Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Feeling Ballsy

I am such a sucker for chocolate. Not that mamby-pamby "flavoured" stuff you usually find in your corner store, though. For me, I'm a 70% minimum all the way, and bittersweet chocolate truffles (possibly with a hint of sea salt) were one of my major weaknesses at holiday parties as a kid. Don't get me wrong - I'm still of the mind that any chocolate (except white... that ain't chocolate, guys) is better than none, and if offered a Twix bar I wouldn't necessarily say no! But I was probably the only non-adult I knew that didn't go crazy over extra-creamy hot chocolate, preferring just the barest amount of sugar in a cupful of unsweetened cocoa powder and 1% milk. Usually the only times I would indulge in the "milkier" variety involved mass consumption of Ferrero Rocher balls at Christmas and the occasional square of Hershey's in a s'more.

You'd think that after this tower of  insane chocolateyness I baked, fought with, and won over a few weeks ago that I'd never want to see or touch the stuff again. Logically, that would make sense. But there are two factors working against me on that one: firstly, I'm female, and it has been pointed out to me on occasion that women are biologically irrational creatures (I on the other hand beg to counter that men just need to open a few more mental boxes at a time). Second, I have never known someone with a passion for anything to be rational about experiencing it. And I do love truffles.



If you want to get really technical, though, these fudgey balls of super awesomeness aren't exactly chocolate truffles, not as the Toronto patisserie Dufflet defines them anyways. According to their website, a chocolate truffle "is a bite-sized petit four, made from chocolate and ganache to which flavourings have been added, such as liqueurs or essences". Hmph. Well then.

I guess they're right, though. Chocolatey, sweet and rich though these are, there is no cream, no butter, no booze, no sugar, and no "actual" chocolate to speak of. What they do have in mass quantities are dates, unsweetened cocoa and my current favourite "binder" in the kitchen - ground flaxseed. Cooked down (though if you wanted to keep it raw you could soak them too), the dates become a pulpy, honey-like paste with just the right amount of caramel notes to balance the bitterness of the cocoa (again, for raw go with raw cacao). The flax comes in with a toothsome and somewhat nutty element and keeps the whole mass together, mouldable and moist. A drizzle of toasted sesame oil and a roll in a crunchy two seed "bath" finishes them off.

I think my favourite part about making these more or less off the top of my head is that they are so open for variations. Hazelnut oil, a blanched nut in the middle and a roll in ground filberts? Ferrero Rocher without the guilt. Diced dried pineapple and mango in with some of the cooking dates and a crust of dessicated coconut? Sounds like tropical paradise to me. Heck, as long as you have a food processor on hand (like this amazing one that you can win from KitchenAid and me!!)  the possibilities are endless, which can only mean one thing - 'tis the season for balls-out blinging!

What are your favourite chocolate combinations, or are you (like me) a bittersweet purist through and through?

Submitted to Ricki's Wellness Weekend and Amy's Slightly Indulgent Tuesday.

Sweet Cocoa-Flax "Truffles"
Makes 25
1/3 cup diced dates
1 cup water
1 tsp honey (or agave nectar), optional
1/2 tsp toasted sesame oil
1/4 tsp sea salt
1 cup ground flax seeds
1/2 cup cocoa powder
toasted sesame seeds and golden flax seeds, for rolling 
  1. Combine dates and water in a small saucepan and place over medium heat.
  2. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring often, for 15-20 minutes, until very soft and falling apart.
  3. Drain, reserving the liquid, and place into a blender with honey, oil and salt. Puree until very smooth (you are looking for a thick, pasty consistency).
  4. Mix together ground flax and cocoa in a small dish and add to the blender. Blend until the mixture is smooth and all one "paste" - add 1-2 tbsp of the saved date water if necessary, but you need to be able to form the mixture into balls.
  5. Place sesame seeds in a shallow bowl or plate and roll small balls of the paste in them to coat.
  6. Place balls on a plate and chill 1-2 hours before enjoying.
  7. Store, covered, in the fridge, or freeze up to 1 month.       
Amount Per Serving
Calories: 31.4
Total Fat: 1.8 g
Cholesterol: 0.0 mg
Sodium: 0.4 mg
Total Carbs: 4.2 g
Dietary Fiber: 2.0 g
Protein: 1.4 g

1 comment :

Ricki said...

I love the addition of sesame to these--and it makes them look so pretty, too! Thanks so much for submitting to WW this week. :D