Saturday, August 15, 2015

Chocolate almond bliss balls

This is not exactly a revolutionary recipe, nor am I at the cutting edge of the raw food trend. However, these were introduced into our diet as a nutrient-dense snack food when I was trying to simultaneously recover from childbirth and sustain a small person with all his caloric needs, and they're so good that a year later we're still making them regularly... So I feel it's my duty as a food-loving human being to share the joy around.

For me, the most surprising part of the whole Having A Baby thing was how difficult the physical recovery was. I was lucky not to have any complications with labour, and I was pretty fit going into it... But it's kind of like running a mega-marathon and then trying to recover by not sleeping for more than three hours at a time for the following six weeks.*

In the absence of lovely, precious, uninterrupted, restorative sleep, nourishing food to help your body heal becomes all the more critical. And (of course - come on!) it has to taste good too.

It's okay to go cheap on the fruit and nuts, but not the all-important chocolate! 
Bliss balls are generally ground nuts, dried fruit and some kind of flavour component. The recipe is pretty flexible and hard to screw up - so have a play with your favourite fruit and nuts. If the mix ends up a bit soft just add a few more ground nuts; if it's too firm to roll add some honey, water or some other liquid or syrup. Try apricot, macadamia and white chocolate, or fig, almond and cashew. Instead of coconut you could roll them in cocoa or extra ground nuts. Whatever tickles your fancy.

These definitely aren't the domain of new mums - they're great snacks, as they're delicious, reasonably high in protein, and pretty filling. Mr Cake loves them! They're also easy to put together, and last for ages in the fridge (if you don't eat them all at once, that is).

A food processor is reasonably critical here - though at a pinch you could buy ground nuts, mash up the dried fruit and grate the chocolate. The texture wouldn't be quite as good - home ground nuts tend to be a bit less uniform, a bit more crunchy, which makes for more interesting eating. But it would work.

Our processor is just a stick blender with processor attachments - and I had to do lots of batches as someone has misplaced the lid of the larger one. Let me know if you have any strategies for getting toddlers to share their secret hiding places!

If you have a really awesome and large food processor you may find you can do all the mixing inside it, which would speed things up a bit.

You can't make these without getting your hands covered in goo,
but as a consolation you're allowed to lick your fingers at the end.

The slowest part of making them is rolling them into balls. To get them reasonably uniform I usually do fractions, dividing the mixture in half several (4) times, and then when I'm down to a smallish ball dividing into three. Good maths lesson material perhaps?

You can obviously make them as large or small as you like, but they are rich and quite filling, so I prefer to keep them bite-sized and then have a second one if I'm still peckish. Plus you get more coconut that way. ;-)

It's a pretty big recipe, but they keep for ages and make great gifts too so we never seem to struggle to get through it.

Have you tried making bliss balls? Do you have a favourite flavour combo that I should try?

Bliss Balls (makes 48 bite-sized balls, adapted from Pregnancy Exercise)
400g almonds
400g dates
125g dark chocolate (I use Whittakers Dark Ghana)
1/2 cup dessicated coconut

Boil the jug, place dates in a bowl and soak in boiling water for 1 minute. Drain in a colander, pressing any extra water out (use a spoon or wait for them to cool and use your fingers).

Pulse almonds in a food processor until finely chopped.

Break chocolate into chunks and pulse in food processor until finely ground (you can do this together with some or all of the almonds if your processor is big enough).

Pulse dates until pureed (add some ground almonds to the mix if your processor struggles - or you can just mash them if your processor isn't up to it).

Use your hands to thoroughly mix the almonds, dates and chocolate together, then divide into balls and roll in coconut.

Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a month, or freeze for up to six months if you want to eke them out for even longer.

*Number of weeks/hours here is wildly variable by baby, sorry if it was longer for you, don't talk to me if it was shorter. ;-)


  1. I love making bliss balls! I must try making them with dark chocolate, I usually use a good cocoa and dates instead. Have you tried making lemon coconut bliss balls? I've got a nice recipe ony blog :) Kim

  2. I haven't tried lemon coconut, Kim, I'm such a diehard chocoholic I can't get past these ones but I guess I should branch out. ;-) I'll check out your recipe!

  3. Ridiculously delicious :-D


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