Whether you’re shivering through wintry blasts or baking under the blazing sun, Christmas is a time that has an enduring sense memory linked to food. I always wonder why we only ever buy a leg ham at Christmas when it’s available all year round? The same for petticoat shortbread, Danish butter cookies and pfeffernusse. Once, they were treasures only to be found at Christmas-time and even with the advent of globalisation and all round availability of everything, I still only buy these treats at Christmas. They are my Christmas childhood in one big sugary burst.
Well, it’s time again for the Sweet Adventures Blog Hop and this month it’s the very festive theme of ‘Sweets for Santa’. And who doesn’t love a bit of Christmas Cooking? Christina over at the Hungry Australian is hosting this month’s blog hop and what a festive delight she has made. As well as buying favourite treats, these days I also enjoy making confectionery and baked gifts to give to friends. This year I made Butterscotch Brazils (so easy in the microwave), Gingerbread (with very unprofessional icing) and Bengal Apple Chutney. But what about those who are wanting to eat well? Trying to maintain a diet for health or aesthetic reasons? What are their treats? This is the dilemma that raised its head when I wanted to cook for a couple of friends who have some specific dietary requirements. One, is Vegan but has also been advised to stay off preservatives. The other tries not to eat refined sugar.
I had in my mind’s eye some type of sweet treat that didn’t include sugar nor any added fats. I decided that an energy restoring Bliss Ball would be the ticket. Dressed up with a little coconut, they’d be a great substitute for Rum Balls but a darn sight healthier. This recipe is adapted from Bliss Organic Cafe’s version. These raw Bliss Balls have no dairy, no gluten and no added sugar or fats (though remember, there are sugars in the fruit and fat in the nuts). Perhaps we will all be on these in the New Year, when the resolutions are made……
- 1 cup whole almonds – raw
- 1 cup walnuts or hazelnuts or a mix – raw
- 1/2 cup pepitas or sunflower seeds or a mix – raw
- 2 cups dried dates soaked in hot water for 1/2 hr OR 1 cup fresh dates
- 1/2 cup prunes
- 1/4 cup carob or cocoa powder
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- toasted sesame seeds, cocoa seeds, coconut or poppy seeds for decorating
- 1 pair of disposable gloves – essential!
- Place almonds in food processor and chop to a rough rubble – there needs to be texture but not too large (about the size of a pea)
- Add walnuts and pepitas in processor and chop to a rubble – these nuts are softer than the almonds and will chop quickly
- Roughly hand chop dates and add to processor with prunes, cocoa and cinnamon
- Run the food processor to chop dates into nut mix.
- Be careful not to burn out your engine on your food processor – do short bursts. You may need to stop the processor and push the date mix down from the walls and distribute it evenly. This is a very thick mass for the blades to chop.
- Continue to pulse until you have a nutty, sticky mass. This is not a smooth paste.
- Place mix in bowl and chill for 30 minutes.
- Put your disposable gloves on – trust me, this is a sticky, sticky job and the gloves will make it easier and quicker.
- Get rolling! Any size is fine – commercial Bliss Balls are about the size of a golf ball but I prefer to roll them smaller.
- Roll bliss balls in preferred coating and place on a lined baking tray to chill in fridge – makes at least 20 small balls
– These keep well for several months in the fridge
– You can add your own flavours and mix ins – just make sure you have dates as the base to bind the balls.
– These are a fun treat that kids can help make, roll and most importantly, eat!
This will be the last TIFFIN post for 2012 as I revel in a short Christmas break. Whatever your beliefs, I hope you enjoy this time of year with friends and family and in the company of good food! See you in 2013.