What do you get when you cross a five pound tub of protein powder with an impending 36-hour house arrest due to black ice and subzero temperatures?
A chocolate peanut butter protein brownie of the gods.
When I started Crossfit, I switched to whey protein powder (from my usual hemp). I wanted to cut back on the large quantities of fruit I was putting into my morning smoothies, and whey has always been my favorite tasting powder. (I try to avoid dairy/casein because I love my cow friends and hate the factory farming that brings dairy to my door, but it’s doggone hard to get enough protein without it unless I’m dedicated to cooking at home – which right now, I don’t have time for). I ordered a 5# tub of chocolate whey protein powder, and yowza! That’s a big tub of protein powder.
After eating too much cheesecake last weekend (and in the cheesecake-hangover week that followed), I’ve had cake-like things on my mind. So at lunch today, I found myself googling around for protein brownie recipes. Somebody has got to have figured this out by now, right? Well, unsurprisingly, there are quite a few recipes out there in the wild – but none of them looked quite like the brownie of my dreams. Most looked a bit dry.
So I took it upon myself to mash up a few different recipes. I also used this opportunity to try something I’ve wanted to test out for some time now – black beans in baked goods. (So, no, this recipe isn’t Paleo-friendly if you’re avoiding beans. It could be gluten free if you use gluten free oat flour or make your own oat flour from gluten free oats).
I am definitely not a natural in the kitchen, so I was fully prepared for this recipe to flop. Imagine my surprise when I took this gooey, peanut buttery, chocolatey amazingness out of the oven. It smelled so good and tasted amazing! It is truly not far off from the insane, sugary dessert of your dreams – minus most of the sugar. The macro profile is, dare I say, fantastic for a brownie, and it rivals my typical breakfast protein smoothie.
Some details on my version:
- I used Optimum Nutrition 100% Whey Gold Standard protein powder in Chocolate.
- I used homemade almond milk, unstrained. (For a full batch: 1 cup raw almonds, 4 cups water, 2 minutes in the on high. Enjoy!) You could swap any dairy or non-dairy milk. My version is a little more caloric than commercial almond milk, but has 5x the protein and all of the nutrition of the whole nuts, with no chemicals or other junk.
- I used a whole cup of peanut butter chips, because I am obsessed with peanut butter. A normal person would probably use 1/4 to 1/2 cup.
- I used 2 tbsp agave, because the batter after 1 tbsp was just a little too bitter from the cocoa. These are not super-sweet – just a little sweet. You could opt to sweeten them with honey or stevia or whatever else you like – just be sure to adjust the amounts. (Stevia, for example, is a bit sweeter than agave, so you’d want to use less).
- 1 cup of black beans is about 2/3 of a standard can (about 200g). I was tempted to use the whole can for convenience’s sake, but I was winging it as it was, so I didn’t want to get too frisky.
- The coconut oil can probably be eliminated, but I wanted it in there, because – coconut oil. Don’t hate.
- Most people could probably cut the pan into 12-15 smaller brownies, but I am not most people. Big honkin brownie get in mah belleh! I cut the pan into 9 good-sized brownies – big enough to be a quick breakfast or lunch (as opposed to snack-sized). (Besides, cutting an uneven balance of rows and columns into a square pan would not sit well with my obsessive-compulsive tendencies).
- The can of black beans I used that expired 3 months ago tasted fine and hasn’t killed me yet.
Here are the nutrition facts, based on my version described above:
- 20g protein, 29g carb (14g sugar, 4g fiber), 13g fat
Most similar recipes recommended storing these in the fridge, so I’ve put mine into an airtight container in the refrigerator – but they were definitely tasty warm and fresh from the oven.
Without further adieu, here’s the recipe. Enjoy!
Chocolate Peanut Butter Protein Brownies
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Ingredients (Serves 9-12)
- 1 tbsp baking powder
- 1/4 cup oat flour
- 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 cup whey protein powder (chocolate or vanilla)
- 1 cup peanut butter chips (or less, if you’re less obsessed with pb)
- 1 cup black beans (cooked and drained)
- 1/3 cup almond milk (or other dairy or non-dairy milk)
- 1/2 cup unsweetened apple sauce
- 1 egg (or 2 egg whites)
- 2 tbsp agave nectar (or other sweetener, to taste)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 tbsp coconut oil
- Preheat oven to 350F. Spray an 8×8 inch baking pan with nonstick cooking spray.
- Whisk together all dry ingredients except for the peanut butter chips. Set aside.
- Melt coconut oil (about 30 seconds in the microwave).
- In a food processor or blender, mix the wet ingredients (including the melted coconut oil) until smooth, about 1 minute.
- Pour the wet ingredients into the dry.
- Stir until well combined.
- Fold in peanut butter chips.
- Pour batter into baking pan.
- Bake for 22-26 minutes, or until top has set and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
- Cool completely, then cut into 9-12 squares.
Store covered in the refrigerator.