Monday, 23 March 2015

Healthier chocolate treats

Some time ago, I wrote about chocolate making as a boredom buster for chocoholic parents and active children (are there any other kind?). The other day my daughter and I made chocolate treats again, but this time they were of a somewhat healthier variety. I no longer remember where I found the original recipe, but then, I've made some changes in it anyway so it isn't the same (and you can't really call it a recipe any more). For these “healthier truffles” you need

- Dates. I use dried ones that are packed into a  sort of brick shape, but I suppose it doesn't matter which kind you use.
- Nuts. Choose your favourite or use a combination. I often use cashews because they're fairly soft. I've also used almonds, but they were hard to reduce into powder.

- Liquid. Choose your favourite. I use rum and water – I know, not a healthy choice, but it is tasty. And there isn't very much of it. I guess plain water would be fine, coffee would be yummy and tea or apple or orange juice would work, too.

- Cocoa powder. I use dark, unsweetened kind. Raw would be ideal, I guess, but I haven't tried it yet.

- Optional: coconut flakes, oats, flax seeds...

Let the dates soak in the liquid until they soften (if you use soft dates, you migh be able to skip this part – I haven't tried though). Smash the nuts into pieces. The finer the powder, the smoother the truffles. I always end up with some bigger pieces in the mix, but that's fine. Use whatever method you prefer or any kitchen gadget you have that is up to the task. I employed a potato masher and a six-year-old with a strong babarian streak:

(Note: if you choose a similar method, put the nuts in a double plastic bag. A single bag is going to split after just a couple of hits from the mallet, there will be nuts all over the place, and a child crawling everywhere and eating them as fast as she can. Which is fine, if you have some extra nuts.)

Drain the dates (don't discard the liquid, you may need it later). Puré the dates and add the nuts. Do some more puréing (is that a word?) if needed. I use roughly the same amount of dates and nuts, but I don't measure them, so I don't know exactly. Add some cocoa powder; how much depends on how chocolatey you want the truffles to be (tasting is encouraged). Here you can also add some coconut flakes, oats, flax seeds, raising, or other additions. I like these simple, so I haven't actually tried any of these but I don't see why they wouldn't work. You might also want to add a bit of that date-soaking liquid if the mixture gets too stiff. But not too much: you want it firm enough to be formed into desired shapes.

So, next, form the mixture into small (or bigger, whatever you like) balls. Or logs, whatever. You can roll them in some more cocoa powder (my preferred method), or powdered sugar, coconut flakes, oats... I keep these in the fridge, just in case - but they don't keep long in my family, everyone likes them so much!

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