snack Archives - Birdseed Kitchen

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.

Thai Lime and Chili Roasted Chickpeas

Thai Lime and Chili Roasted Chickpeas - birdseedkitchen.com

Tangy, savory, and spicy, these crispy Thai Lime and Chili Roasted Chickpeas pack a punch of spicy and savory Thai flavors. Baked in the oven, they are a protein-packed healthier way to satisfy your salty snack craving.

Ever since I tried Trader Joe’s Thai Lime and Chili Cashews, I have loved the flavors of tangy lime, spicy chili, aromatic lemongrass, and Funky Umami (new band name!) in a snack food.

But here’s my problem: the nearest Trader Joe’s is over 100 miles away.

So I set forth into the kitchen on this long holiday weekend to try to replicate those flavors, or at least come close. And here’s the point in the post where you might expect a fun story about how I came up with the recipe, or a bit of backstory about a particular ingredient.

But I’m not going to do that.

Because you need this recipe… RIGHT. NOW.

Thai Lime and Chili Roasted Chickpeas - birdseedkitchen.com

So let’s get to it: these flavors are soooo good. And if you haven’t had roasted chickpeas, you’re missing out on a super-tasty, high-protein snack. I barely had enough of these left to photograph, because everyone munched on them right out of the oven.

Make sure you let them cool completely before storing them in a sealed container, because you don’t want any steam to reduce their crispness.

So here they are: Thai Lime and Chili Roasted Chickpeas. Also known as: your newest snacking addiction. Enjoy!

Thai Lime and Chili Roasted Chickpeas - birdseedkitchen.com

Thai Lime and Chili Roasted Chickpeas

Tangy, savory, and spicy, these crispy roasted chickpeas with Thai flavors are a healthier way to satisfy your craving for a salty snack.

Course Snack
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Servings 8
Author Rachel

Ingredients

  • 1 can (29 oz) chickpeas
  • 2 tbsp canola or olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp fish sauce (or soy sauce for vegan option)
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/8 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tbsp lemongrass finely minced
  • 4 Kaffir lime leaves finely minced
  • zest of one lime

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment.

  2. Drain and rinse chickpeas. Spread out on a clean kitchen towel or a baking sheet lined with paper towels and pat to dry thoroughly. Set aside.

  3. In a medium bowl, combine remaining ingredients. Add chickpeas to the bowl and toss with oil mixture until well-coated.

  4. Pour chickpeas onto parchment-lined baking sheet. Be sure to scrape the bowl - don't leave that flavor behind!

  5. Roast for 45-50 minutes, shaking pan every 15 minutes, until golden brown and crisp.

  6. Allow to cool completely before storing in an airtight container. (If they last that long!)

 

Bengal Spice Chai Muddy Buddies

Bengal Spice Muddy Buddies - chai spice flavor muddy buddies

Bengal Spice Chai Muddy Buddies: a chai-flavored snack made from a sweet herbal tea with the flavors of cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, black pepper, cloves and nutmeg.

I am a life-long fan of Chex Mix. Mom made some every year along with the Christmas cookies and candies, and it was a welcome break from all the sweetness. She used the original recipe, made with melted margarine, garlic powder, onion powder, and more than a little worcestershire sauce. Sometimes we made a hot-and-spicy version.

I’m not sure who came up with the idea for muddy buddies, the sweet version of Chex mix (a.k.a. “puppy chow”) but I want to knight that person with a wooden spoon. (“I dub thee… Sir Sweetus of Chexington!”) The first time I had muddy buddies, they were the (original, I assume?) chocolate and peanut butter version – Chex cereal, coated with a mix of melted chocolate chips and peanut butter, then enrobed in velvety powdered sugar. They are the original, and probably the best, version of muddy buddies.

The first new flavor of muddy buddies I encountered was snickerdoodle. Besides being a great insult and/or substitute swear word when you’re around the kids, the snickerdoodle is one of my favorite cookies. It’s chewy and soft, like all cookies should be, and it’s my dad’s favorite cookie. So the snickerdoodle muddy buddies were very addictive, and the bag didn’t last long. Soon I was roaming around Pinterest, looking for a recipe.

