and just like black bean brownies, they don't taste at all like beans. Really! They don't even have any added oil or butter.
Baking with beans
If you're a longtime gluten free baker, you probably remember baking with garbanzo bean (chickpea) flour. Why did we do that? Chickpeas are delicious in a salad, lovely in hummus, but have no place in bread, cakes, and brownies.
But we've come a long, long way since then, and I was in no hurry to go back. So whoever was the first to develop a recipe for black bean brownies, I tip my hat to you! You went out on a limb, and it paid off.
My recipe for flourless black bean brownies is not only one of the most popular recipes on my blog, but it's a true family favorite. It tastes absolutely nothing like beans of any kind (trust me—I take that taste very, very seriously in baked goods), and just makes a really good, healthier brownie.
(If you are looking to indulge, though, you have to try my classic fudgy flourless brownies. They have just a few ingredients, and they're all the right/wrong ones everyone loves!)
When I bake treats that are lower in fat and calories, I generally stick to smooth applesauce as a substitute for fat. It has a really neutral flavor and adds some structure and plenty of moisture.
I haven't tried baking with white beans like the great northern white beans in this recipe as a substitute for fat in any of my other recipes. But I've been super curious about whether white beans could be paired with peanut butter to make a blonder version of my flourless black bean brownies. I'm happy to report that it was a total success! ?
Let's talk about the texture
Whenever someone asks me to make brownies for an occasion (it happens a lot!), I always ask them “what kind?” They look at me like I'm crazy, but brownies come in a million different textures: cakey, fudgy, chewy, you name it.
Since these brownies have no added fat beyond the egg yolks and the peanut butters, and they're made with white beans, the texture is cakey. If you'd like a truly fudgy peanut butter brownie, and you're fine baking with gluten free flour blends, I'd definitely go for my more traditional peanut butter brownies recipe.
How guilt-free are these brownies?
Well, generally I feel like if you're going to eat a treat, just eat a treat. I'm not looking to my brownies for nutrition. But if you can take a favorite treat and make it a little more virtuous so you can, say, eat it more often, then I'm all for that!
If you're following Weight Watchers and you plug this recipe into the calculator, you'll find that each of 12 brownies has 4 SmartPoints—if you use just 2 tablespoons of chocolate chips. More chips, more points.
I haven't calculated the nutrition information, but I suspect they're much higher in fiber (thank you, beans!) than pretty much any other brownie you'll find (except for perhaps my black bean brownies). And they really don't have a ton of sugar, with just over 100 grams in the entire batch.
Ingredients and substitutions
These flourless peanut butter brownies are already dairy-free, but they do rely upon peanut butter (of course), eggs, white beans and some sugar. Let's talk about those ingredients.
Peanut-free: The peanut butter could be replaced with almost any other nut butter, I'm sure. But the powdered peanut butter is another story, and I don't know of a replacement for it.
From the comments to my peanut butter gluten free banana bread recipe, though, it seems that peanut butter powder is pretty available outside the U.S. So that's good news!
Egg-free: There are two eggs in this recipe, which you might be able to replace with two “chia eggs” (for each, use 1 tablespoon ground chia seeds + 1 tablespoon lukewarm water, mix and allow to gel). You also could try one “chia egg” along with 50 grams of smooth applesauce. I haven’t tried either, though, so you’ll have to experiment.
White beans: I selected great northern white beans for this recipe because they have a relatively neutral flavor profile. They also tend to be slightly larger than other beans, with a thin skin. That makes them ideal for pureeing very smooth.
If you have another favorite type of white bean, try that. I don't recommend using black beans, as they will alter the color of the brownies. Plus, the other competing flavors (mostly peanut butter) aren't necessarily strong enough to overpower the taste of black beans.
Sugar-free: When you use only 1 cup of light brown sugar in this recipe, the brownies really aren't very sweet. They're very tender and moist, though. If you'd like to replace the brown sugar with an unrefined sugar, coconut palm sugar should work great as a 1:1 replacement.
If you'd like to make these brownies entirely sugar-free, you'll need to use a sugar-free peanut butter (be sure it's not the kind that separates, though). In place of the light brown sugar, you can try using your favorite brown sugar substitute. I tend to like Swerve brand non-sugar granulated sweeteners.
And you can leave out the chocolate chips, or use a sugar-free chocolate chip. I've heard good things about Lilly's brand, although I haven't tried them myself.
Flourless Peanut Butter Brownies
1 15-ounce can great northern white beans, drained and rinsed well
2 eggs (100 g, weighed out of shell), at room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup (48 g) powdered peanut butter
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup (109 g) packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup (64 g) smooth no-stir peanut butter
2 to 4 tablespoons (30 to 60 g) dark chocolate chips
Preheat your oven to 325°F. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper and set the pan aside.
In a blender or food processor, place the drained and rinsed beans, eggs, and vanilla, and blend or process until smooth. In a large bowl, place the powdered peanut butter, baking soda, salt and brown sugar, and whisk to combine well, breaking up any lumps in the brown sugar. Create a well in the center of the dry mixture and add the pureed bean mixture and peanut butter. Mix until well-combined. Add 1 to 3 tablespoons of the chocolate chips to the batter and mix to combine. The mixture will be thickly pourable. Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan and spread into an even layer. Sprinkle the remaining chocolate chips evenly on top of the batter, and shake the pan back and forth to help the chips adhere to the batter.
Place the baking pan in the center of the preheated oven and bake until the top springs back when pressed gently with a finger (about 22 minutes). Remove the pan from the oven, place it on a wire rack (still in the pan) and allow to cool until no longer hot to the touch. Remove from the pan and slice into squares with a sharp knife.