One fateful day, I learned that I could replace vegetable oil with applesauce in brownies, and life was never the same. This simple switch blew my mind, and I just had to try it out. Ever since that first batch of oil-free brownies, I’ve been putting applesauce into unusual places, with the most delicious results. If you read my oil-free cooking article, then you know that all oils pack a pretty big calorie punch with 120 calories per tablespoon, all of which come from fat. Applesauce, on the other hand, only has 6.25 calories per tablespoon and no fat!
If you’re new to oil-free baking, I definitely recommend starting off with a simple brownie recipe like this one. It’s a simple 1 to 1 substitution, so you really can’t mess it up. Applesauce also works as a great oil substitute in cakes, muffins, and sweet breads. You can even use it with pre-made mixes, and it works just as well.
Since I’m well-acquainted with the applesauce trick, I decided to get a little ambitious with my brownie recipe. If you think substituting applesauce for oil is crazy, you’re really going to freak out about brownies made from black beans. I hijacked Chocolate Covered Katie’s black bean brownies recipe and put my own little oil-free twist on it. (Did I out-healthy the healthy dessert queen? Maybe just this once…) And now you can too!
1 can 15 oz black beans
2 tbsp cocoa powder
1/2 cup oats (Quick oats are preferred, but I used rolled oats, and they were fine.)
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 cup agave syrup or maple syrup
2 packets of stevia or 2 tbsp sugar (I used stevia.)
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup vegan chocolate chips
The original recipe advises to put everything in a food processor, although a blender will work. My mini Cuisinart was way too small for the job, so I used my Vitamix. If you’re going to use a blender, I recommend blending the oats first to make oat flour. Then add the rest of the dry ingredients and blend again.
Only then should you add the wet ingredients (including the black beans), and then blend until it all comes together. You may have to stop the blender a few times to mix things and push the batter down on the sides, but you will still be able to get a smooth consistency.
Once the batter is ready, grease a 8 x 8 pan (okay, so you have to use a little oil here, but it hardly counts!), and dish the batter into it.
(Or if you’re me and don’t have an 8 x 8 pan, half of a 9.5 x 13.5 pan.)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and bake for 15-18 minutes. My brownies were done after 15 minutes, so I recommend doing that first and checking on the consistency.
Ta-da! Oil-free and black bean brownies!
Now that you know my favorite trick to oil-free baking, try it out with some of your favorite recipes and let me know how it goes! I’m always looking for new oil-free baking recipes, so feel free to share your best ones in the comments!