Chocolate Borlotti Bean Brownie Cake - pressure cooker recipe

This chocolate dessert is made almost completely out of beans – the pressure cooker cooks the beans and then steams their batter to transform them into a cake.

The cake holds together quite well, and the slices look cakey, when you eat them they feel fudgy and taste totally chocolaty!

pressure cooked beans are.. fantastic!
I have confessed more than once here, that the pressure cooker has gotten me to re-consider beans.  That’s an understatement, who am I kidding?!?! I LOVE legumes now. My family eats tome at least twice a week, sometimes more. Pressure cooked beans are creamy, not pasty, and each bean has it’s own personality that is just waiting to be exalted in a sweet or savory preparation. Soaking, or quick-soaking, and rinsing the beans frequently during the process keeps everyone in our household from getting stomach cramps and intestinal gas.

bean brownie evolution
When the black bean brownie fad hit Pinterest last summer I was intrigued.  It seemed that everyone was making and photographing them.  Why not make them in the pressure cooker?  Oh yea… they didn’t taste that great.  bean_brownie_cake_slice_flowers_vI started to tweak a recipe that looked decent by first adapting it to the pressure cooker and then adjusting the quantities.  I changed the ingredients to with my favorite substitutions honey for sugar and olive oil for butter, too.

I tried making  bean brownies with other legumes, too.  Chickpeas were a little too strong but Borlotti (aka Pinto’s) were fantastic. I also tried to flavor the chocolate.  Vanilla, either cooked with the beans or added in the “baking” phase totally disappeared.  Citrus zest, like lemon and orange, seemed like a natural match but they both tasted kind of blah – they just don’t diffuse as well in bean-based cake. Almond oil concentrate kept it’s flavor and inspired the garnish.

I’ve made this cake  in an aluminum tube pan, shallow heat-proof dish and silicone cup-cake  molds, too.  Yesterday, I found a cute little heart-shaped silicone mold at my local housewares store that, with a little trimming around the edges, fits perfectly in my pressure cooker’s the steamer basket!!

I’ve been working on this recipe for six months!

guess the secret ingredient
I have brought versions of this cake to the houses of many friends – asking them to guess the secret ingredient.  None of them could but were delighted to find out that this cake DOES NOT CONTAIN ANY FLOUR – it’s just beans!

Pressure Cooker Accessories Pr. Cook Time Pr. Level Open
6 L or larger steamer basket, heat-proof bowl(s) 10+20 min. High(2) Natural+Normal

4.3 from 3 reviews
Aldmond Chocolate Borlotti Bean Cake - pressure cooker recipe
Nutritional Information
(per serving)
  • Serves: 6 to 8
  • Serving size: ⅛th
  • Calories: 163.4
  • TOTAL Fat: 7.8g
  • Saturated fat: 1.2g
  • Unsaturated fat: .08g
  • TOTAL Carbs: 24.4g
  • Sugar Carbs: 16.1g
  • Sodium: 187.7mg
  • Fiber Carbs: 3.9g
  • Protein: 4.4g
  • Cholesterol: 53.8mg
Recipe type: pressure cooker
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
For Beans:
  • 1 cup dried Borlotti beans, soaked overnight
  • 4 cups water
For Cake:
  • ½ cup bitter cocoa powder
  • ½ cup raw honey
  • ⅛ teaspoon pure almond extract
  • 3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 pinches (1/8 tsp) sea salt
  • 2 tsp baking powder
For Garnish (optional):
  • ¼ cup sliced or slivered almonds
Prepare Beans
  1. To the pressure cooker, add the soaked rinsed and strained beans and water.
  2. Close and lock the lid of the pressure cooker.
    Electric pressure cookers: Cook for 12 minutes at high pressure.
    Stovetop pressure cookers: Turn the heat up to high and when the cooker indicates it has reached high pressure, lower to the heat to maintain it and begin counting 10 minutes pressure cooking time.
  3. When time is up, open the pressure cooker with the Natural pressure release.
    Electric pressure cookers: Disengage the “keep warm” mode, or unplug the cooker, and open the lid when the pressure indicator/lid-lock has gone down (about 20 to 30 minutes).
    Stovetop pressure cookers: Move the cooker off the burner and wait for the pressure to come down on its own (about 10 minutes).
prepare cake
  1. Strain the beans (reserving the cooking liquid for stock) and place into a food processor and blend to almost a puree. Then wait for the beans to cool for about 10 more minutes.
  2. In the meantime, rinse out the pressure cooker and add one cup of water and steamer basket, and set aside.
  3. Lightly coat a 4-cup capacity heat-proof bowl with olive oil, and an optional sprinkle of cocoa powder (this can get messy), and set aside.
  4. Into the processor add the cocoa powder, honey, almond extract, olive oil, eggs and salt.
  5. Puree the contents of the processor at high speed until well combined, then add the baking powder and process for about a minute.
  6. Using a spatula plop the contents of the processor into the heat-proof bowl.
  7. Lower the un-covered heat-proof bowl onto the steamer basket.
  8. Close and lock the lid of the pressure cooker.
    Electric pressure cookers: Cook for 20 minutes at high pressure.
    Stovetop pressure cookers: Turn the heat up to high and when the cooker indicates it has reached high pressure, lower to the heat to maintain it and begin counting 20 minutes pressure cooking time.
  9. When time is up, open the cooker by releasing the pressure.
  10. Remove the cake and let cool for about 5 minutes before unmolding the cake onto serving dish. Let the cake cool uncovered another 10 minutes.
  1. Sprinkle the cake with sliced almonds. Serve warm or chilled.


