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Chocolate Almond Coconut Date Truffles

Chocolate Almond Coconut Date Truffles

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It’s ten minutes after dinner, and you suddenly get the craving for something sweet.

Maybe you’re cleaning up the dishes, or checking over the kids’ homework, or settling in for some Netflix. Whatever you’re doing, when you have these Chocolate Almond Coconut Date Truffles on hand, you have a sweet way to answer your sugar cravings – but with no refined sugar.

Chocolate Almond Coconut Date Truffles

These truffles are packed with all the flavors of that coconut-almond-chocolate candy bar you know, but are naturally sweet thanks to pitted dates. Lightly toasted slivered almonds add extra nutty flavor, and the chocolate flavor comes from unsweetened cocoa powder. For this recipe, I used Trader Joe’s Unsweetened Cocoa Powder. It blends up smoothly and tastes rich; it’s great cocoa powder, and perfect for this recipe.

Unsweetened coconut used to be more difficult to find, but it seems that coconut in all forms has become a lot more popular lately, so finding the unsweetened variety should be easier. I found my unsweetened coconut at an Indian grocery store. I like the finer texture for both mixing into the truffles and rolling at the end. If you can’t find finely-shredded unsweetened coconut, you could pulse a coarser variety in your blender or food processor a few times to break it down a bit more.

A word about toasting nuts

If you’re a dedicated multitasker (like me!) and think you can get away with setting up the food processor, making some tea, etc. while toasting nuts on the stove… you’re probably wrong. These babies go from zero to overly toasted and burnt in no time flat. So keep and eye on them, and toss or stir them often. The entire process takes about 5 minutes.

toasted almonds in pan

If they’re over-toasted or taste burned, they’re no good. These truffles don’t have a lot of excess sugar to counteract any bitter, burned flavors. Toast carefully.

Making the truffles

When the nuts are done, transfer them to the bowl of a food processor and allow them to cool for a bit. Then add the cocoa powder and pulse until finely chopped.

chopped nuts and cocoa in a food processor

When you’re processing the almonds and cocoa, you’re looking for an evenly-chopped mixture, not a paste. Don’t process too long, or you’ll have chocolate almond butter. (Hmmm…)

After you add the coconut, vanilla, and dates, pulse the mixture until you still have some quarter-inch date chunks. That’s when it’s time to add the water, and the dates will be fully processed by the time you’re finished.

date almond mixture

 

The amount of water you’ll need to add depends on the moisture content of your dates. I’ve had to use anywhere from 3-5 tsp of water, sprinkled over the mixture as you continue to pulse it in the food processor. It’s ready to go when the mixture begins to pull together and travel around the food processor bowl in larger clumps.

photo of mixture clumping in a food processor

When you pinch a bit of the mixture together at this stage, it should hold together easily.

Divide the mixture into balls using a tablespoon dipped in water. You should get about 14 one-tablespoon-sized balls. Roll them in coconut. I like to place 3 of them in a ramekin and swirl it in a circle on the countertop. This coats the balls quickly and easily.

truffle balls in coconut

Serve right away, or refrigerate in a sealed container.

These rarely last more than two days in my house. Hide them in the back of the refrigerator if you must.

Chocolate Almond Coconut Date Truffles

These Chocolate Almond Coconut Date Truffles are a sweet way to answer your sugar cravings - but with no refined sugar. They're packed with all the flavors of that coconut-almond-chocolate candy bar you know, but are naturally sweet thanks to pitted dates.

Course Dessert, Snack
Prep Time 15 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Servings 14 truffles
Author Rachel

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup slivered almonds
  • 3 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder see notes below
  • 24 pitted dates
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut divided
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3-5 tsp water

Instructions

  1. In a dry skillet, lightly toast the almonds over low heat until golden and fragrant, being careful not to over-toast. (They should not smell bitter or burned.) When finished, pour them into the bowl of a food processor and allow to cool for a few minutes.

  2. Add cocoa powder. Pulse until nuts are finely chopped. Don't over-process - you don't want to make nut butter!

  3. Add the dates and 1/4 cup of the coconut. Sprinkle with the vanilla extract. Pulse until the dates are chopped into pieces about 1/4 inch in size.

  4. Sprinkle the mixture with 3 tsp of water. Continue to blend the mixture in long pulses, adding more water 1/2 tsp at a time, until it starts to come together in clumps. 

  5. When you can pinch the mixture and it holds together, it's time to form the balls. Measure out tablespoon-sized amounts and roll them into balls. You should get about 14 balls.

  6. Roll the balls in the remaining 1/4 cup of coconut. Store truffles in the refrigerator or enjoy immediately.

Recipe Notes

Use a good-quality unsweetened cocoa powder for this recipe. I like Trader Joe's Unsweetened Cocoa Powder.

Nutrition Information

Nutrition information provided is an estimate. Actual nutrient values may vary.

