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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Sneaky Bean Treats

Every few months I get so fed up with my picky-eating kids that I go hunting for new ideas. The thing is, for every "kid-friendly" recipe out there, there are some kids that will love it. The kids in my house like about 25% of the new things I put in front of them, but of course I never know which 25% they'll go for, so I have to suck it up and accept my odds. Usually that means the path of least resistance, but sometimes I do branch out and give something new a shot, hoping against hope they'll take a bite and smile.

Along the way I've accumulated a small collection of kid-food cookbooks. The other day I took The Toddler Cafe off the shelf, seeking inspiration for an afternoon snack. I think its claim - "Fast, Healthy and Fun Ways to Feed Even the Pickiest Eater" - is a bit over-confident, but it does have some yummy stuff and clever ideas in there. And the design, layout and pictures are beyond fabulous.

So I took their recipe for Toddler Truffles - little sweet balls made from a black bean based cake, tweaked it a little to fit my taste and pantry contents, and voila! Sneaky Bean Treats! They're awesome; in fact, they turned out more goody and less snack than I expected - basically like brownie balls - so I decided to serve sliced apples for a snack and save these babies for after-dinner dessert!

1 (15 oz.) can black, white or pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1/3 cup finely ground nuts
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
4 T butter, room temperature
1/2 tsp baking powder
Pinch of kosher salt
2 eggs
2 tsp orange zest, optional
Powdered sugar, for dusting

1. Preheat oven to 350. Spray an 8x8 inch pan; set aside.

2. In a food processor, combine beans, nuts and cocoa powder. If your processor is big enough, mix the whole batter in there. If not (mine is small), use an electric mixer for the rest. Add butter, sugar and brown sugar; beat to combine. When fully blended, add the eggs and zest, if using, and blend. Pour mixture into prepared pan.

3. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, until firm and edges are slightly crisp. Baking time will depend on oven and type of bean used so start checking at 35 minutes. Cool and cut into small cubes or take a spoonful and carefully roll into small balls in your palms. Dust with powdered sugar. Freeze for a frozen treat or store covered up to 5 days in refrigerator. Makes about 24 balls.

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