Monday, July 23, 2012

chocolate pudding truffles

As promised here is another healthy sweet treat. It’s raw, it’s chocolate, it’s creamy, it’s nutty - its one wee nugget of goodness. They are chocolate truffles and they are good for you. I tell no lie. Here is the nitty gritty…
I've named these 'chocolate-pudding-truffles' because although they have the appearance of a classic truffle, their insides resemble more of a yummy, rich, cake-like batter. The richness is balanced with a boost of nuts and dates so that they aren't too full on and have an element of 'lightness' like a chocolate pudding.

Raw Cacao – When you hear claims that chocolate is actually good for you, what’s not being said is that the sugars, refined oils and various other ingredients that make their way inside the wrapper are most certainly not. There is however some truth behind this ‘healthy chocolate’ idea. You just have to take a few giant leaps backward to where chocolate finds its roots in the dark cacao bean. The raw cacao bean is extremely rich in magnesium. Magnesium is a vital mineral our body needs to assist in healthy heart function, nerve and muscle stability, circulation and bone strength. Raw cacao is also loaded with antioxidants, beating blueberries, red wine and green tea. Wowza! All I’ve ever really known about green tea is that it has whopping antioxidant levels. Cacao quadruples it!

So chocolate becomes the bad guy after it has been commercially processed and refined with a bunch of other ingredients – the big-baddy-number-one being white sugar. It’s important to note however, when I talk about raw cocao, I don’t mean its not-so-identical twin cocoa. These two were split at birth and despite their similar good chocolatey looks, they’ve grown up to become very different. Cacao waves goodbye to its nutrient-dense qualities when it’s processed, roasted and given a quick name change - Cocoa. Don’t be fooled!

Raw Cacao Powder is one of the easiest ways to use cacao in your kitchen. The journey from bean to powder goes a little something like this… After releasing the beans from the cacao pod the bean is left to dry and ferment. Next the beans are ‘shattered’ to break away the shell and form cacao nibs. The nibs are pressed to extract cacao butter, and what’s left is a cacao type ‘cake’. This cake is broken up in to the wonderful versatile powder. Keep an eye out for organic raw cocao in your health food stores. I’ll admit it’s a little pricey but because it is packed with goodness and you need surprisingly small amounts to get a chocolate power hit - it’s worth its weight in gold. I add the powder to baking, smoothies, raw energy bars, desserts and treats (hello chocolate-pudding truffles!).

Nuts – As I mentioned in my previous post, nuts are full of protein. They also provide us with Omega 3s. These are essential fatty acids that our body cannot produce on its own so it is important that we find a good food source that can do the job for us. Don’t be afraid of fat. The right types are vital for a healthy functioning body. Health issues only arise when we eat more then what our body can utilize as energy or when we fill our mouths with the wrong kinds of fat - the ‘bad’ fats. Deep-fried over-processed battered hot dog? No thank you.

Omega 3s provide us with a very efficient source of energy and support healthy heart, nerve, muscle and brain function, bone strength, circulation and healthy cell growth.

AvocadoAvocados are like the cherry on top to these chocolate truffle bundles of health. They're packed with essential nutrients including vitamins A, C, E, K and B, potassium, folate and fiber. They can help lower cholesterol, improve heart health and regulate blood sugar levels. Avocados also have wonderful anti-inflammatory qualities.

(Thank you to Ryan, my lovely truffle model)

I apologise for the lack of shots of the finished product. My (rookie) photo shoot was interrupted numerous times to taste-test and quality control the truffles. The only decent shots out of the bunch are shown above... Four truffles left out of 16. Whoops!
chocolate pudding truffles

1/2 cup raw almonds - ground*
1/4 cup dates
1 heaping Tbls raw cacao powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 Tbls honey
half of a ripe avocado
desiccated coconut for rolling

(makes approx. 16 truffles)

Remove pits from dates. In a food processor add the first four ingredients and blend till they make a fine meal. Add honey and avocado and continue to blend until all ingredients are thoroughly mixed to form a creamy paste. Roll into balls and coat in coconut. If you feel like an extra chocolate hit, roll them in raw cacao powder or cacao nibs. Store in a container in the freezer. These just taste better from the freezer. They hold together like a creamy fudge and won't set rock hard. They are ideal to whip out if you need a last minute dessert or afternoon tea. 

*If you don't have ground almonds on hand (almond meal), you can just chuck whole raw almonds in your food processor and pulse to form a grainy flour. Just be careful not to grind for too long or you'll have almond butter on your hands.

And there you have it. If you're anything like me, make a batch and then hide them in the very back of your freezer! Although it takes all my self control to not eat these in one sitting, they're even better enjoyed with friends and family. I hope you like! 

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