Chocolate Borlotti Bean Brownie Cake - pressure cooker recipe
Borlotti Bean Brownie Cake - pressure cooker recipe




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  1. in direction #3 Coat the pan with what?
    Also, I have small allluminum heart pans, each hold about 1/4 cup. Could I use those and wlould the time be the same

    1. Whoops! That would be olive oil – I have corrected this in the recipe. Enjoy!



      1. Can you bake in glass in the pressure cooker? Does it change baking times?

        1. Yes you can. It does need to be heat proof glass. Pyrex is fine. As are several European brands whose names escape me right now. I keep thinking Borlotti but that’s a type of bean. And Martelli – but that’s the name of my (Italian) green grocer and it is a French brand I am thinking of.

          The times will increase a bit but how much will depend on the thickness of the glass. Something you will have to work out for yourself I’m afraid.

            1. And the French brand I was thinking of was Duralex. I think it may have been bought out by Bormioli anyway. I have no idea how I got from Duralex to Martelli.

  2. Just made the bean brownies in 8 small heart shaped aluminum pans. I am very new to pressure cooking and didn’t know if the time would be the same as with a larger pan. I cooked the first 4 to test and it worked great. I can eat gluten, but made them as a gift for a friend who needs to be gluten free. I’m not a nutritionist, but it seems like eating more beans would be good for everyone.

    1. What a great way to share with your neighbor! And, how lucky your neighbor is to have you as their neighbor!

      This brownie is definitely one of those treats that can be enjoyed withou guilt – by everyone!



      1. P.S. Here is my favorite bean nutrition website. Borlotti (als known as pinto beans) are a great source of protein, fiber, folate and tons of other great vitamins like Iron. Check it out here:

    2. Be careful using aluminum …it is one of the things that can get absorbed from food and is thought to be implicated in a lot of health issues–especially Alzheimer’s…Use pyrex or another oven-safe glass cake pan or stainless steel. Instant Pot makes a stainless steel cake pan insert for the IP pressure cooker! (-:

  3. I too made the cake in a french soufle bowl and lined the bottom with parchment. Perfect.
    I did not have almond extract but had almond oil instead. I intend to slice it and spread with
    melted strawberry jam. My electric pressure cooker has a steamer basket with slits in the
    shape of a flower. I will sift 10X sugar over it onto the cake for tonight. Stay tuned……….Mary

  4. The cake was dense and rich and the strawberry jam, 10X sugar and a Hoodsie ice cream
    cup on top was the best. My husband never suspected that there was something different about the cake except that it was good. hehe I think next time I will make it with the
    silicone cups. Mary

    1. Hahaha… yes I had so much fun with sharing this cake with my friends and family, too. The look of surprise on their face!!! Then, AFTER, they said “Oh yea, I can taste the beans now.. but it’s very good!”



