So, don’t judge me or anything, but these chocolate truffles were the only thing to come out of my kitchen this weekend (and, if we’re being technical/honest, all last week). I meant to make tons of other yummy stuff so that we’d have leftovers for lunch this week – Carla Hall’s hot chicken, kale/beet/goat cheese toasts, pigs-in-a-blanket (for football viewing, duh), and skillet pizza – but somehow none of it happened.
On Saturday I slept in, met my parents for a ginormous lunch at a fabulous hole-in-wale Hunan place near their house, took a super long nap to sleep off my food coma from the ginormous lunch, and spent the rest of the afternoon/evening catching up on a weeks’ worth of Castle episodes. Before I knew it it was 9 o’clock at night, there was no natural light to speak of, and I had zero motivation to either cook or take pictures. And then on Sunday, we went hiking with friends, enjoyed a late brunch at one of our favorite local breweries, napped (so many naps!), bought/drank too much wine from BJs, and…did not spend much time in the kitchen. Looking back, it was really a pretty great weekend. Just not for blogging.
In a last ditch effort to be productive, I decided to make a batch of these healthy chocolate truffles late Sunday night (hello, early morning pre-work picture-taking). I figured since I spent so much time hunting for Medjool dates at Whole Foods, it would be a shame not to use them. Knowing me, if I didn’t make the truffles ASAP, I’d forget I had the ingredients and they’d all get gross by the time I remembered them again. Plus, the recipe seemed very low maintenance, like something a tired, slightly buzzed person can throw together with very little effort/brain effort. I love those kinds of recipes, don’t you?
And guys, this is seriously the easiest recipe ever! Just soak some dates in hot water for a few minute to get them extra soft/jammy, throw everything into a food processor/blender, taste, then scoop and roll your mixture into little balls (10 minutes tops)…et voila! Truffles. That look good and are good for you. And against all odds, they taste pretty good too.
I got this recipe from Lindsay, the brilliant mind behind Pinch of Yum, who is currently living (and loving) a healthy, sugar-free lifestyle. Or, at least, a lifestyle free of refined sugar. When I read her post about it, I was mildly horrified (no chocolate?!?!?), but also slightly intrigued. There’s sugar in so many things! Is it even possible to enjoy food when sugar isn’t involved? Apparently yes. And apparently eating less sugar/processed foods makes you feel better too. Go figure.
So I’ve been following Lindsay’s recipes with interest since her sugar-free conversion – whole grains, vegetables, fruits, etc. I can totally understand and get behind (and do, usually), but desserts with no refined sugars? HMMM, skeptical. Then I saw her post for supposedly delicious, naturally-sweetened chocolate truffles, and I was all “whhaaaaaaat!!!” followed by “I don’t know, really?” So I had to try them for myself.
If we’re being totally honest here, these truffles do not taste anything like you’d expect of a chocolate truffle. There’s no added sugar, and there’s actually no real chocolate either. They’re neither rich nor creamy, and they don’t melt in your mouth. My first thought when I took a bite of one was “is this what healthy people think chocolate truffles taste like?” Then I kept chewing and realized that it was actually pretty tasty. Soft and slightly chewy, delicately sweet, with just a hint of dark chocolate. In terms of taste and consistency, it reminded me a lot of a chocolate Larabar.
I suspect if you’re a chocoholic looking to satisfy a very specific craving, these truffles won’t do it for you. But if you’re just feeling peckish or want a light, healthy snack or mid-day pick-me-up, these would be a great alternative to a candy bar or energy bar. The more of these I eat, the more I like them. And, unlike with regular chocolate truffles, I can actually feel good about eating a whole bunch of them!
- 14 medjool dates, pitted
- ½ cup pecans (but you can use any kind you like)
- ¾ cup almond meal (or any other finely ground nuts)
- ¼ cup cocoa powder
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp chocolate extract (optional - I just wanted to add more chocolate flavor)
- ½ teaspoon sea salt (more to taste)
- cocoa, sprinkles, and flaked coconut for topping (or anything else you want)
- Soak your dates in hot water for a few minutes to soften.
- Drain and squeeze out excess water.
- Place your pecans, almond meal, and cocoa in a food processor until finely ground.
- Add the dates, vanilla, chocolate extract and sea salt, and pulse until a thick, sticky dough ball forms.
- Remove the dough ball from the food processor - taste and add any other flavors you want.
- Roll the dough into small balls - you should be able to get 18-24.
- Roll the balls in toppings of your choice like cocoa powder, chocolate sprinkles, or flaked coconut,
- Place on a baking sheet and store in the freezer until they are hard enough not to stick together. Transfer to an airtight container and keep in the refrigerator or freezer.
Also, if you're like me and the first thing you think when you see "medjool dates" in a recipe is "what the hell is a medjool date, and where do I buy it?", you might find this article from The Kitchn very helpful. And FYI, I got my medjool dates at Whole Foods, in the section where there are all those bins (like at a candy shop) full of oats and nuts and other stuff you can use a little shovel to fill plastic baggies with. Safeway also carries them.
(Barely adapted from Pinch of Yum’s recipe)