Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Food Desert Project - Cocoa-Date Bourbon Balls

There are dozens of recipes for homemade "energy bars" out there on the internets.  I've long been wanting to make Pan de Higo for this project - an Arab-Spanish creation not dissimilar to an energy bar, but originally a way to preserve the fig harvest.  One problem I have with most of these recipes - even though dried fruit is a very healthy food, it's also calorie-dense, and it's easy to overeat.

006Many of these recipes are cocoa-flavored, and I realized that all I had to do was make little truffles et voilà! instant portion control!  As I was playing with the ingredients, I realized Pan de Higo is similar to Kentucky Bourbon Balls, a favorite childhood treat.  In both recipes, the ingredients are softened and flavored with alcohol.  So, there you have it!  These are still an indulgence, and aren't quite same as either of their ancestors, but they are a tasty little pick-me-up that offers sweetness and nutrition without a lot of highly-processed ingredients.

20 pitted dates (about 3/4 cup; keep in mind sugared dates will add calories, so check the label)
2 tbsp flax seeds (available in drugstores in the supplement aisle)
3 tbsp unsweetened cocoa, separated
1/8 tsp salt
3 tbsp bourbon, separated
1 tbsp brewed dark coffee
2 tbsp chopped walnuts

001Put the dates and 1 tbsp bourbon in a microwave-safe container and microwave until the bourbon is mostly absorbed.  Pour this mixture into a food processor and process until it is a paste.  Add 2 tbsp of cocoa powder, salt, and the flax seeds and blend again until smooth, adding coffee and bourbon as needed until you have a sticky, soft dough.  Add the walnuts and process briefly to keep them in chunks.

005Divide your dough (it will be really sticky, and, yes - it's not terribly attractive at this stage) into eighths.  Put the remaining cocoa powder on a plate.  Roll each portion of the dough into a ball and then lightly dust with cocoa powder (you will want to knock off the excess.)  Enjoy!



Leah A. Zeldes said...

You can do something similar with dried apricots, such as in the Australian confection called apricot delight.

Michele Hays said...

Thanks, Leah! I will check that out!

There are many versions of dried-fruit cakes like Pan de Higo, including the grocery-store Larabars.

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