This is one of those creations that had me leaping round the kitchen in amazement that something purely based on plants could taste so decedent. The idea for a gooey chocolate hazelnut paste came from making hazelnut dressing, and I planned to create a sweet version to flavour gluten-free dairy-free chocolate cakes. However, on tasting bigger and bigger scoops of the mixture – hiding behind the excuse “to ensure it had enough cacao in” – I thought intense hits, via these little truffles, does this praline concoction more justice.
It’s less hassle to buy blanched hazelnuts for this recipe. But, if you use hazelnuts with skins on, for the best, smooth result, soak the nuts for an hour or two first. You can then lightly toast them in the oven for around 20 minutes on 200 degrees. This will really enhance the flavour and help you to rub the skins off – and make your kitchen smell wonderful. This procedure is not essential though.
You’ll need a food processor for these bad boys – beg, steal or borrow.
90-100g stoned medjool dates (about 5-6 dates)
2-3 heaped tsps of cacao powder (I use Creative Nature from Tesco)
- Cover the dates with hot/boiling water and leave to soak for a few minutes whilst you get busy with the hazelnuts. You don’t need to soak the dates for long as they quickly become waterlogged and make the dough too wet.
- Grind up the nuts in the food processor for about 5 minutes (yes, 5 minutes you read that right). Aim for nut butter and you won’t go far wrong. As the ground nuts advance to a paste you’ll find yourself having to stop the food processor, removing the lid and pushing down the contents from the sides and back towards the blade.
- When – finally – the nuts are looking pasty and you can bear the noise of the food processor no longer, stop the blade and once again, push the nut mixture back down to the bottom of the bowl. Now pick out your dates from the water and add them, discarding the water.
- Pulverise once again – just not as long this time – until you have a sticky paste.
- Add the cacao power, tasting for your desired level of chocolateyness as you go.
- Once you are happy with the flavour, scoop out of the food processor and roll into 10-12 little balls. I find a dusting of cacoa
powder (use a sieve) on the receiving plate helps to stop them from sticking together. Leave them to firm up in the fridge for half an hour before serving.
- Store in the fridge for an instant chocolatey hit/transport into work for a pick-me-up when the internet crashes…
I am sharing this recipe with Healthy Vegan Fridays