If you’re a fan of sesame and cashew, those bars are for you! They are vegan, full of crunch, fiber and healthy fats to keep you going! And, we may or may have not enjoyed some coconut ice cream on a few of these bars this past weekend……
We ought to love ourselves, and be our own #1…right? Shouldn’t we learn to love ourselves before trying to smother someone else with chocolate-coated lovey-dovey emotions? Chocolate, a home cooked meal, cookies, a cocktail…whatever!
This year, like the last, I plan on sending my sister something to show her just how much I love her. I mean, big smelly sisters are special! They teach you (or try to) life lessons, give great advice, and also share a love of chocolate. And Fleetwood Mac. Last year, I sent her a big box of homemade vegan coconut-based chocolate truffles. The concept is simple, and basically mimics a traditional ganache, subbing in coconut milk for the heavy cream. The truffles turned out great, despite a few issues I had with them, of which I remedied with some reference to this amazing book all about confections.
Namely, my issue was the following: coconut milk has a fairly wide range of fat content, depending on the brand, who made it, and time of year. Dairy, however, is tightly regulated in terms of fat content. I mean, that is why you pay more for dairy products with more fat. That said, fat content is extremely important when it comes to ganache. Why? Because it is an emulsion. Too much of one phase, and your beautiful suspension of liquid fat amongst cocoa solids, cocoa butter droplets and water will split. Not pretty…not pretty at all. And THAT is exactly what happened last year to me-not a huge deal, and I expected it in fact. However, once you roll the truffles in cocoa powder in the end, this hides any imperfections on the outside. But, the texture may not be spot-on silky smooth. By golly, my inner confectionery-geek just didn’t feel satisfied. I’ll try this again-oh yes, but this week was not that time! I wanted something simpler, healthier, easier to ship to California, and crunchy. Yes, crunchy.
Enter: dark chocolate-cherry energy truffles! These come together in about 10 minutes, with 15 minutes devoted to forming them into balls. And you may even have everything you need in your pantry right now. They have a long shelf life: about 4 weeks in the freezer, and about 2 weeks in the fridge. They are bursting with healthy fats, fibers, antioxidants and crunch. The intense chocolate flavor from the cocoa powder and nibs will rival any store-bought chocolate. The sweet-tart cherries are the perfect balance, along with the sweet-caramel-like dates holding it all together. And to top it off, a nice splash of cognac (or vanilla) make these super special! If desired, these could be dipped in some melted dark chocolate for a super special treat. Simply melt 3/4 to 1 cup dark chocolate in a double boiler or in the microwave, and gently roll each ball in the melted chocolate using your fingers or a fork. Tap off excess, and place on parchment until set. I suggest popping the balls in the freezer for a few minute to help harden before dipping (putting melted chocolate in the freezer encourages a firm, albeit less-stable polymorph of cocoa butter to form, so these will be more prone to bloom and may not have a nice snap when bitten into).
Note: I got 15 balls from this recipe, so enough for 2 small gifts (one for my sister, one for my Mom-she’ll probably get hers for her birthday). For storing, place into an air-tight container, or in a box inside a plastic bag to prevent these lovely balls from drying out. You may substitute the almonds for walnuts, macadamia, pistachios or even pecans. I added 1 TB of virgin coconut oil to help these stick together, but feel free to omit. Thank you to scaling back blog for the recipe inspiration!
Dark Chocolate and Cherry Energy Truffles (vegan, gluten-free, paleo, refined sugar-free, soy-free) //makes 12-15 walnut-sized truffles//
- 1 cup raw almonds (or other nut, such as walnuts, or a combination)
- 1 cup pitted soft Medjool dates (about 10-12)
- 1/2 cup dried sweet cherries
- 1/4 cup cocoa powder (preferably natural, not dutched) or raw cacao powder
- 2 TB cacao nibs
- 1 TB soft or melted coconut oil
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp sea salt
- 1 TB vanilla or cognac (optional)
1. Prepare a baking sheet by lining with parchment, or have at the ready some small confectionery cups.
2. In a food processor, process the almonds and nibs until coarse-keep some texture because they will be processed more.
3. Add the remaining ingredients, and process until everything starts to stick together. The cherries may still be chunky-and that is good! You should be able to squeeze the mixture into a ball and have it hold shape. If it doesn’t, process a bit more to release more to decrease particle size and allow the nuts to release some more oil.
4. Form into TB size balls, squeezing to compact the mixture. Place into an airtight container, or a box with a plastic bag around it. Balls will keep for 2 weeks in the fridge or up to 4 weeks in the freezer. If frozen, thaw at fridge or room temperature until soft (or just eat frozen!!). Repeat, feel the love, eat more chocolate.
Everything you’ll need!
The cherries and nibs. Such flavorful and colorful contrast!
The cocoa powder….all cocoa-y and powder-y…and delicious!
The almonds: aren’t they lovely?
Coconut oil, cognac, cinnamon and sea salt:
The ground almonds and nibs. This is the goal texture:
The finished mixture! This stuff smells amazing:
All rolled up!
Put in a box, ready to ship…found these materials online, but I bet any baking supply store would carry them! I love the texture and colors. These babies have a lot of love to give!!
And more truffles! Hooray! These are wonderful fresh, but firming with some chilling or freezing action is great, too.