Roasted Beet, Walnut, and Gorgonzola Salad

Roasted Beet, Walnut and Gorgonzola Salad

A hearty winter salad made from roasted beets, toasted walnuts, and creamy gorgonzola with a lightly herbed olive oil vinaigrette.

Roasted vegetable salads keep me eating salads in the winter, when I don’t necessarily want a bowl of cold greens. This Roasted Beet, Walnut and Gorgonzola salad is a little bit salad, and a little bit side dish.

I love beets, and they’re one of my favorite vegetable to roast. We especially love to spiralize them, which speeds up the roasting time, and honestly, makes them just a little more fun to eat. If you don’t have a spiralizer, you can also slice the beets or cut them into chunks. As long as they’re all about the same size, you’ll be ok. Adjust your roasting time accordingly.

There aren’t many things I like better with beets than creamy gorgonzola and toasted walnuts. They both add some protein, and walnuts have lots of healthy fats.

Yup. Toasted walnuts and creamy gorgonzola are right at home in this salad. And then it’s finished off with a simple herbed vinaigrette made with sherry vinegar. The recipe for the dressing is based on Food 52’s instructions on how to create a vinaigrette without a recipe, and their formula is easy to memorize and will forever change the way you dress salads:

3:1 (oil to vinegar) + emulsifier (dijon mustard) + sweetener (honey, agave, whatever) + herbs and seasonings

Roasted Beet, Walnut and Gorgonzola Salad

This recipe for vinaigrette will make a lot – about a cup. You won’t need a lot for each salad, just a drizzle to add a perk of acid and pull it all together. We like to keep the rest in the refrigerator in a squeeze bottle, mason jar, or cruet.

Roasted Beet, Walnut, and Gorgonzola Salad

Course Side Dish
Servings 2
Author Rachel

Ingredients

For the Salad

  • 2 beets spiralized with fettuccine blade, or sliced
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 small red onion very thinly sliced or spiralized
  • 1/4 cup walnuts
  • 1 tbsp gorgonzola cheese crumbled

For the Vinaigrette

  • 1/4 cup sherry vinegar
  • 1 heaping tsp dijon mustard
  • 1/2 shallot finely minced
  • 1/2 tsp fresh thyme minced
  • 1/2 tsp fresh oregano minced
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

Prepare the Salad Ingredients

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

  2. Prepare the beets by scrubbing them clean with a brush and trimming the stem and root ends. If desired, spiralized them with a fettuccine blade. Or, slice them into julienne strips.

  3. Spread beets on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Drizzle with oil and toss to coat, then season with salt and fresh black pepper.

  4. Bake for 18 minutes.

  5. Meanwhile, toast the walnuts in a small, dry skillet over medium-low heat, being careful not to over-toast or burn them. Remove from skillet and set aside.

Prepare the Vinaigrette

  1. In a bowl or blender container, combine all ingredients except olive oil.

  2. While adding oil in a thin stream, whisk constantly until emulsified. Or, run a blender on medium-low speed and drizzle oil in through the top to emulsify.

Assemble the Salad

  1. Layer beets, slivered red onion, walnuts, and gorgonzola on plates, and drizzle with the vinaigrette. Enjoy!

Recipe Notes

This vinaigrette recipe is based on Food52's excellent article on How to Make a Vinaigrette Without a Recipe. Their proportions are spot-on, and learning them has opened up the possibilities for so many tasty homemade dressings.

You will have leftover dressing - this makes about a cup. We like to store the leftovers in squeeze bottles or mason jars and keep them in the refrigerator. 

Peppadew Sweet Pepper Relish

Peppadew Sweet Pepper Relish

The crisp, firm texture, bright sweetness and subtle heat of Peppadew Peppers makes them ideal for a spicy Peppadew relish. This Peppadew Relish is a condiment you’ll want to keep on hand for topping burgers, mixing with cream cheese to serve with fresh vegetables, or stuffing inside small tomatoes for an easy appetizer.

What’s a Peppadew?

If you haven’t encountered Peppadew peppers yet, it’s because they are a relatively new product. Discovered in 1993 in the Limpopo province of South Africa, Peppadews are now exclusively cultivated there, pickled in a sweet vinegar brine, and sold as a trademarked product of Peppadew International. The company describes them on the label as “piquanté peppers.” It’s not clear which cultivar of pepper plant they come from, but they seem to be closely-related to a hot cherry pepper, or at least their taste and texture is similar.

What sets Peppadew peppers apart is their refreshing (thus the “dew” part of the name) crisp texture, relatively mild heat, and sweet picking treatment that perfectly balances their spiciness. They are best eaten only briefly cooked (such as on a pizza), or eaten raw as part of an appetizer (stuffed with cheddar cheese), a salad, or made into this zingy Peppadew Relish.