Find one I did – and now I have the power to create a portable snickerdoodle snack in less than 15 minutes, using only one bowl and no oven. Whelp. Pinterest, you are my weakness.

As it turns out, there are many creative versions of muddy buddies out there as well: mint chocolate, s’mores, chocolate churro, cookie butter (speculoos! – I never miss a chance to say that), Nutella, butterbeer, samoaunicorn poop… and the list goes on. I started thinking about how I could infuse different flavors into my own muddy buddy versions, and I thought the chai-like flavors of Celestial Seasonings’ Bengal Spice Tea would make a delicious sweet snack.

The flavors in this herbal tea infuse readily into melted butter. I melt the butter together with the tea in a small saucepan, simmer on low (barely bubbling) for about 10 minutes, then strain the solids out and press them to extract all the butter. Then, because I like a strong, spicy flavor, I add a teaspoon of the grounds back into butter while it’s being mixed with melted white chocolate. If this is too strong for you, add less than a teaspoon.

Bengal Spice Muddy Buddies

I’m already thinking about the next flavor-infused muddy buddies I’ll make. Green tea? Earl grey? Or… what about coffee?

Bengal Spice Chai Muddy Buddies

Course Snack
Prep Time 15 minutes
Servings 16 servings

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 5 bags Celestial Seasonings Bengal Spice Tea
  • 2 cups Ghirardelli White Chocolate Chips (1 11-oz bag)
  • 8 cups Corn Chex cereal
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

Instructions

  1. Add powdered sugar to a gallon-sized zipper bag and set aside.

  2. In a small saucepan, melt butter over low heat. Open teabags and tea to the butter. Stir to combine.

  3. Simmer on low heat for 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Mixture should be barely bubbling. Make sure the butter does not burn.

  4. Remove from heat. Pour through a fine strainer and press on the grounds to remove all of the butter.

  5. Add 1 tsp of grounds to the butter mixture and set aside.

  6. In a large bowl, microwave white chocolate chips on 1-2 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds. When chips are completely melted, add butter and stir well.

  7. Pour melted chocolate over cereal, and gently fold to combine.

  8. Pour immediately into zipper bag. Seal bag and shake to coat cereal.

  9. Spread on cookie sheet. Cool for at least one hour. Store in a tightly-sealed container.

 

Vegan Mushroom and Black Walnut Tartlets

Mushroom and Black Walnut Tartlets (Vegan)

A hearty vegan paté of earthy mushrooms, black walnuts, and velvety cashew cream is nestled into flaky puff pastry squares to create this crowd-pleasing vegan appetizer: Mushroom and Black Walnut Tartlets.

I’m the kind of person who wanders around a grocery store like it’s my second home. I usually have a list, but it’s just wishful thinking, because I’m never just shopping – I’m also designing. It seems like there is always a new ingredient to try, or something that’s ready to be rediscovered.

This time, I rediscovered black walnuts, an ingredient I grew up with. My grandpa’s large black walnut tree yielded literal buckets of black walnuts every year. He kept them in a shed behind the house, ready to be dried, husked, and cracked on the back porch. Grandma always had bags of black walnuts in her freezer, often using them in banana bread or oatmeal cookies. Black walnuts are the walnuts of my childhood.

Banana bread seemed like a good place to start. I pulled a card from Grandma’s recipe box, which I recently acquired after she passed away this September. I made a loaf with black walnuts, and another loaf with milder english walnuts, per the request of my son Lance who – as it turns out – does not like black walnuts. It was Lance who pointed out why: black walnuts have a funky, earthy, blue-cheesy taste. And Lance does not like blue cheese.

“Hmm,” I thought. “What if I used black walnuts as a stand-in for the flavor of blue cheese?” That would be perfect for something VEGAN!

I was vegan for a short time, and although I am no longer, I have a lasting appreciation and respect for vegan cooking. Nowhere have I found more creative and resourceful chefs and home cooks than in this community. I mean, someone took an ingredient like the leftover water from a can of chickpeas, whipped it into a foam, and now we have aquafaba, a vegan ingredient that’s remarkably like whipped egg whites. (Disclaimer, I have yet to try this, but the preceding link has some amazing-looking ideas. VEGAN MERINGUE, right?)

