Date Ball Energy Bites

These popable, portable, pick-me-ups are the perfect snack when the 2:30pm sweet tooth starts calling. Or if you're me, these totally pass as an acceptable breakfast on-the-go. They're sweet, chewy, and indulgent. They're round and covered in cocoa powder, so it's like eating a truffle, but it's less bad for you, so that's a win in my book!

What's a Date Ball / Energy Bite?

It's basically a nut and date mixture that becomes a dough when blended together. It's pretty healthy (better than straight ice cream or brownies) and can be vegan if you choose depending on your ingredients. It's mostly plant-based, so that qualifies as healthy...

... Then again, sugar is a plant. Chocolate is a plant. Cream comes from cows who eat plants. Therefore, this brownie I'm eating while writing this post is a salad.

Ahem. Back to the date balls.

Flavors

You can use any flavors you'd like, but I'm a chocolate fan, so we're doing Espresso Chocolate Cherry today because it just sounds delicious. So again, the great thing about these date ball energy bites is that you can start with the base of 1 cup of dates + 1 cup of any nut and then add your favorite flavors. In addition to these chocolate coffee energy bites, I've also made them in lemon ginger cashew, pumpkin pecan spice, and chocolate coconut almond. They've all been delicious. 

Note: I don't recommend peanuts or peanut butter. I thought it would be awesome, but alas, I was mistaken. The peanut oil was way too oily and it caused them to freeze super hard. When I put them in the fridge they still just tasted like oil rather than something you'd willingly elect to consume. So stick to the "drier" nuts: almonds, walnuts, pecans, cashews... but make sure they are unsalted!

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup almonds (raw, unsalted)
  • 2/3 cups dried cherries (the tart Montmorency cherries from Costco are the bomb!)
  • 1 Tbsp instant coffee (I use decaf)
  • 1 Tbsp water (for disolving the coffee)
  • 2/3 cup dates
  • 1/4 Tsp Almond extract
  • pinch of sea salt
  • 1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, melted
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder: divide 1/4 of it to go in the dough, and 3/4 of it to coat the finished balls for decoration and sealing

Blend the almonds in the food processor to get them as finely chopped (almost powdery) as you can. In my food processor, this can take a few minutes. Put the finely chopped almond (basically the flour for this recipe) in another bowl off to the side.

Next, make your Espresso shot by putting the instant coffee and 1Tbsp water into a small bowl or glass and stirring well. The result should be an ultra-concentrated syrup that would burn a hole in your tongue if you were bold enough to drink on its own (not recommended).

Excluding the almonds, put all the rest of the ingredients into the bowl of your food processor and blend until well combined. It'll be super dark and sticky. Try to get it to blend smooth. The goal of this snack is to trick yourself into the idea that you're actually eating a creamy truffle - which it falls just short of. So our goal is to get everything blended as smoothly as possible. 

Add the almonds and watch as it transforms a thick dough. This could take about 3 minutes of processing. If the dough isn’t coming together, try adding a teaspoon of water at a time to encourage everything to bind.

When the ingredients are completely mixed, unplug and take out the blade from the food processor and set aside. Get a plate that you can put in the refrigerator and cover it with a piece of waxed paper.

Here's the part where it gets messy. Like, really messy. Take off your rings. Put up your hair. And don't even think of answering your phone for the next 15 minutes. It honestly just gets so sticky. Often I use a spatula and a spoon to tag-team the task. It might be a good idea to lightly wet your hands before you start just to try to stop the sticking at least a little bit. Have a wet paper towel near by for when you can't take it any more and just need to wipe your hands.

Okay. Let the mess begin! Take 1 tablespoon of the goo and roll it into a ball in between your hands. Ideally, each ball should be about the size of a quarter... you know, if it was a sphere. Set it on the plate covered in waxed paper. Repeat until you use all the dough.

Once all the balls are rolled, they'll probably still be quite sticky. This is when cocoa powder comes to the rescue! 

Just plop a ball into the cocoa powder - don't cover it completely or try to coat all the sides at this point. 

So with just one side of the date ball in the cocoa powder, roll it again in your hands and watch how perfectly it coats! Just the perfect, thin little dusting of the cocoa powder makes it look like a high design matte finish French chocolate bonbon! You clever thing, you.

When finished, put them in the fridge for 2 hours to set. 

Depending on the firmness you enjoy, you can choose to leave them in the freezer or pop them in the fridge for a softer eat. These energy bites keep in the fridge for a month, or in the freezer for a really long time.

Decorate them however you'd like. Flowers, melted chocolate drizzle, a coffee bean, or whatever floats your boat. Either way, you're sure to wildly impress your Evergreen guest.

The other great thing about these date ball energy bites is that you can start with the base of 1 cup of dates + 1 cup of any nut and then add your favorite flavors. In addition to these chocolate coffee energy bites, I've also made them in lemon ginger cashew, pumpkin pecan spice, and chocolate coconut almond. They've all been delicious. 

We've had a ball. In the Evergreen Club, that's just how we roll. 

Enjoy these delicious energy bites that taste fantastic and also store very well. Try making some with your own flavor combinations and let us know how it went on next Sunday's VTE!

Join us every Sunday for more fun recipes, activities, travel trips, and good times. We have a VTE every Sunday evening at 7:00 EDT.

Cheers!