Caramel-Hazelnut Bites (GF)

I’m very much into bread and cake. You may have already noticed this. Anything fluffy or doughy that requires me to knead, cream or fold it is recreational territory in my mind. But as of tomorrow my baking habit will no longer be a simple past time, it will be my study and my future. Life will be busy with baking, with learning the art of the pastry chef and throwing all of my energy into being the best student I can be. Commuting to London will be tiring, long days on my feet in the pastry kitchen will be exhausting, weekends spent nurturing my personal life will be busy. For all of this I will need fuel, and probably something with a higher nutritional kick than cake. It is fortunate for me that, besides my bread habit, I really do enjoy bowls of porridge, tender piles of steamed vegetables and pots of unsweetened yoghurt. There has to be some balance to the universe and my love of cake is tempered with a mostly plant based diet. To help me along the these coming months I need some serious energy fixes ready for immediate deployment, when this cannot be coffee it has to be energy balls.

Boost Balls Black and White

You can buy these things in health food shops and will find recipes in the pages of pretty much every healthy lifestyle blog or cookbook. Energy balls are not a magic nutrition pill, depending on how you make them they can be as sugary and fat dense as a doughnut, but sometimes this level of calorie consumption is necessary. These balls of nuts and dates provide fibre, satiety and a cleaner conscience than a Mars bar. It gives me peace of mind to have seen the ingredients tumble into the processor and to know that I am eating something that is identifiable as food and not a ‘food-like-substance’. I added caramel flavouring, inspired by a shop-bought product I’ve had in the past, but they will be just as fudgy and biscuit-y without. The dates I used were fairly dried-out so I added ½ a cup of cold water to create the date paste but you may have to judge the consistency for yourself depending on the products you use. This cashew, almond, hazelnut and caramel combination is creamy, decadent and has a toothsome chew cold from the fridge.

Boost Balls Colourful Landscape

Caramel-Hazelnut Date Balls

Ingredients

(Makes 26 large)

350g Dates (Stones removed)

200g Ground Almonds

70g Cashew Nuts (can be substituted for other nuts)

70g Cashew Nut Butter (can be substituted for other nut butters)

50g Desiccated Coconut

100g chopped, toasted hazelnuts (can be substituted for coconut or other nuts)

1 dessert spoon Caramel flavouring

pinch salt

1 cup water (use as needed)

Method

You will need a food processor for this recipe

1) Soak the dates in water if they are particularly dried out

2) Blend the cashew nuts into a rough crumb

3) Add the dates to the processor and blend to a thick paste (you may need to stop and scrape the edges of the mixer)

4) Add pinch of salt, caramel flavouring and cashew nut butter and blend well (add water if mixture is too stiff)

5) Add ground almonds and coconut and blend to a thick ‘dough’ consistency

6) Roll the mixture into balls and roll in toasted, chopped hazelnuts to coat

7) Keep in the fridge or even freezer for longer term storage

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