Sometimes things happen and you have to change your eating habits. Since C. was ill earlier this year, we’ve tried to purge his diet of egg and dairy. It’s sad to see the cheese go, but since we’re already almost dairy free, it’s not been the hardship you might imagine. The one thing that’s been tricky is treats. Rice cakes really aren’t a proper replacement for biscuits and although I have a fab vegan recipe for ginger cake, sometimes we just want something small. Small but intense.
I came across the raw brownie when I was browsing for inspiration. It is a simple recipe that needs only a few ingredients: walnuts, cocoa, salt, dates and more nuts. Genius.
I tried and loved the recipe, but couldn’t resist fiddling with it. The end result is truffles. They have a strong chocolate flavour, lovely nutty crunch and a soft texture but they are not raw anymore. Unconvinced of the benefits of raw foods, I use normal cocoa rather than raw cocoa. (Saying that, I used the best cocoa I could find. Not drinking cocoa with milk powder and sugar added but 100% pure cocoa.)
I figured I’d get about 10 – 12 proper brownies out of the mixture. Always curious, I put the ingredients into a calorie calculator and promptly decided to divide the mixture into 20 pieces instead of 10. This is not a low-cal snack, no matter how healthy the separate ingredients are. As with all things, moderation rules.
This date and cocoa treat has become a firm favourite. They are wonderful with coffee or tea, and round of a dinner very nicely. And they are large enough that one is enough. I also find that they are great for a quick energy boost before the gym.
Raw-ish, Dairy-free Truffle Recipe
This is based on a lovely recipe for a raw brownie. I made it using normal cocoa, and mixed up the nuts a little, and re-calculated it to weight measures. There’s room for experimentation: a little more cocoa gives a lovely, bitter truffle; throw in some cinnamon and a pinch of chilli for a warm, exotic truffle. I’m also planning to use the walnut-cocoa-date mixture for a chocolate marzipan sweet this Christmas. It’s versatile and really good!
Makes from about 20 large truffles up to 40 small ones.
- 200 grams walnuts
- 85 grams cocoa
- Pinch of salt (optional)
- 1-2 cardamom pods (optional)
- 400 grams medjool dates
- 75 grams almonds, roughly chopped
- 75 grams pistachios, roughly chopped
- More cocoa (optional)
- Remove the stones from the dates.
- Blitz the walnuts in a food processor until they are a fine, fluffy powder.
- Finely grind the cardamom.
- Add the cocoa, cardamom and salt to the walnuts and mix.
- Add the dates, one by one, until you have a well-mixed, sticky mixture that keeps its shape when pressed together.
- Mix in the chopped nuts.
- Take a tablespoon of mixture and roll into balls.
- Or, press into a cake tin and cut into squares.
- Roll in, or sprinkle with, cocoa.
- Store in an airtight container in the fridge. Keeps for weeks. (The texture changes a little over time as the outside dries out. That's why an airtight container is good.)