I have to confess, I’ve been holding out on you. I first discovered this recipe last summer, and even though it was HUGELY successful I haven’t gotten around to sharing until now! For that, I apologize, but hopefully once you go and make these you will forgive me.
My girls both seem to have inherited my love for chocolate, which actually makes me quite happy. In addition to being delicious, in small amounts, high quality dark chocolate is actually good for us, containing fiber, minerals, and antioxidants. The problem is that it’s calorie dense, making it easy to overeat, and generally comes packaged with a large dose of sugar. So to keep that in check, I let my girls indulge with a small piece of organic dark chocolate, or some chocolate chips in muffins.
Another way to get our chocolate fix is with unsweetened cocoa powder, which has no sugar at all and includes all of the benefits of chocolate, including the rich taste. The problem, of course, is that without something to sweeten it, cocoa powder is not very tasty. I’ve been experimenting with ways to use cocoa powder, like in smoothies (banana + almonds + cocoa powder + water = deliciousness!), but I’m always happy to find a new way for us all to enjoy our chocolate as part of a healthy snack. When these types of date and nut ball/bar recipes began popping up all over the web, I was intrigued but, I have to admit, also very skeptical.
The concept is essentially a larabar rolled into individual balls. And while I am not a huge fan of larabars, I really love the idea of a fruit and nut based snack, so I hoped that with the right tweaks maybe they would work. And so, I finally gave them a try and was happy to discover that they are delicious! I first made them to bring on vacation with us, but I have since made them over and over again both for snacks at home and to give to others, each time becoming a bigger fan of this recipe.
I’m actually blown away that such simple and wholesome ingredients can produce a snack that can be made ahead, travels well, and makes my girls feel like they won the lottery. And just in case you think it’s just my kids who would enjoy such a treat, I have tested them out at playdates…and on my fast-food-loving-veggie-hating babysitter…to the ravest reviews!
Fudgy Snack Balls
adapted from SnackGirl
1 cup plain nuts (almonds, cashews, or walnuts, or a combination have all worked for me)
15 pitted dates
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoons water
Optional: powdered sugar for dusting
Add nuts to food processor and pulse until finely ground, being careful not to process long enough to get nut butter! Add dates, cocoa powder, vanilla, honey, and water. Process until well combined and crumbly. Test a small amount of mixture to see if it holds together if you try to form a ball. If not, add more water 1 teaspoon at a time, pulse, and recheck until you can form balls. Once the mixture is ready, form balls using 1 tablespoon of the mixture each, and roll in or dust with powdered sugar if desired (I only do this for special occasions or gifts).
Store in the fridge or freezer.
Makes approximately 18 balls