I have to say hats off to people like Bush's, Heinz, Van Camp, etc - not because of their beans, but because they can get an appetizing photo of said beans. Ok, they have a professional staff for things like this but I was really struggling to get something decent. Don't let this dissuade you from trying these beans as they are so easy to make and pack a wallop of flavor in each mouthful.
It has been a few years since I last made baked beans. I remember that I wasn't thrilled with the results last time, and was determined this time to get the flavor I wanted in the beans. I searched for a few days for the perfect recipe before I decided that it did not exist, well not for me anyway. Instead I chose to take the flavor profiles I liked from three recipes and reinvent the beans to suit my family's tastes. I did have a couple of considerations - I wanted the beans to be vegetarian, I wanted to use my slow cooker, and I wanted a sweet BBQ flavor. The three recipes I chose were Vegetarian Baked Beans (Squawkfox), Crockpot Vegetarian Baked Beans (Blade & Cauldron), and Barbecued Beans (Slow Cooker Revolution via Cooking Light), and then I went to work choosing what I liked from each recipe.
I decided to soak my beans over night even though I was using the slow cooker. Remember to sort through them to pull out any rocks or clumps of dirt that may be hiding, and give them a good rinse. I covered them with water and then left them until the next morning. Apparently you don't have to soak the beans if you are using a slow cooker but I didn't want to take any chances of them not being ready in time, and it really isn't that much work to soak them.
A few recipes I found mentioned adding barbecue sauce, but I really wanted to add my own ingredients to achieve the flavor of a sweet barbecue sauce. I went with molasses, honey, tomato paste, apple cider vinegar, brown sugar, ketchup and a good dose of my favorite Coffee's of Hawaii coffee that had been brewed fresh that morning. Two of my daughters are vegetarians so I did not want to add bacon, and I found that adding the coffee provided that roasted flavor. Honestly I did not miss the bacon because the ingredients I added managed to be sweet and smokey by themselves. Don't get me wrong, I love bacon as much as the next non-vegetarian so add it if you would like too, I just didn't want anyone to wonder if these would still be good without the smokey flavor that bacon can impart to a dish.
Once they had finished cooking and I was happy with the texture of the beans I found that they were still a little "soupy". Some people prefer their beans to have a bit of liquid, but I added a corn starch mixture to thicken them up a little. For those making these beans the day before don't add too much corn starch because they will thicken overnight. We had some leftovers the next day and I will definitely make them a day or so before next time. The flavors really developed overnight and they tasted amazing after being gently reheated.
Cup O'Joe Baked Beans
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 2½ cups dried navy beans, picked over and soaked overnight
- 3 cups vegetable stock
- 1 cup strongly brewed coffee
- ¼ cup molasses
- ¼ cup honey
- ½ cup packed dark brown sugar
- 1 6oz tin tomato paste
- ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
- ¼ cup ketchup
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 2 tablespoons corn starch dissolved in water, if required
- Heat oil in pan.
- Add onion and cook for two minutes, add garlic and continue cooking until both are soft and golden.
- Drain pre-soaked beans and add to the slow cooker insert.
- Add cooked onion and garlic to slow cooker insert.
- In a separate bowl whisk together the vegetable stock, coffee, molasses, honey, dark brown sugar, tomato paste, apple cider vinegar, and ketchup - add to slow cooker insert and stir to combine.
- Set slow cooker to high and cook for approximately 6 hours.
- Add salt and pepper to taste.
- If there is too much liquid in your bean mixture dissolve 2 tablespoons corn starch in water. Add to bean mixture and stir until thickened.
Recipe by All That's Left Are The Crumbs©