Being the DIYer and occasional gardener, while I was researching the Peppadew for this post, I though, “can I grow Peppadew plants and pickle these little peppers myself?” As it turns out, the answer is noooooo! – unless you are willing to engage in international plant piracy and the illegal importation of an agricultural product. (I am not.)

As I discovered, the Peppadew variety is actually rights-protected by The International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV). As such, the plants or seeds are not sold by Peppadew International, although some people do acquire them through nefarious means. I’ve heard that birds carry the peppers away from the fenced and guarded fields where they grow these peppers in South Africa, and people collect the seeds. It’s still probably illegal if someone plants those seeds, but I’m sure the birds who drop the peppers a few miles away aren’t lawyering up anytime soon. Life… finds a way! That said, besides being illegal, it is a bad idea to sneak non-native species, animals or plants, into places they do not belong!

Where can I find Peppadews?

So, how do you legally acquire some Peppadew peppers? They’re often sold in bulk near the olives and other bulk relishes. You might also find them in jars (mild or hot – go for mild), or you can buy them online. They are most often red, but I’ve started seeing a bright yellow-orange variety show up called Goldew. What’s lovely about both varieties are their texture and flavor. Choose firm, non-mushy peppers to ensure that they are as crisp and juicy as possible.

I originally developed this recipe to top some lamb burgers, along with a parmesan crisp. While the burgers were tasty, as it turned out, this relish really needs to sit after it’s prepared so the flavors have a chance to meld together. So make it a day ahead if you can, and stash it in the fridge. Then use it to top sandwiches, deviled eggs, cheese and crackers, or blend into cream cheese for an excellent veggie dip. (I’m excited to post the specific recipe for this dip soon! You might want to follow me on Facebook or subscribe to my email list so you don’t miss it.)

Peppadew Sweet Pepper Relish

The crisp, firm texture, bright sweetness and subtle heat of Peppadew Peppers makes them ideal for a spicy Peppadew relish. This Peppadew Relish is a condiment you'll want to keep on hand for topping burgers, mixing with cream cheese to serve with fresh vegetables, or stuffing inside small tomatoes for an easy appetizer.

Ingredients

  • 1 small shallot halved
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 tbsp parsley leaves packed
  • 8 oz red Peppadew peppers drained
  • 8 oz golden Peppadew peppers drained
  • 2 tsp capers drained
  • 1/2 tsp agave nectar
  • 1/4 tsp salt or to taste
  • fresh ground pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. In a food processor, add shallot, garlic, and parsley. Pulse until finely minced, occasionally scraping large unchopped bits from the sides.

  2. Add remaining ingredients. Pulse until chopped evenly, scraping sides a needed. You're looking for a consistency similar to sweet pickle relish. Adjust seasoning as needed.

  3. Store in an airtight container and refrigerate overnight before serving.

Carrot Apple Spice Smoothie

Carrot Apple Spice Smoothie

It’s Thanksgiving week, and I’m already leaning into a relaxed holiday pace. I took my time getting ready for work this morning, and had breakfast with my 2-year old, Toby, at home. As the little guy enjoyed his banana and trail mix in his jammies, I tossed some fruits and veggies into the blender for a breakfast smoothie.

My smoothies usually start with unsweetened vanilla almond milk as the liquid, and fermented vegan vanilla protein powder. Today I added vanilla almond butter for extra nuttiness. Frozen banana and avocado provide creaminess and healthy fats, rounded out by plenty of fresh raw carrots and an apple.

This smoothie reminds me of the thick, creamy consistency of a layered pumpkin dessert my mom used to make, without the pumpkin. I used apple pie spice because that’s what was handy, but you could substitute cinnamon, nutmeg, and just a hint of cloves if you have them. Pumpkin pie spice wouldn’t be bad, either.

I use a Vitamix for smoothies, and the high-speed motor handles roughly-chopped raw carrots. If you don’t have a high-speed blender, using shredded or chopped carrots may help make it easier to blend.

Carrot Apple Spice Smoothie


Course Breakfast
Prep Time 5 minutes
Servings 2

Ingredients

  • 1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 1 tsp light agave nectar
  • 1 scoop vanilla protein powder
  • 1/8 tsp Apple Pie Spice see note below
  • 1/2 frozen avocado
  • 1 frozen ripe banana
  • 2 tbsp Nathan's Vanilla Almond Butter
  • 1 cup carrots roughly chopped
  • 1 small to medium apple cored but not peeled

Instructions

  1. In a high-speed blender, add ingredients in order (almond milk first.)

  2. Blend at high speed or on smoothie setting for 50 seconds, until smooth.

  3. Makes 2 servings.

Recipe Notes

I use Penzey's Apple Pie Spice. It's a blend of two types of cinnamon, nutmeg, mace, and cloves. A good substitution would be 1/8 tsp cinnamon, a bit of grated nutmeg, and a dash of ground cloves.