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 Allrecipies.com (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.