Another year has passed, and we are again about to enter Holy Week. Although many of us have our minds and spirits focused on spiritual enlightenment and reflection, I’m sure there are more than a few among us with Lenten palates anticipating the resurrection of chocolate in our culinary repertoires.
Yes, I will be providing plenty of chocolate bunnies and cream-filled Easter eggs, among a multitude of other pretty little confections, in my children’s Easter baskets. And in the interest of full disclosure, I will most likely be nipping at those bags of store-bought treats myself.
Even during this celebratory time of year though, we don’t have to completely abandon our commitment to healthy eating. Here is a delicious revelation befitting the season–a satisfying “chocolaty” goodie that is not only nourishing enough to enjoy throughout the year, but also pretty and sweet enough to share this Easter.
A chewy combination of walnuts, dried fruit, carob powder, almond butter, coconut, and cinnamon, these mahogany-colored rounds are nutrient dense and not too sweet—the perfect little grab and go treat to quell hunger throughout the day or even to enjoy as dessert.
These rounds are delicious just as they are, but to make them even spiffier, coat them in melted dark chocolate or carob and then roll in shredded unsweetened coconut.
¼ cup toasted or raw walnuts
1/3 cup raisins
1/3 cup pitted dates
1/3 cup dried apricots
¼ cup dried cranberries, cherries, or golden raisins
¾ cup almond butter
¼ cup shredded unsweetened coconut
¼ cup carob powder
¼ cup brown rice crisp cereal, coarsely crushed
3 tablespoons maple syrup
1 heaping tablespoon raw sesame seeds
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch of sea salt
Melted chocolate or carob for coating (optional)
Shredded unsweetened coconut for coating (optional)
Put the walnuts in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade attachment and pulse until chopped to a texture resembling very coarse breadcrumbs. Set aside in a medium bowl.
Return the food processor bowl to the machine, fit with the metal blade attachment, and add the raisins, dates, apricots, and cranberries, pulsing until coarsely chopped. You don’t want the mixture to become a paste; chopped bits are best. Transfer the mixture to the bowl of walnuts.
To the nuts and fruit, add the almond butter, coconut, carob powder, cereal, syrup, sesame seeds, cinnamon, and salt. Using a rubber spatula or your hands, fold the ingredients together until well combined. The mixture will be quite thick.
Using a tablespoon or a good quality, sturdy metal scoop (I like one that holds about 2 teaspoons), shape the mixture into about 32 rounds and then roll into balls. The rounds can be served immediately or stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 10 days.
If you wish to coat the rounds with melted chocolate (or carob) and coconut, chill the rounds until firm. Drop into melted chocolate and then roll in coconut. Set aside at room temperature or in the refrigerator until set. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 10 days.