Chocolate-orange brownies with tahini swirl

DSC_0036 30 weeks pregnant. The third trimester. The home stretch. I knew it would feel this way but really, how fast has this pregnancy gone compared to my last?! Time really does fly with a toddler constantly keeping me in the now and distracting my attention away from the daily highs and lows that come with being pregnant. After the sick and tired first trimester, I am happy to say I’ve had a truly wonderful and easy time growing this new life inside me. I regained my energy in the second trimester, busying myself with work and festive shenanigans. Since baby turned thirty weeks this last week, I’ve noticed myself want to slow down again, the tiredness is creeping back and my body is basically telling me to sloooow down. Apart from that I feel great, am able to enjoy all my favourite foods and am feeling grateful for the lack of symptoms I experienced from last time. I can’t tell if it’s down to simply not giving into the negative symptoms I’ve had so far, or just ‘different baby different pregnancy’ that I hear so often in regards to second/third/forth.. pregnancies. So here we are, enjoying every moment we are as a three before baby makes it arrival in the spring, nesting, feasting and making alot of delicious healthy treats together. Given today’s recipe, I think it’s fair to say that my first trimester chocolate aversion has well and truly disappeared given how many of these brownies I’ve put away over the past few months. It’s also great having a mini side-kick beside me in the kitchen when I’m creating. Fern helps me at every meal; peeling, stirring, spooning and tasting. It’s the best thing, for me, seeing my girl love to prepare, cook and eat as I do. My purpose is fulfilled , sharing these life skills and passions with her and I couldn’t feel fuller (both literally and figuratively!)


And so to brownies. I’m going to go all out and say that these are the my most tried and tested, addictive and devoured recipe to date! Add to that nutritious, satisfying and choca-full of awesome ingredients. I have been making and tweaking these grain-free, vegan, cane-sugar free brownies for going on alomost a year now, and I am finely sharing what is my hands-down favourite version. Based around the idea behind my Sweet-hummus blondies to use pulses in place of refined flour, this chocolate version begins with blending black beans as a base. But fear not! I am certain that 99.9% of people will not have any idea that these are made from a hearty backbone of beans and instead be blissing out over the rich, soft, entered, sweet and satisfying  taste. The tahini swirl you see here on top came to me after a random sweet craving where I grabbed the tahini jar, almond milk and maple syrup and dunked apple slices in the sweet, creamy sesame sauce. With the left-overs I had in the jar I decided on a whim to blob some on top of my brownie before baking a batch. Being a bit of a swirl-aholic, I picked up  my chopstick and began whirling and swirling the top to make the pretty pattern. It’s completely optional but oh so worth it if you’re a tahini and chocolate addict like me!

Given that Valentines day is literally just around the corner, why not treat yourself and a loved one to these love-filled brownies. There really is no better way to say ‘I love you’ than through food and these are sure to win you some brownie points (hehe!) in the love department ; )


 A few notes on the recipe: I use canned black beans as they’re softer and blend easier, but if you decide to cook your own, make sure you cook them until they’re really soft, and will crush between your fingers. I used green and blacks cocoa powder, and good quality, raw or natural variety would work. I find these brownies rich and dense enough as they are, but if you fancy even more chocolaty decadence, a small amount of finely chopped dark chocolate added to the mix is divine.

Chocolate-orange brownies with tahini swirl

1 400g can black beans, drained and rinsed (240g drained weight)

2 tbsp ground flax seeds pre-soaked in 5 tbsp water

3 tbsp coconut oil, melted

½ cup coconut palm sugar

¾ cup cacao powder

Zest of 1 orange

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 ½ tsp baking powder

½ cup walnuts or pecans (optional)

1/4 cup almond milk, warmed

1 tbsp tahini

2 tbsp maple syrup

1/2 tsp flaky sea salt

2 tbsp almond milk

Preheat your oven to 180 deg C. Line a 21 x 21 cm baking tin with parchment paper and set aside. Thoroughly rinse the black beans and place in a food processor with the coconut oil, coconut sugar, cacao powder and soaked flax seeds which should be thick and gel like. Process until the beans are smooth and you have something that resembles chocolate mousse. Add the orange zest , baking powder and warmed almond milk. Warming the milk makes sure that the coconut oil doesn’t go solid in the mixture when it comes in contact with cold beans. Add the milk a little at time until you have a smooth, thick paste which can just about be poured. If you are adding nuts to the  brownies, add them now and pulse a few times before pouring the mixture into your tin.

