I don’t often embrace food trends, but I’ve lost my cool over these date and nut bites (or bliss balls) that have taken the internet by storm. These are an updated version of my first recipe, with more cacao powder, maca and coconut, nut butter in place of tahini, and currants in place of apricots.
Every so often we do a ‘sugar audit’ around these parts, scaling back on the refined stuff and going back to natural sugar basics: fresh and dried fruit, maple, and whole-fruit smoothies. I haven’t done the math but with items like dates, tahini and raw nuts, one has to assume these bites are still relatively calorie-dense and thus, one must resist the urge to devour all of them during the slow burn of a Mad Men episode.
But they’re full of goodness as well – potassium, monounsaturated fat (the good stuff in olive oil), magnesium and iron. Maca is said to boost libido (hey, why not) and raw cacao is the darling of seemingly everyone right now.
They’re also bloody delicious and satisfying, which is really the reason we love them. Two of these with morning or afternoon tea provide the pick-me-up I need without the sugar crash of a cookie or bit of chocolate laying around the office.
If you’re like me, you crave not just something sweet, but something with an indulgent texture to match. Something chewy. Give these a try, using whatever dried fruits and nuts you prefer. Making them is too easy – just throw everything in the food processor and whizz until it forms a textured paste. If it’s too dry to mold in your hands, add a bit of water or nut butter. Too wet? Add more dry ingredients. Play around.
- 100g whole toasted almonds (about 1 very full cup)
- 150g plump medjool dates, pitted (about 12 dates)
- 1/4 cup currants
- 2 tbsp sesame seeds
- 1 tbsp chia seeds
- 2 tsp maca powder
- 2 tbsp raw cacao powder
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- Pinch sea salt
- 2 heaped tbsp nut butter (I use ABC - Almond, Brazil, Cashew)
- 1 tbsp coconut oil
- 3 tbsp water
- 1/4 cup shredded unsweetened coconut + additional 1/2 cup set aside for dusting
In a large frying pan, gently dry toast the almonds over medium-low heat, tossing regularly, about 5 minutes or until fragrant and popping but not browned. Set aside to cool a moment then pour into the bowl of a food processor.
Add all remaining ingredients except for the 1/2 cup additional coconut and water to the blender. Process until the nuts are dates are finely ground and the mixture starts to form a ball. If the mixture isn't sticky, pulse in the water 1 tbsp at a time until it's sticky enough to mold into balls.
Remove the blade from the food processor and place the extra 1/2 cup coconut in a small bowl. Use your palms to roll the mixture into small ping pong-sized balls, about 1” rounds. Wet your hands slightly if it helps.
Roll each ball in coconut to coat.
Store in an air-tight container in the fridge up to two weeks.
This recipe is very versatile and will accommodate any dried fruit or nut mixture that you prefer. Try prunes, dried figs and apricots with the dates for a different twist, or cashews, walnuts and pine nuts instead of almonds.
Dates vary widely in size and juiciness. You may find that depending on the softness of your dates, the entire mixture is moister or yields more. If the mix is too moist before adding the water, add more nuts or nut butter and omit the water. If it's too dry and won't cling together, add the water, pulse, and add more dates or nut butter to bind.