Fudgey and intense, no bowls required, these brownies are a 100% clean treat.
My favorite question to ask people on their birthday is “Do you feel older and wiser?” I’m partly kidding, but there’s a nugget of sincerity tucked away in there, too. Most people chuckle, look at me askance, and emphatically reply no.
The day is marked by countless birthday posts and embarrassing pictures dug up by close friends that overtake their Facebook, off-key renditions of “Happy Birthday” sung by friends and strangers who happen to be there, and a treat (guilt free, mind you, since birthdays grant you a get-out-jail-free card). Other than that, they say, it’s just another day in the life.
Excuse me while the birthday-loving, cake-baking, present-making voice in my head GASPS in horror and vows to open your eyes to the waxy colored candlelight granting you that one special wish when your next birthday rolls around.
My family always breaks out cake, balloons, cheesy Hallmark cards. You know, the ones with the funny pictures and bad puns. I recently unearthed every birthday card I got dating back to middle school, saved in a large plastic folder in my bedroom. Several got an encore, meaning my family’s taste in greeting cards hasn’t changed much over the years.
Balloons and cake haven’t lost their appeal (Hallmark cards? Debatable), but for the last few years I’ve been trying to turn my birthday into more than a mere reminder of how much sooner my hair will turn gray. I realized that time is not the only thing that marches on; people, too, cannot be stagnant. Our nature requires us to keep moving, be it backwards or forwards.
And so began the birthday goals.
I turned 19 while taking a gap year abroad post-high school. It was a time free of (most) responsibility, devoted to focusing solely on personal growth and development. It was an environment that encouraged introspection, an act I used to avoid like the plague for fear of what I might uncover.
In the days leading up to my birthday, I thought at length about the changes that took place within me from the moment I stepped on the plane to leave home at summer’s end. I liked who I was becoming, but knew that there was still a long ways to go. Pen in hand, I plopped down with my journal and crafted a list. Ranging from serious to silly, personal to interpersonal, tangible to intangible, there were 19 goals to accomplish over the coming year. That piece of paper hung in prime real estate on my wall, slowly accumulating check marks.
Two years and two lists down, I’m on the cusp of adulthood. Reflecting on where I’ve been. Mapping out where I’m going.
This is why I love birthdays. It’s the one day each year dedicated to pressing pause and asking yourself how you’re really doing, when you get to take the time to focus on ‘me, myself, and I’ instead of others.
Sure, I didn’t do word-of-the-week in my apartment, or finish a New York Times Sunday crossword puzzle without any electronic help (I never even got the puzzle to begin with). No strangers found letters I wrote them, and I still need to make ice cream. But my friendships are stronger. Passion is clearer. Self-acceptance is greater.
Who knows what cards I’ll be dealt in my 21st year. Sitting here, brownie in hand, I’m ready to play any hand.
If you’re thinking it, I want to hear it. Leave feedback below or tag #lensesandlentils on Instagram to share!
- 1 (15 oz) can black beans, rinsed well
- ¾ cup cacao/cocoa powder*
- ½ cup maple syrup**
- 2 eggs
- 2 tbsp coconut oil, melted
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- ½ tsp coarse salt
- ½ tsp baking powder
- 1.4 tsp baking soda
- ½ cup chocolate chips, plus more for topping
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease or line a 9x13 or 8-inch round pan.
- In a food processor or high-powered blender, combine all ingredients except the chocolate chips. Blend until everything is fully incorporated and no chunks remain.
- Mix in the chocolate chips. Pour into pan and top with additional chocolate chips.
- Bake for 20 minutes, or until toothpick in center comes out mostly clean.
- Allow to cool fully. Wrap tightly in tinfoil or store in an airtight container at room temperature for 2-3 days, or 1 week in the fridge.
**I found this sweet enough, but if you prefer a less intense dark chocolate taste, simply add 2 tbsp of coconut/brown sugar.