In a  small bowl, mix the tahini, maple syrup, salt and almond milk until you have a smooth sauce. Pour it in lines or blobs on top of the brownie batter and using a chopstick, swirl in and out of the tahini, making a pattern. It needn’t be too prefect as it will blur when baked so go for it and see how it turns out!

Bake for 20-25 minutes until the top is dry and the edges are starting to pull away. Remove from the tin and cool completely before removing the paper. They will be moist, but you can firm them up by setting in the fridge if preferred. Store for up to 3 days in an airtight container or up to 1 week in the fridge.DSC_0089

I’d love to hear if you try these and see you creations on Instagram. Hashtag #thenectarcafe so I can see yours! Now I’m off to enjoy another one of these, fill my growing belly with creamy, chocolaty-tahini love and enjoy the kicks and wriggles that come with enjoying such loveliness : )

Happy Love day!

Jo + bean-brownie-bump


  1. Dillon | Oh, Holy Basil says

    Jo! These look fantastic. Chocolate, orange and tahini were born to come together. I can’t wait to try these beauties. So much love to you in these final weeks of pregnancy. It’s such a poignant moment in time. xxx

    • admin says

      Thank you Dillon! I hope you love them as much as I do! I’m loving these last weeks of pregnancy and am so aware to soak it all in xxx

  2. Lana Jankovic says

    Oh how gorgeous Jo! So happy to hear that the food aversions have eased.. and that the chocolate game is back on strong. YES to that. These look completely amazing.. and you know, I have yet to try a swirl of any sort but I keep meaning to! Happy valentines day my goddessy mama friend, heaps of hugs and love! xo

    • admin says

      YES to chocolate back in my life! And get your swirling on girl! I just know you’ll be hooked once you start like me, hehe. Happy Valentines to you too sweet friend xxx

  3. Carol says

    Hi Jo, I just made your bownies & they are delish! They are wonderfully fudgey, but not too heavy & just the right amount of sweetness. I changed the topping a bit (1TBS tahini, 2 tsp each maple syrup & almond milk) as I was concerned that the quantities in the recipe were a bit to liquidy. It worked just fine, adding a hint of tahini flavour here and there. It made me think about adding a bit more of an intense tahini swirl, or even a thick creamy orange/tahini swirl?! I even had a thought this morning about the frosting you made for the hummus blondies (tahini/miso/date)…yum…wouldn’t that be great swirled in. Ok, now I’m making myself hungry. Perhaps its time for a brownie break! Thanks for the inspiration :-)

    • admin says

      Thank you! I’m so happy you love them! The tahini swirl came out of inspiration for the hummus blondies.. you could use miso in place of the salt or even add some orange like you said! Enjoy your brownie break! Xx

  4. Helen says

    I’ve been meaning to make these as soon as I first saw the recipe as they look and sound amazing! I’ve made a chocolate and black bean cake before, but I wasn’t that keen as you could taste the beans and it just didn’t seem quite right.
    I finally got round to making these yesterday. The recipe was really straight forward and fun to make and the raw mix tasted so good ;)
    They are WONDERFUL! Really gooey, and fudgy from the fridge.
    Thank you for sharing it! I’ll definitely be making them again x

    • admin says

      Thank you for trying them! I too had been experimenting with black bean cakey sweets alot, but this time I felt I really hit it with the right texture and flavour. I’m so happy to hear you love them! Happy brownie eating! xx

  5. anna flack says

    hi there.i’ve made these a couple of times and i really love the taste.however, i know they are supposed to be a very fudgy soft texture but both times i’ve made them they seem to not set well at all,even when left in the fridge awhile,they are much more like a pudding.have you got any tips ? i’d love to make them again but would like to be able to hold them like a brownie instead of eatting them with a spoon! thanks,lots of love x

    • Jo says

      Hi Anna. Hmm, I’ve never experienced this or heard it from anyone else who has tried it out. Do you let the brownies cool completely before removing them from the tin? They are quite soft when they first come out, but I find that they firm up enough to slice once cooled. What size tin are you using? Mine is 8” square and this works for me. Maybe try using a bit less almond milk in the brownie recipe next time.Also leave them in the oven until a coctail stick comes out stained brown but not gooey. I’m sure they still taste great but I’d love you to have a brownie you can hold! Thank you so much for trying them and I hope it works next time. Let me know! Jo x


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>