Chocolate and Black Beans – Original or Common?

You may be starting to sense a chocolate theme in my recent posts. Well, this fascination with chocolate all started two weeks ago when my husband Kevin and I went to dinner at Victor Restaurant here in Toronto. The restaurant offers an Iron Chef dinner option, where you select a feature ingredient and they prepare a five-course dinner battle around that ingredient. Each chef or cook in the Victor Kitchen prepares a different course and you rank each of the courses based on four criteria. At the end of the meal, you tally up your scores and the chef or cook’s dish with the highest ranking wins. Doesn’t that sound fun?

So it’ll come as no surprise that we chose chocolate as our theme ingredient. That’s right—five glorious courses each prepared with chocolate in some shape or fashion. I’m going to summarize each of the dishes at the end of this post, but I want to start by telling you about our first course and how it inspired today’s recipe.

We started with: Chocolate Soup with Black Bean Salsa, topped with Crispy Pumpkin Seeds, Cilantro and Crispy Pork Belly and Tortilla Strips. As we tasted the delicious soup, Kevin started to work on his rankings and I have to say he was taking it all very seriously. When he got to the “how original or authentic was the dish” category, he started to talk about how the flavours were the same as my chili (which has a bit of chocolate in it) so he felt it wasn’t that original. I countered that it was in fact original for a savory chocolate soup to have those same flavours. Out came his BlackBerry, followed by a Google search on “chocolate and beans.” Well, this resulted in hundreds of black bean brownie recipes—but no chocolate and black bean soup recipes. In the end, Kevin still felt it wasn’t that original because obviously the chocolate and black bean combination was pretty popular in the form of brownies. So tell me, what do you think? Was this an authentic/original dish—or a common one? Which one of us was right?

I decided on the spot that I would make a Black Bean Brownie recipe for you as a tribute to this amazing dinner and our lively dinner debate. I whipped up a batch right away, altering the recipe a bit as I went along. The brownies were super easy to make and surprisingly tasty. The ponytails didn’t suspect for a minute that the brownies were made with beans. There you have it—flourless Chocolate Black Bean Brownies! Who knew? (Apparently the hundreds of people who have blogged about black bean brownies…)

Black Bean Brownies

Adapted from (Canada) by Elizabeth

  • 1 15.5 ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 tbsp canola oil
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder, sifted
  • Pinch salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ¾ cup white sugar
  • 1 tsp instant coffee (optional)
  • ½ cup chocolate chips (I used milk and white chocolate swirl chips)


1. Preheat oven to 350°.

2. Lightly grease an 8” x 8” square baking dish.

3. Combine all ingredients except chocolate chips in a blender and blend until smooth.

4. Pour mixture into prepared baking dish.

5. Sprinkle chocolate chips evenly over the top of dish.

6. Bake in preheated oven until top is dry and edges start to pull away from the sides of the pan, about 30 minutes.

Victor Restaurant (at Hotel Le Germain, Toronto)

Iron Chef Dinner — Theme Ingredient: Chocolate

Dish 1:   Chocolate Soup with Black Bean Salsa, topped with Crispy Pumpkin Seeds, Cilantro and Crispy Pork Belly and Tortilla Strips (Total score 34 out of 40; each of us could award up to 20 points, with up to 5 points in 4 categories)

Dish 2:   Lobster and Scallops with White Chocolate Velouté in Puff Pastry (Total score 40 out of 40; THE WINNER of the Challenge; prepared by the Salad Cook and apparently his 1st win!)

Dish 3:   Duck and Soba Noodles, with Chocolate, Mushrooms and Bacon in a Cocoa Butter Sauce (Total score 33 out of 40)

Dish 4:   Organic Beef Tenderloin, White Chocolate Potatoes Purée, Spinach, Pickled Onion and Beets, with Cocoa Sauce drizzled on the side (Total score 38 out of 40)

Dish 5:   Flourless Chocolate Cake, Brandied Cherries, Chocolate Ice Cream, and Chocolate Truffles with Crushed Praline (Total score 33 out of 40)

Essentially Victor’s five chefs/cooks created this menu just for us, as we were the only ones in the restaurant participating in the Iron Chef dinner that night. It was an absolutely unique and delicious dining experience that we both LOVED. I highly recommend the Iron Chef Dinner Challenge at Victor Restaurant. However, you must book your Iron Chef dinner well in advance when you provide them with your theme ingredient. It was $80 per person for the meal, and $40 per person for the wine pairings.


