Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Proof is in the Pudding (Black Bean Brownies)

This week I had an encounter with the 'proof is in the pudding'.  I'll tell you more in a minute, but I want to set the background for this makes-no-sense proverb.  I mean really, what can be proved by looking in pudding? Or does it mean whiskey was added to the pudding?

Actually the phrase is a shortened version of 'the proof of the pudding is in the eating', meaning in order to fully test something you need to experience it for yourself.  According to   the earliest printed example of the proverb they could find is in William Camden's Remaines of a Greater Worke Concerning Britaine, 1605: "All the proof of a pudding is in the eating."

Now for my story.  Every Thursday my work place has a sit down coffee break where staff can enjoy refreshments and bat around any topic that comes up. It's one of the highlights of our week.  Each of us takes turns bringing snacks. One of my co-workers is on a gluten-free diet and we try to accomodate her needs by bringing something she can eat, too.  Being one to try new things and wanting to break out of the usual monster cookie or no-bake cookie selection, I decided to try a recipe I had read about online.  I gathered the ingredients from the Sav-a-Lot grocers on my way home from work and whipped up a batch of brownies, following the recipe carefully.  Gluten-free means no flour and this recipe replaced the standard wheat staple with of all things, BLACK BEANS!  The batter looked great, but the predominant smell wasn't chocolate as I poured it into the baking pan.  I kept hoping the Tex-Mex bean smell wafting from the oven would somehow dissipate and the final product would taste like a normal brownie. 

As soon as the finished brownies were cool enough to sample I cut out a small chunk, hoping the still pungent bean smell was just my imagination.  The first bite wasn't awful but definitely not the chocolate fix I was looking for.  The texture was perfect, just like the real thing.  Of course, I had to try another bite trying to persuade my mouth to taste brownie only.  Maybe if I wait until morning and it cools completely, I'll have a good enough counterfeit to share for coffee break.

I set the alarm early just in case I'd be making the back-up pumpkin custard recipe.  After one more hopeful nibble,  I pronounced the experiment unsuccessful and tossed the beautiful looking, perfectly bodied batch of brownies into the trash.  I did keep a few squares to take along to play a guess-the-secret-ingredient game.

Later at break, my brave co-workers humored me by 'prooving' the mystery brownies.  As the guesses came in for the hidden ingredient, --cumin?, chili powder?, garlic?--it slowly dawned on me that the beans I had used had probably been canned with some spices and seasoning.  Kind and adventuresome, some of the group actually asked for the recipe.  At home that night, a quick check of the empty bean can confirmed the suspicions, the beans had been spiked!

So there you have it. The proof of the brownies was in the eating. I'm including the black bean recipe at the end of this post, and now that we all know what not to do, we may actually be onto something good. :)

That whole experience makes me think of how we can mix worldly thoughts or things into our lives and hope their presence doesn't show or that no one will notice. We can even look good on the outside and display the right form or structure, but we can't quite mask the bad 'smell' that will show up sooner or later.  Because our hearts can so easily deceive us, the mixing may be a subtle thing we're not even aware of until His Spirit gently exposes the truth. 

2Corithians 2: 14-16 says, "But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him.  For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing.  To the one we are the smell of death; to the other, the fragrance of life. And who is equal to such a task?" 

Father, I want to be this fragrance. So that others see Jesus in me, no mixed messages, but the truth without compromise. Keep me coming back to you, humbly confessing sin and allowing you to cleanse me, so I'm the real deal inside and out.

Back to the medieval pudding refered to in the proverb, it was most likely not a creamy sweet desert style pudding , but rather some form of  meat. Quoting from the site mentioned earlier, the pudding was described as "'the stomach or one of the entrails of a pig, sheep, or other animal, stuffed with a mixture of minced meat, suet, oatmeal, seasoning, etc., and boiled...Mediaeval peasants, faced with a boiled up farmyard massacre, might have thought a taste test to have been a wise choice."

Be a sweet Fragrance this week and take in the sweet scents of fall-a pile of leaves, pumpkin spices, bon fires, apple desserts, hot apple cider...



  • 1 (15.5 ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon instant coffee (optional)
  • 1/2 cup milk chocolate chips (optional)


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease an 8x8 square baking dish.
  2. Combine the black beans, eggs, oil, cocoa powder, salt, vanilla extract, sugar, and instant coffee in a blender; blend until smooth; pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle the chocolate chips over the top of the mixture.
  3. Bake in the preheated oven until the top is dry and the edges start to pull away from the sides of the pan, about 30 minutes.


  1. Ruth, this was such a great story. I enjoyed reading every bit of it. Isn't it hard to throw away something we have put so much work into? But what a "hoot" to find out that the beans were spiced. I love it.
    Your analogy holds up so well. We need to lay our lives before the Lord and ask, "Where am I masquerading as something I am not? How can I become your sweet aroma to others."
    Beautiful, Ruth!


  2. Oh, YES, Ruth!! These are the things the Lord is persistently speaking to my heart.....the more I put in HIM, the more He will come out! The more I look to Jesus, and the "things unseen," the more my inward man is renewed by the power of His glory. It really is ALL about JESUS!! Wonderful are such a gifted writer....I hope you start speaking someday....really.....I could see you having a speaking ministry!!! lv alice :>)

  3. This was a wonderfully written post! And kudos for trying new recipes too!

  4. What an interesting experiment. I loved the part about guessing the secret ingredient. It made for a great analogy. Beans in brownies? Nah. Just doesn't sound right. lol

  5. I love this and love the scripture you quoted. I will have to try the brownies!

  6. Just wanted to let you know that Jaycee and I are about to try the black bean brownies!!

  7. Excellent post. And great example of how we are totally responsible for our own thoughts and acts because only we know if they are true.

  8. I love beans! Especially black beans, they are sooooo healthy and wonderful! And in brownies! That'll get the kids to eat em. I am definitely going to try this recipe. Without the instant coffee though. Thank you for posting this!


Thanks for sharing your response!