Black beans and chocolate aren’t ingredients you would think would work together, but Amanda Forgione’s Black Bean Brownies are a real treat.

The Clarks Summit resident, along with her husband, Franco, stay active and eat healthy. When she was looking for dairy-free recipes, Forgione stumbled upon one for brownies made with black beans. She made a few changes to suit her tastes, and it quickly became her go-to recipe for something sweet to take to parties or for her own family, including sons, Roman, 3, and Carmen, 1.

“I’ve brought them to family parties before, and no one knew they weren’t typical brownies,” she said. “They’re a good consistency, and I think that’s a big part of it.”

The recipe — which earned Forgione a gift card to Riccardo’s Market, 1219 Wheeler Ave., Dunmore — is simple, and its required food processor and baking pan make for very little cleanup afterward. While she cut back on the amount of honey in the recipe, Forgione noted that bakers can adjust the sweetness level to their own tastes or add more chocolate chips if they’re looking for something more decadent.

Forgione said the recipe can serve as the starting point for more elaborate treats as well. Bakers can add some mint extract and sprinkle crushed up candy canes on top to create mint chocolate chip brownies at Christmastime or decorate them with orange icing or pastel candies for an Easter dessert.

“This is the perfect brownie base,” she said. “What you can do with this is up to you, but this is a nice alternative for those who maybe can’t have dairy or are trying to cut back.”

Local Flavor never knew a black bean could be the perfect ingredient in a brownie. The dessert was soft and chewy with rich chocolate chips in every bite. And, thankfully, eating more than one was a nearly guilt-free choice.

Forgione’s prowess in the kitchen runs in the family. Her mom, Maria Szewczyk, is a fabulous cook known for her from-scratch Italian delicacies such as homemade sauce and Chicken Parmesan with prosciutto and spinach. Every Christmas and Easter for as far back as Forgione can remember, she made homemade ravioli with her mom and aunt, and it’s still a tradition they carry on each Christmas.

In her own home, Forgione makes everything from Chicken Marsala to Turkey Meatballs to quinoa-based dishes with whatever she has on hand, such as peppers, beans, olives, cheese and dressing. A science teacher for Mid Valley School District, she relies on her pressure cooker for quick, one-pot meals on weeknights and also will roast a pot of vegetables on Sunday night to go with that week’s dinners.

Though she has two young boys, Forgione said they’re not picky eaters and eat whatever their mom and dad are having. They also hang out with mom in the kitchen and help with what they can. No matter what dinner may be, the Forgiones know that living healthy doesn’t mean sacrificing taste.

“We exercise, we try to stay healthy and we like to eat healthy, too,” she said. “It’s about balance.”


Amanda Forgione’s Black Bean Brownies

1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed
2 large eggs
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/4 cup honey
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of salt
1 cup chocolate chips, divided

Preheat over to 350 F.
Place all ingredients, except for chocolate chips, in blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Stir in 1/2 cup chocolate chips. Pour into greased 8-inch-by-8-inch baking sheet and top with 1/2 cup chocolate chips. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean.