I think it was about time I shared another sweet recipe here on the blog again. And if you read my last post, about my own personal history with food (sugar in particular) and how I made eventually made peace with it all, then you will know that I love the taste of sweet.
Dates are such a versatile food. They are sweet and sticky and actually good for you with a high amount of fibre, but also the vitamin and mineral content like zinc (for immune system) magnesium (for energy production), iron (for red blood cells) and potassium (for nervous system).
Because of their “stickability” they work really well in all types of raw desserts as they so seamlessly hold everything together. I also love that when we are using dates as sweeteners we tend to use the whole fruit, just like nature intended.
This recipe is based on a typical traditional Swedish recipe and one we made time and time again as kids – Choklad Bollar.
The original recipe calls for butter, sugar, oats and cacao powder. And perhaps a little coffee too.
Here I have replaced the butter and sugar with the dates and added some melted cacao butter as fat. You can use coconut oil too.
Traditionally “Choklad Bollar are rolled in desiccated coconut, which I personally like though I made another version of these for a recent talk I did locally and rolled them in some melted dark chocolate and some roughly chopped toasted hazelnuts. Much like a giant Ferro Roche… Yeah, just imagine! Totally worth the extra effort.
Chocolate Oat & Date Balls
Makes about 10 medium sized balls
½ cup rolled (porridge) oats
20 small pitted dates – or use about 10 soft Medjool dates
2 tbsp raw cacao powder
6 tbsp strong coffee – or use same amount of water
2 tbsp melted cacao butter – or coconut oil
Shredded coconut to coat the balls in
First blend the oats in your food processor until you have a rough ground texture. Soak the dates in some hot water for about 1 min, then drain. Just to soften them a little. If you are using Medjool dates you can skip this step as they tend to be much softer. However don’t forget to remove the pits!
Add the rest of the ingredients to your food processor and blend until it all comes together like a sof dough.
Roll the dough into small balls with your hands and roll them in some shredded coconut.
Store in an airtight container in the fridge. They will keep for a few days.
(I’m always musing to myself about the difference between the words “keep” and “last”. To be honest, I am actually just guessing how long they will “keep” for, since I’ve never had any “last” long enough to see when they would be gone off…)
Can you have sweet treats that are actually beneficial to your health and body? I, for one, would like to think so.
It can be so confusing knowing what to eat these days… However if you stick to the “wholefood principle” you can’t go too far wrong. The overall message coming through from research done in the field of nutrition and health still seem to echo that food which are close to nature IS the most beneficial kind of food for our health. This is also probably the one thing everybody in the field of nutrition and health agrees on, regardless of what food camp they belong to.
I really like simple when it comes to cooking. If you have beautiful fresh ingredients to hand, usually this is the best way to allow them to bask in their own glory. That said, I truly appreciate people who have the skills of Culinary Art, and the ability to create wonderful dishes full of complexity and flavour. If you’ve ever watched Master Chef (the Australian version is my favourite), then you know what I mean! Impressive attention to detail, dedication and passion. My life is often complicated and busy enough on most days though, to be able to cook like that. And if you are like most people, I’m guessing that yours might be too. So how about we just stick with simple for now?
I’ve had a couple of recipes using raw cacao here before. Like this one with peanut butter and coconut oil. It’s actually quiet easy to make your own. Here I’ve used some silicon molds that I bought a few months ago. I think using them, gives a slight creative edge… 😉 And they are certainly vital if you want to make chocolate with fillings!
From some trial and testing I’ve found maple syrup to my preferred type of sweetener for raw chocolate making. It seems to be the one which blends the easiest with the raw cacao butter and the cacao powder. It is a completely natural sweetener made from the sap of the maple tree. Yes it is a sugar, yes too much sugar isn’t all that great for our health and can contribute a whole host of chronic disease, but remember what I said earlier about “wholefoods” and “close to nature”? And I don’t know about where you live, but over here it is a fairly expensive product so I for one don’t tend to consume it in any larger quantities. Most over-consumption of sugar (usually in the form of High Fructose Syrup) comes from an over-consumption of processed food… Just saying.
Sesame seeds, used here in the form of Tahini has several health promoting benefits like being good for the skin due to its content of the antioxidant Vitamin E. Some studies has also shown sesame seeds to be strengthening to the heart and protective of the liver. It’s also worth nothing that sesame seeds are a high in calcium, which may alone be a good reason to include them in your diet, just to make sure you have a variety of calcium sources to keep “them bones” healthy.
Tahini can be a little bitter. To be honest, it’s taken me some time to become a fan, but I really like it now. I haven’t included any maple syrup here in the filling as I think the juice from the orange has enough sweetness and breaks through that bitterness. Taste it and if you want the filling a little sweeter then add a drop of maple syrup.
If you are still stuck for some Christmas present ideas and want to give a gift with a difference this year, then why not make a batch (or two) of these? Place them in a cute box wrapped with pretty paper – done!
