The other night, a most bizarre thing happened: I had a yen for dates (of the edible kind, but y’know, being the kind of gal I am, I’m open to any kind of dates really. Ones involving food especially. Or a solo date of: book, silence, comfy bed, large beverage beside me. A date with my husband would also be delightful, and you never know, maybe this April, month of our birthdays, we will muster a bit of enthusiasm and leave the house)
But anyway, yes: dates. I had two boxes of Medjool dates that looked at me beseechingly every time I opened the cupboard. I’m not quite sure why I even bought them (the boxes were nice, maybe that’s why) because I’m not the greatest date-lover. I find them a little sweet. Stickily sweet.
But anyway, they were calling me. And I answered with an emphatic: YES, OKAY. I WILL EAT YOU.
I went about looking at recipes for date-y treats. I wanted bite-sized, something to cut the sweetness, preferably a dollop of salt and coated in an excellent dark, dark chocolate.
And so, in the middle of getting small ones to bed, I decided to be exciting and roasted some almonds for about 15 minutes, pitted and soaked the dates in boiling water and had a look at what other delectable bits I had to add to my yet-unknown recipe.
And found very little.
I had a large pot of peanut butter, which is my least favourite nut butter. This was all looking a little uninspiring: making a recipe from ingredients I couldn’t profess to love, but anyway. If I couldn’t make myself eat them (Recipe FAIL no. 3,676,278) the hens surely would.
Once those pesky children had extracted a good forty-five minutes or more of being read to and had finally relented and gone to sleep, and I woke up a while later -after falling asleep myself- and woke Fergal who also had fallen asleep, and we extricated ourselves, nimbly hot-footing it out of the bedroom and down the stairs; I set to making these balls of, well, stuff I didn’t particularly like.
But who doesn’t like a bit of adventure, eh?
A bit of this, a bit of that, blitz; a bit more salt, whizz it up, more salt, taste.
Bloody hell, let me check that again.
Taste again. And once more.
Fearing I could be hallucinating and at any moment feel my stomach lurch at what I just spooned into myself, I balled them and fired them into the freezer and then obsessively prodded and “tidied up” the edges several times, not really believing they were actually delicious. But they were!
(Oh, and a note on the freezer bit: make sure your tray actually fits in your freezer, don’t be like coughcoughmecough who tried to ram my over-sized tray in and squished all the balls and had to transfer to a smaller tray. Don’t be like me. Do check first, so you end up with round balls rather than flattened balls. No-one wants flattened balls, lovely and all as they may taste).
When cold, I rolled them in melted 90% Cocoa Solids chocolate and left to cool.
Then tested again: YES! They are firm, with a good crack of cold chocolate on the outside. Inside, is oozy caramel-y sweet and salty, sticky and silky with a little almond crunch. Shockingly luscious.
Also. Very Important. Just, FYI: when you taste them you may feel overcome by a paroxysm of euphoria (IYKWIM. I don’t want to have to add a “wink wink” emoji here or anything, this being a homely blog and all; but, you know yourself where this explanation could lead). But don’t worry. That’s all part of the experience. Maybe eat them sitting down.
1 ½ cups of pitted Medjool dates (soaked in hot water for 15 mins)
1/3 cup of roasted almonds
1/3 cup peanut butter
½-1 teaspoon salt.
Dark chocolate (I use 90% cocoa solids)
Blitz the drained dates and almonds until they form a paste (you will see flecks of almond in there)
Add in the peanut butter and the salt. Blitz in short 1-2 second bursts.
Start with a half teaspoon of good flaked salt, and taste, adding more if you want (I like these to have a good tang of salt, so I used at least a teaspoon of Maldon salt)
Dollop out into little balls, rolling from one teaspoon to another (or use a melon baller if you have one. Although, I’m not sure I know anyone with one). You want to get them “ball-sized” to be nice and precise about it.
Put them in the freezer (see note above).
While they are setting in the freezer (give them at least half an hour) getting nice and cold (they won’t freeze, but you want them to be firm and cold so you can encase them in chocolate):
Melt chocolate over a bain marie. I use Lindt 90% Cocoa Solids (sometimes I can get a 99% Cocoa Solids bar and add a little maple or honey to sweeten it or I make my own); then dip each hardened ball into it, and refrigerate for another half hour.
Enjoy. Perhaps sitting down (see Very Important note above).