  5. In the US, I believe a closer match to the Borlotti bean, is called the Cranberry bean. A pinto bean has a little earthier flavor.

    I have used pinto beans to make a pie very similar to pumpkin, and one that is very much like a pecan pie.

    I cannot wait to try this. I love using beans, especially because of the fiber and lower glycemic index. As a diabetic, this will be a much better choice than a standard brownie would be. terry r.

    1. I used Pinto Beans for this recipe – the earthy flavor works really well with the chocolate. If you try cranberry, let me know how it turns out!



  6. Hmmmmmm. Too bad our local health food store just folded up as I am sure I could have gotten the cranberry bean there. I will look online as well. Dosent Amazon have everything?!
    Goya has a very nice small red bean as well. I think I might try it with maple syrup next time
    around instead of honey. Mary

  7. That sounds very interesting. Please post how it turns out. I think the maple syrup would give it an entirely different take.

    I have found several places selling cranberry beans. I am sure you can get them anyplace that has those bulk bean containers.

  8. Laura,

    I want to make this but am almost out of raw honey and don’t think I can get more until the farmers markets start back up in the spring. Would regular honey mess up the recipe since it’s more liquid than solid or would that be ok?

    Thank you!

    1. No problem – it should be fine. We’re replacing sugar in this recipe and sugar (when liquefied) is even runnier so it’s going to be great.

      Have fun making it… and let us know if your husband guess there were beans in the cake!!!



  9. I made the bean cake today with maple syrup, almond extract, and pink beans.
    Results: blah…………
    Also used the cute little silicone baking cups and made two layers just under the
    fill up level. Worked quite well. M>

  10. Let me preface this by saying I like to cook…I am NOT a baker.

    Unfortunately this cake didn’t seem to work out for me. I wanted it to work sooo badly. I used a 4 cup Pyrex bowl and the cake rose above the bowl. Should I have used a bigger bowl? The flavor was good but the texture seemed all wrong. Instead of being dense and fudgy it was crumbly and almost more like a baked mousse. Perhaps I used a little too much baking powder? Admittedly I am a scoop and dump person, maybe I should have been more careful in my measurements and leveled off the teaspoon? I also wonder if I processed everything in my food processor too long and incorporated too much air? My Cuisinart has one speed. Maybe after pureeing the beans I should have switched to a hand mixer?

    I’m open to suggestions because I love the idea of a dessert that has redeeming health qualities. Oh…and the husband never suspected it had beans in it…you couldn’t taste them at all! But since the texture wasn’t pleasing to us I didn’t tell him they were in there because he would have immediately blamed them and if I decide to try it again he wouldn’t give it a fair shot if he knew. :)

    Thank you,

    1. Oh..and one more question…my steamer basket doesn’t really raise above the water line so I put it on a trivet. Was the bottom of the pyrex bowl supposed to be in contact with the water or no?

      1. If you ditch the steamer basket and use only the trivet you can fit a shallower and wider dish.



    2. Andrea, it’s really cute because it’s soo poofy – but yes extra-crumbly means too much baking powder.

      I did lots of experiments with this recipe including increasing and decreasing the baking powder. Decreasing made it a little too dense while increasing it made it a little too crumbly. You can do everything in the Cuisinart but maybe next time blend the beans a little more blended before adding the other ingredients, and break-up the eggs with a fork before adding, then pulse your one-speed Cuisinart until all of the other ingredients are evenly combined.

      Be sure to do the evaporation steps, too, and let it evaporate and dry out a bit – this is important since the cake will be very wet. If you have a shallower dish ditch the steamer basket and put it directly on the trivet.



      1. Laura,

        Thanks for the quick response and trouble shooting tips! I am going to have to try this recipe again. Although it will probably have to wait until after Lent. And I’ll have to find a better pan to cook it in.

        Have a nice day!

  11. I have not tried it yet, but do you suppose it could have been the taller bowl as opposed to the flatter pan? May be it has something to do with the way the heat reaches the middle? That would be my only guess other than the mixing technique you already mentioned. terry r.