Tahini – Orange Filled Raw Chocolates
Makes about 10 – depending on type of mold you use
90 g raw cacao butter
20 g raw cacao powder
4 tbsp maple syrup
2 tbsp Tahini
1 tbsp freshly squeezed orange juice
finely grated zest of 1/2 organic orange
Melt the cacao butter in a bowl over a saucepan of boiling water. Once the cacao butter is fully melted remove the saucepan from the heat but keep your bowl with the cacao butter on top. Add the cacao powder and mix with a spoon or small whisk until smooth. Then add in the maple syrup and stir again until it’s nice and smooth.
Carefully remove the bowl with the chocolate mixture. If possible, take care to not get steam into the mixture as this will cause the chocolate to split. Take out your mold and fill each section to just under half. Place the mold in the fridge to harden.
In the meantime mix tahini, orange juice and orange zest together in a small bowl or glass. Taste is and if you think it’s too bitter then feel free to add a little maple syrup to taste.
After about 30 min, when your chocolate in the fridge has hardened, take out the mold and carefully spoon a little tahini mix on to each of your chocolates. Then fill up the rest of each mold with more chocolate. Place back into the fridge and allow to set completely.
*Note to keep the chocolate mixture fluid for your second addition, simply place your bowl over the saucepan with the hot water from before. If it starts to set, reheat the water some more.
Once the chocolates are fully set, usually after 2-3h in the fridge, pop them out of the mold and store in a container.
The chocolates are best stored in the fridge and eaten within a week.
I almost forgot to mention that this post will also count as a celebration of this blog turning two! Well technically it is a month too late, but I never found time to write about it last month…
A (good) few week’s ago I got sent a lovely box of goodies to try from the superfood company Iswari. The company has it’s head quarters in Kinsale, Co. Cork, not a million miles away from where I live. Teaming up with a company that offers great quality products, sustainable ethos and is based locally kinda feels like a no-brainer. So I’m happy to give you all a delicious recipe made with their raw cacao butter.
If you have never come across cacao butter before, you may be unsure how to use it. Cacao butter is the fat from the cacao bean. It is separated from the cacao liquor and drained away, only to be added back in at a later stage of chocolate-making. What’s left after this process is then grounded into the cacao powder we know
Cacao butter is a fat which is solid at room temperature but melts quiet easily at body temperature, around 34°C. In fact it’s often used in skin and beauty products and with a few simple moderations to this recipe you can make a nice skin moisturiser! Cacao butter, even without the cacao powder has a lovely chocolate aroma.
Even though most of the health boosting properties from chocolate is found in the cacao powder the white solid fat is always added back in later in the chocolate-making process and whether you are making your own chocolate or buying it you want to use cacao butter (or make sure whatever you’r buying has a high cacao butter content) It’s the cacao butter which help make the chocolate creamy and gives it that snappy consistency.
I went for a different kind of chocolate treat here though. For some people the caffeine content of chocolate can make them feel all jittery and not all that awesome. (Luckily I’m not one of them) So a white variety without the cacao powder, may be better suited. Commercial white chocolate is made by adding milk solids, soy lecithin, refined sugar and vanilla and is usually not all that great for you.
Here I’ve paired the raw cacao butter from Iswari with some pure creamed coconut. You can buy creamed coconut in most Asian store for a reasonable price. It comes in a solid block (at room temperature) and is basically pressed coconut meat and nothing else. The beauty of using creamed coconut instead of coconut oil is that the creamed coconut still contains all the fibre from the coconut meat + all the lovely health benefits from the coconut oil.
So what you end up with here is a naturally dairy free white chocolate, not overly sweet and boosted with some super foods.
I added some bee pollen, freeze dried berries and some black sesame seeds, both to boost the nutritional value and to increase the aesthetic appeal. Because I feel we eat as much with out eyes as we do with our other senses.
A short note of Bee Pollen. It comes from the male germ cell of flowering plants. After the bee has pollinated the female flowers, the remainder of the male pollen is collected and brought back to the hive. Back at the hive the bees add enzymes and nectar to the pollen. These lovely tiny golden nuggets are often referred to as “nature’s most perfect food” as they contain all of the 8 essential amino acids we need for survival. Bee pollen also provides B-vitamins, vitamin C, carotenes and mineral. (Source: The Encyclopaedia of Healing Foods)
Add some of these little gems on top of your smoothie or as here in your wholefood’s treat for a true super food boost. And bring out your inner artist!
This white chocolate recipe is really easy to make and takes literally no time at all.
Super boosted White Chocolate (dairy free)
Makes about 30 generous pieces
50g raw Iswari cacao butter
200g creamed coconut
1-2 tbsp pure maple syrup
1/2 tsp pure vanilla powder
1 tbsp bee pollen
1 tbsp freeze dried raspberries or blackberries – optional
1 tbsp black sesame seeds – optional
Roughly chop the creamed coconut. Place the coconut and the cacao butter in a bowl over a sauce pan with simmering water. Gently melt the coconut and cacao butter while stirring until you have smooth paste.
