Are you chocolate or a vanilla person?
I'm guessing chocolate is the more popular answer. Not for me though. I am not a true "chocoholic" or so I am told by most foodies, because I don't like dark chocolate. Nope, for me it's milk and only milk. I won't eat fake chocolate though, you know, the stuff labelled as "cholately" and contains vegetable fats. Just the real stuff, but it can simply be Dairy Milk, it doesn't have to be artisanal chocolate hand made for $50/ounce. I prefer milk because I like my chocolate soft and creamy and I find dark too hard and crunchy. For this reason, I also hate chocolate chips or bits in ice cream or any chocolate, for that matter, that has been refrigerated or frozen. I also prefer vanilla ice cream to chocolate and oatmeal raisin, gingerbread or molassas cookies to chocolate chip.
I think Big A is turning out like me, she loves things that are vanilla and has come to appreciate "spiced" sweets (i.e. gingerbread, etc.) almost as much as I do. She also likes chocolate, but it is not usually her first choice. Little A, however, is already showing signs of being a chocoholic (Big A was never even allowed chocolate until after her 2nd birthday, but being a second child, Little A has been exposed to almost everything much earlier). This should come as no surprise, it's in the genes: both Adam, his mom, and my mom are big time chocolate lovers.
So I got thinking...what could I create that would be big on chocolately taste to please my little ones, without all the sugar and other garbage? I came up with this recipe and, except for the cocoa powder dusting on the outside (Big A found it too bitter), it was a big hit. Next time I might try rolling them in coconut or chopped almonds...
I call these divine because they are truly sinless - low-fat and no dairy or sugar added* - but are still delicious. The provide dark chocolate flavour, but a soft, smooth, creamy consistency.
4 cups pitted dates
1/2 cup water
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 tbls almond butter
4 tbls pure cocoa powder, plus more for rolling if desired
Optional add-ons: finely shredded coconut, chopped almonds, powdered sugar, etc.
Place dates and water in saucepan over high heat with lid on. Once water boils, immediately turn off heat and add vanilla. Leave on burner until all water is absorbed and mixture has cooled somewhat. Place dates in food processor with almond butter and cocoa and puree until it forms a paste (doesn't have to be perfectly smooth). Form into balls** and roll in cocoa powder and/or other options. Makes 18 truffles.
Refrigerate if you prefer a firmer texture.
*Did you know that dates are the sweetest fruit on earth? Probably why I love them so much. To me they taste like caramel. Although they contain a lot of natural sugar and are not low calorie (1 cup has 415 cals), they are loaded with fibre and have a lot of nutrients including folate, potassium, calcium, magnesium, selenium, vitamin A, vitamin K and choline.
**I used my hands and the mixture was a bit too sticky for this. I recommend using a spoon or melon baller to scoop it out for rolling.