  12. Finally got around to making this cake. I think I should have drained my beans a little better, as it was quite moist. It seem to have more the texture of a flourless chocolate cake.

    My husband liked it a lot, my daughter, not so much.

    I think I might try it next time with some Adzuki beans. They are supposed to be naturally sweet and used by Japanese in desserts. It should make it look like a red velvet cake.

    I also think I will try a dry egg powder I keep on hand and not add the extra liquid called for, for the egg amount.

    I will post my results, when I try it.

    1. The key to drying out the cake a bit is the cooling step. You want to let the cake stand for a few minutes – so the sides can shrink it and then un-mold it and leave it un-covered to cool completely. These two steps will so most of the drying out for you.

      I’ve got a Japanese dessert in my future plans – and in my experiments so far I did not find the beans particularly sweet by themselves. The Japanese add an awful lot of SUGAR to them during cooking! The resulting bean pulp is a lovely plum-like burgundy color and I can’t wait to see what your cake will look like!!



  13. I did let my cake cool, down as suggested, I really think it would have been fine if I had let the beans drain more, it was my fault, not the recipes.

    I will be trying it again. Thanks, terry r.

  14. Wow! This looked amazing from the get-go and worked out brilliantly.
    My first version was pretty faithful to your recipe, but I decided to bake it in the oven, around 180 for ~ 35/40 mins. The main reason was simply because I simply didn’t have a big enough (and pretty enough) mould to fit into the cooker.
    It was so good that I’ve just made batch #2 – this time inspired by my fav ginger cake recipe, made with lots of spices and sweetened with treacle. I put the batter into little cup cake moulds this time and they are just perfect.
    Thanks for your hard work research this one – well worth the effort. I’m always trying to make my recipes a little healthier and this one hits the spot. Tasty and (almost) virtuous!

  15. Just made this with a few changes. I used sucanat (1 cup) to replace honey, vanilla and added chopped walnuts. We like traditional brownies around here. Since several commented it was too wet, I did not add any additional liquid and it turned out perfect. More of a cake texture instead of fudgy brownies. Could easily be frosted for a cake. My four kids 4yrs-11yrs, loved it. We topped it with whip cream instead of almonds. My husband just kept saying how impressed he was. I used an 8 inch round pan. My five year old son says he has to have this recipe when he leaves home! Thank you so much.

    1. Thanks for sharing your variation – so glad to read that your whole family enjoyed it!



  16. Mine looked right, but didn’t un-mold well: the bottom stayed stuck in the pan, which I had oiled and dusted with cocoa. It is very moist. Under-done?
    I cooked it in a stainless steel tramontana container and used Anasazi beans and regular honey.

  17. Is there a reason the recipe suggests long-soaking here, or is a quick soak safe as well?

    1. Yes, you can quick-soak the beans as well.



  18. Thank you for this wonderful recipe Laura. I made it for my daughter who can’t eat gluten or dairy due to Celiac Disease. We ate it together and both agreed this recipe is a keeper!

    1. Cinde what a pretty cake you made! I’m so glad it worked out well and it was enjoyed!



  19. This was a runny gross mess. It was a huge let down for our gf family.

    1. Obviously something went wrong and I’m sorry that it did – that’s not how its supposed to be. It sounds like it probably needed to cook more.

      Please tell us more. Did you make any substitutions? What material is your heat-proof container made of? What is your pressure cooker make and model?



      1. I used the instant pot. And a silicon mold sitting on the trivet. The baking powder burned the roof of my mouth. The flavor was just bleh, not chocolate at all. I pressure cooked it on manual for 30 minutes.

        1. I must admit I have never made this (not fond of chocolate cake) so take my comments with a grain of salt.

          I find your statement “the baking powder burned the roof of my mouth” odd.

          1. The recipe has you blend the baking powder in to the mix. “Step 5. …Add baking powder and *process* for a minute”. There shouldn’t be any visible baking powder even before cooking. So you shouldn’t be able to detect that as the ingredient that burned you.

          2. Baking powder is a mixture of chemicals. They react with heat and water to produce carbon dioxide gas which provides the rise. It is NOT bicarbonate of soda. Though that is one of the chemicals present.