With the holidays coming up, I wanted to create a savory vegan appetizer. This began with a riff on Todd English’s mushroom puree from The Figs Table, which you should also definitely try. I wanted to create a sort of vegan paté consistency, and I knew I would need an ingredient to stand in for cream. Blending raw cashews in a high-speed blender creates a quick cashew cream. (You could skip this step entirely if you want to use a non-sweetened nut milk creamer that’s ready-made. Go for it.)

If you don’t have a high-speed blender, you should probably soak the cashews overnight in enough water to cover them, then drain the water and add fresh water before blending. Soaking softens them up quite a bit, and will help you achieve a smoother, less grainy puree.

You don’t have to toast the walnuts, and I’ve certainly skipped toasting nuts before – but the extra step is worth it. Toasting brings out the flavor of the black walnuts, and you want as much of that funky cheesiness as you can get.

Lastly, Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry is quickly becoming one of my must-have-on-hand pantry items. It keeps for a long time in the freezer, thaws quickly on the countertop, and is a fun base to use for a quick appetizer or to top a homemade pot pie. When I thought of how easily it bakes up into crisp, flaky layers, I knew it would be the perfect pairing for this paté. And, it’s accidentally vegan!

I hope you enjoy these tasty little bites. Their earthy flavors would be perfect for a winter holiday party. If you make these, show me on Instagram: @birdseedkitchen.

Vegan Mushroom and Black Walnut Tartlets

Course Appetizer
Cuisine Vegan
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Servings 32 puffs

Ingredients

  • 2 sheets Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry thawed
  • 1/2 cup chopped black walnuts
  • 1 cup raw cashews
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup dried porcini mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup hot water
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 medium white onion chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic chopped
  • 2 tbsp dry red wine
  • 1/2 tsp rosemary chopped
  • 1/2 tsp fresh thyme leaves chopped
  • 3 oz oyster mushrooms chopped
  • 10 oz baby portobello mushrooms chopped
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt or to taste
  • 2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped for garnishing

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

  2. Unfold two sheets of puff pastry. Cut each into 16 equal-sized squares. Cover with a damp kitchen towel and set aside.

  3. Place dried porcini mushrooms in a bowl and cover with hot water. Set aside to soften.

  4. In a blender, combine cashews and 3/4 cup water. Blend at high speed until smooth and creamy, scraping the sides of the blender as needed to ensure an even consistency. Remove cashew cream from blender, add to an airtight container, and set aside. (You will have cashew cream left over. It's necessary to make a larger quantity than you need because the blender can process this quantity more easily.)

    There's no need to wash the blender container at this point - you will be using it to process the mushroom mixture near the end of the recipe.

  5. Heat a large skillet over medium-low heat. Toss the chopped black walnuts into the heated dry skillet. Toast until lightly brown and fragrant, tossing or stirring frequently to prevent burning. Remove nuts from pan and set aside.

  6. Return the skillet to the burner, and raise the heat to medium. Add olive oil and onion. Sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes.

  7. Add garlic and sauté two minutes longer, or until garlic is fragrant. Add red wine to deglaze the pan, scraping up any browned bits.

  8. Add the porcini mushrooms along with their soaking liquid, chopped mushrooms, herbs, pepper, and salt to the skillet. Sauté over medium-low heat until most of the water is absorbed and the mushrooms are soft. 

  9. Remove from heat. Stir in toasted walnuts and 1/2 cup of the cashew cream.

  10. Add mushroom mixture to blender. Pulse a few times to create a coarse puree. You don't want it to be completely smooth; just a few seconds of blending should do it.

To assemble the tartlets:

  1. Arrange puff pastry squares on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Brush lightly with cashew cream.

  2. Place a tablespoon-sized mound of the mushroom mixture in the center of each puff pastry square. 

  3. Bake for 20-22 minutes, until light golden brown. Garnish with chopped parsley before serving.