Remove from heat. Add the maple syrup and vanilla powder. Continue to stir until the maple syrup and vanilla is fully integrated with the chocolate mix.
Pour the mix out on a small tray lined with parchment paper. Let it cool a little before you add the toppings but don’t allow it to fully set. You want your toppings to sink into the chocolate. Finally allow the chocolate to completely set in the fridge before cutting it into squares.
Store your chocolate in the fridge as it melt in warmer temperatures. Enjoy 🙂
A big thank you to Iswari for allowing me to play with some lovely ingredients! I also tried out this lovely breakfast option and if you are looking for something to take with you on your summer travels / festivals / sporting adventures this is a nice one for sure.
Find out more about Iswari on FB and on Twitter
*This is a sponsored post. No money was received and all opinions are completely my own.
Have you ever tried raw chocolate or even better still, tried to make our own? It isn’t half as difficult as you may think.
I can still remember a few years ago when I ordered my first ever bag of raw cacao powder from the internet. I was soooo excited! Because I have a seriously sweet tooth and I love chocolate. I couldn’t wait to open the bag and taste this amazing, super nutritious stuff.
And then… Disappointment. It was so bitter. Of course it was. It was raw cacao powder, on its own. Not paired up with a whole load of sugar, cacao butter and other stuff. I don’t really know what I was expecting. Seriously. It kind of shows how hardwired our taste expectations are too, doesn’t it? Have you ever had a similar experience? Our taste buds seems to so be closely connected to our sense of smell, and any previous taste experiences are safely stored for future reference in out memory.
Perhaps this was once a form of protection, essential to survival? I do remember reading somewhere that taste is strongly linked to an innate recognition of the safety of eating plants growing wild in nature. If something doesn’t taste pleasant we are less likely to swallow it. We are much more likely to spit it out instead. Which comes in very handy if the food is actually a poisonous one!
I often hear people say “I don’t like this”. ” I don’t like that, it’s too bitter (or not sweet enough!)”. The thing is, our taste buds are a bit like the rest of our body, they can change and develop with practice. There’s lots of foods I didn’t like a few years ago but which are now clear favourites. Things like ginger, beetroot and tahini where not exactly love at first sight for me. Instead the flavor-relationship with these foods have gradually evolved and deepened over time. You really need to persist and keep trying things for a good few times before you completely dismiss a new food. Practice. Patience. Persistence. Like with so many other things in life.
This recipe is a creation I came up with after a little conversation and inspiration on Instagram. I have experimented with raw chocolate for a few months and some experiments has been less than successful. Others a little better. I came across the stunning feed of Ditte Ingemann (@ditsen) and she has by far one of my favourite Instagram accounts. She also has a lovely website, in Danish. Anyway, one day Ditte posted this gorgeous picture of some raw chocolate which she had adapted from another recipe. She kindly gave me the bones of the recipe and her ingredients and I took it from there, using what I happened to have to hand.
If you are trying to cut down on sugar but not on flavour, then this chocolate might be for you. I have found maple syrup to work best when you make raw chocolate like this. It gives the cacao a lovely sweetness without being overpowering and integrates quiet easily with the fats. The ingredients for making raw chocolate at home, may not be the cheapest but on the upside, you’ll get something that is so jam-packed with flavour that a little goes a long way really.
We are using a combination of coconut oil and cacao butter here. This will give you a less snappy chocolate than if you are using cacao butter alone. For a cheaper alternative you can of course use coconut oil on its own. However you will end up with a very soft end product and since it will melt rather fast you will need to store it in the freezer rather than the fridge. This chocolate will be way too soft if you leave the it hanging around for too long at room temperature. Somehow, I doubt this will be a problem though…
Easy Peasy Peanut Butter Chocolate
Makes about 30 squares
50g cacao butter
2 heaped tbsp coconut oil – raw & cold pressed
1 heaped tbsp crunchy peanut butter – swap for any other nut butter if you want
2 heaped tbsp raw cacao powder
2-3 tbsp maple syrup – depending on desired sweetness
A tiny pinch of sea salt or Himalayan pink salt
Melt the coconut oil, peanut butter and cacao butter in a bowl over a pan hot water. Once the fats are fully melted and liquid add in the maple syrup and the raw cacao powder. Stir for a minute or two until you have a really smooth cacao mix. Taste and add a little more maple syrup if you still think it is too bitter. Add in the pinch of salt. Remove the bowl from the stove and pour it all on to a tray lined with parchment paper. Let the mix cool slightly before transferring it to the fridge to set. After a few hours take the tray out and cut your chocolate into small-ish squares.
Store in an airtight container in the fridge. Your raw chocolate will keep for a few days in the fridge. Probably longer in the freezer.
*NB. This chocolate has a very short list of ingredients. Check how many your usual bar has next time you are temped to buy one…
P.S Our firs Blogiversary is coming up next month so there is sure to be more chocolate involved then 🙂 Oh and there will be a great give away too!! I can’t wait to celebrate with you all.