          Is it possible your baking powder was old? Baking powder goes off over time. And stops working. It usually clumps when it does so. So this could explain why it didn’t mix properly and also didn’t provide any rise.

          Try it again with fresh ingredients and report back.

          I know every recipe of Laura’s I have tried has worked as advertised. Unless there was a clear reason it didn’t. Usually something I did wrong (e.g. Missing a step or ingredient) or because I used a different type of container that threw off the timing. Very rarely because Laura made a typo. Unlikely in this case as it is an old recipe.

          1. The baking powder is good. You could taste the baking powder in this. 2 teaspoons is a lot.

  20. Can flax eggs or other vegan substitute be used for the eggs?
    I just got my Instant Pot and your recipe looks yummy!

    1. Doreen, the jury is still out on flax eggs in the pressure cooker – I had a ridiculous experience and I don’t know if I can attribute it to the flax or how it was used (in liquid instead of a batter). Why not try this with an “apple sauce” eggs, instead? BTW, the substitution is 1/4 cup (or 50g) of applesauce per egg.

      BTW, if anyone reading this HAS done this with flax eggs please let us know how it turned out!



  21. I was so excited to make this – went right away to find cranberry beans. No such luck. Then I decided maybe I could use black beans. I assembled the ingredients and then realized that I don’t know how to make my new instapot do what you ask. How can I be assured that I won’t have a big globby chocolate bean mess? My pot has settings for beans, poultry, soup etc but nothing that would suggest that I am cooking on high.

    This is disappointing. Maybe, if you have an instapot, you could give more explicit instructions.
    Do you think it would work to steam this recipe for 20 minutes?

    1. Welcome Julia,
      Laura nearly always uses the manual setting on the electrics. She dows this so the recipes will translate more readily to other brands.

      I don’t have an Instapot so I am not certain of the exact method, but there will be a manual setting there somewhere. Then select high pressure if that is not the default – which it probably is, then dial in the time and press start. I hope this is enough to get you started. If it doesn’t make sense, check your manual or come back here and ask again. There are plenty of people with IPs that frequent this place. If you do, be sure to specify the exact model. They all work slightly differently.

    2. I’m glad to see all of this excitement for this recipe. Don’t forget to cook the black beans!

      Step 1. Soak black beans
      Step 2. Pressure cook them for 7 minutes and open with natural release (Manual 7 min).
      Step 3. Follow the rest of the recipe as written. ; )

      I noticed that this recipe did not include SPECIFIC instructions for electric pressure cookers – so I have updated the text to include this.

      Let us know how it turns out!



  22. Hi – I just made this, and it seemed to come out fine (I used cranberry beans, maybe I should use pinto?), and looked nice – rose up, pretty good texture, height etc. But it wasn’t chocolate-y enough…how could I boost the chocolate flavor, do you think? Would vanilla work instead of almond extract? Or could I throw in some chocolate chips to the batter? I used Trader Joe’s unsweetened cocoa powder…maybe I need to bring out some big guns, like a name brand: ghirardelli or Guittard or something? Any advice would be greatly appreciated. (I attached a pic…didn’t have almonds so did some hazelnuts on top instead).

    1. Hi Jennifer, Pinto/Borlotti beans are naturally sweeter so that would have helped sweeten it up a little bit. To add more chocolate flavor go for the chocolate chip idea first.

      Though, don’t underestimate the flavor of the good stuff. When I lived in the U.S. I always bought the Ghiradelli cocoa powder- it’s just so much more flowery and complex compared to what you can get at the grocery store! I have to find a way get my hands on Perugina cocoa pwoder, now! ; )

      Thanks for sharing the photo – hazelnuts were a great sub!!!



  23. Could we use canned beans if we rinsed them really well?

    1. I have use canned beans, rinse and drain well.

  24. I use a can of black beans – drained. Sooooooo easy.

  25. I really enjoyed reading about this cake, now Ihave few questions to ask I love the orange cake pan is this something just for the electric pressure cookerI would like to purchase one but have never seen one. I have the Power Pressure 8 and I love it. Thank you for all the work you do so we can have website like this.

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