20 Comments on “Chocolate and Black Beans – Original or Common?”

  1. Love the idea of black bean brownies. I will definitely try this one out. Did you know that yesterday was National Have a Brownie Day? I think the world would be a happier place if that was everyday.

  2. Eva Taylor says:

    Great review of Victor, Barb; I am so pumped to go…perhaps in June to celebrate yours and JT’s birthdays? I think I’ll make this brownie as our valentine’s dessert tomorrow evening. Now whether chocolate and beans are an original pairing…I’ll have to side with Kevin on this one. Did you know that most baking powders also contain gluten? I did not know that, until I saw gluten free baking powder at my local health food store. Go figure.

    • June could work — let me check with the boss!!! Let me know how you like the brownies if you make them. I’m getting a little suspicious….first the Daniel Craig comments and now you’re siding with him too! I didn’t know that baking powders contain gluten… could easily leave out the baking powder, because I added it in to make them a little more “cakey” and brownie like!

  3. Loved the brownies and am sharing on my blog today.
    Thanks for sharing the love.

  4. Sissi says:

    Barb, maybe I’m completely ignorant, but since I have never tasted or made black beans with chocolate (in any form), I find this combination extremely original and it sounds really appetising (which is not the case of all the crazy combinations chefs come out with), so congratulations for these brownies! They might be the first recipe I make with black beans (I haven’t mentioned actually I have never cooked black beans, which are however widely available here).
    I envy you so much this dinner! I wish any of the restaurants here organised something like this. I have no idea what I would choose though.

    • This would be a good first black bean recipe for you Sissi! The brownies were so easy to make and very tasty. You never know, maybe one of your local restaurants will start their own Iron Chef Challenge. I’ll keep my fingers crossed for you, as it really is a lot of fun!!!

  5. I use chocolate and black beans in my chili, so a soup totally makes sense. I’d never thought about how that would translate into a brownie even though I’ve heard of them before. Your post is making me consider the possibilities…and I like that the discriminating ponytails couldn’t tell there were black beans in there!

  6. Ann says:

    I have to say the black beans in brownies is something I’ve heard of….but not black bean soup! I would go with a split decision on that one.

    The idea of the meal is FABULOUS! I would LOVE to go to something like that and the price (for what you get) is terrific!

    If you go again – I’d LOVE to see pictures of what they made! What a delightful, FUN post! Happy Valentines Day!

    • Ann, you know I’ve been kicking myself that I didn’t take any photos. i didn’t set out to write a review….I just couldn’t resist after such a creative and fun experience! Happy Valentines Day to you too….even though there are not many hours left to enjoy!

  7. Charles says:

    “It was $80 per person for the meal”

    Wow – bargain… I was thinking it would be significantly more expensive than that – the menu in the restaurant sounds fantastic – I bet you felt nicely chocolated out afterwards! Must be a lot of fun partaking in that – I’d like to give them something really “fun”, like cucumber as a theme 😀

    Loving the look of your brownies Barb – so rich!

    • Charles, I agree with you. We felt it was a reasonable price considering all of the effort that went into it. Apparently the salad chef spent two days planning his winning dish. I love the fact that the staff got so into it and really seemed to have fun too. All of that just for the two of us — amazing!!!

  8. Hi Barb…
    I’ve SO loved every post of your blog I’ve read so far… I love them all.. your recipes and experiences are just so amazing! 😀 I’ve signed up to stay tuned… I totally adore your blog name, too! 😀

    Hope to catch you around, too 🙂 ♥

    • Well, Fati you have just made my day. It means a lot coming from another blogger, so a big thank you! I recognize your name from Charles’ blog. I will definitely have to drop by for a visit and see what’s been cooking in your kitchen. If I recall correctly, you also won one of the giveaways from Charles. Nice to meet you!

  9. hotlyspiced says:

    That does sound like enormous fun but I sure wouldn’t want to be one of those chefs – imagine the pressure!

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