I have lived outside of the US since 2005. I’ve lived and worked in India, Afghanistan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Switzerland, and now, Cambodia. (How I arrived in Southeast Asia is a long story, but the short version is that my husband and I started an international school here.)
As I moved around the globe, the food culture of each country in which I lived influenced me. In Afghanistan, I got into a habit of drinking green tea at the office, and munching on yellow raisins and nuts, as that’s what my Afghan colleagues did. In Switzerland, I ate chocolate every day and made soup out of celery root, because these popular foods were readily available at local grocery stores.
Cambodia, too, has also changed the way I eat and think about food. I now center my meals around rice and noodles, and living here also introduced me to the idea of beans in dessert.
Across Asia, beans in sweet foods are common, and I have come to love the combination. Beans are included in coconut milk popsicles, in tapioca puddings, in rice cakes, and so on. Beans are filled with fiber and low in fat, and they increase the nutritional value of any dish, including desserts.
My first contact of beans in sweets was bean puree inside vegan mooncakes — round pastries that are filled with sweet bean paste, a delicacy commonly served throughout Asia during the Mid-Autumn Festival. These delicious treats are have become an annual highlight for me.
Inspired, I wanted to “borrow” this idea and add beans to hamantaschen, the triangle-shaped cookies that Jews typically eat on Purim, which this year begins on the evening of February 28. For me, eating hamantaschen is often followed, a few hours later, by an steep energy drop and sugar-induced grumpiness. By swapping the typically fillings — such as apricot jam or sweet poppy-seed paste — with a bean-filled one, I figured I could up the amount of protein and therefore balance the super-sweet cookie.
The chocolate-black bean filling is the highlight in these plant-based, high-protein hamantaschen. The other unique element in this recipe: I’ve educed the amount of oil so it is not as heavy. This healthier cookie is delicious, and the chocolate bean filling is so yummy, that you might find yourself eating the filling by the spoonful. You might want to make a double batch and eat it with toast for breakfast or a guilt-free afternoon snack.
High Protein Brownie Hamantaschen
Yield: Approximately 30 cookies
medium mixing bowl
large mixing bowl
wooden spoon or electric mixer
3-inch round cookie cutter (or you can use the rim of a glass)
small mesh strainer for sprinkling
Food processor or blender
2 tablespoons arrowroot flour
3 tablespoons unsweetened low-fat non-dairy
milk (or water)
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour OR gluten-free baking mix (such as Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free All Purpose Baking Flour)
1 teaspoon aluminum-free baking powder
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup virgin coconut oil, softened (check the bottle to make sure it can be heated to 350 F)
1/2 cup organic cane sugar
1 teaspoon fresh orange zest
1/4 cup orange juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 ½ cups black beans
¼ cups natural cane sugar
3 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
Pinch of salt
1tsp canola oil or coconut oil
1/4 cup powdered sugar
-Preheat the oven to 350 F
In a small bowl:
-Combine the arrowroot flour and the milk. Mix well with a fork or small whisk until smooth.
Prepare the dry mixture:
-In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt, and set aside.
Prepare the wet mixture:
-In a large bowl, cream the coconut oil and sugar together with the orange zest. You can do so by hand or with an electric mixer.
-Add the arrowroot mixture and mix with a wooden spoon to combine.
-Add the juice and extract, and mix until combined.
Combine the two mixtures to form the dough:
-Add the dry mixture to the wet, and stir to combine. Be careful to not over mix.
-You can work with the dough right away or chill it in the refrigerator for 20 to 30 minutes (but no longer or it will get too firm).
Meanwhile, prepare the filling:
-Using a food processor or a blender, combine black beans, natural cane sugar, unsweetened cocoa powder, pinch of salt and canola oil/coconut oil. Bend well and set aside.
Form the cookies and bake:
-Roll out the dough between two sheets of parchment paper, to 1/8-inch thickness (you can do this in two batches if you wish).
-Lightly flour the parchment paper or dough, if the dough is sticking.
-Use a 3-inch round cookie cutter or the rim of a glass, cut circles from the rolled dough.
-Using a spatula, carefully transfer the circles to the baking sheet.
-Place a teaspoon of high protein brownie filling in the center of each circle.
-Carefully form three sides with the dough and fold them over to create a triangle. Pinch the corners tightly (like you mean it). Repeat with the remaining circles of dough.
-Bake for 20 minutes, then remove from the oven.
-Cool cookies on a cooling rack.
Once completely cooled:
-Garnish with a sprinkling of powdered sugar, if desired, before serving.