Last April, we were invited to dinner at the home of some friends that we don’t see too often. When we had last spent some time together, our hostess mentioned that occasionally she would follow a vegan diet, but it wasn’t a consistent practice. I call that being flexible! I offered to bring dessert and decided to search for some vegan options.
I actually brought two desserts. The first was from a cookbook by Chloe Coscarelli for a berry shortcake with whipped coconut cream (if you haven’t tried it, whipped coconut cream is pretty amazing and a fabulous substitute for the whipped dairy cream)…
I also made the little bites that I am sharing with you today. Made from dates, almond butter and chocolate, these Salted Chocolate Date Bites can be 100% vegan if you use vegan chocolate chips available at some markets (I used regular chips for today’s post). These little bites are such a great thing to have around during the holiday season when you want a sweet bite, but don’t want to load up on refined sugar. They also would make a lovely hostess gift (just mention in your gift card that they should be refrigerated). The original recipe called for figs rather than dates, but I had beautiful Medjool dates in my pantry when I attempted the recipe so that’s what I continue to use…
A couple of things happened on the way to getting this post published. The first was the challenge of making mostly brown ingredients look reasonably appealing in photographs. I thought rather than waste the photos, I would walk you through how they evolved.
As mentioned, the main ingredients in these bites are the dates (brown), almond butter (tan, but basically brown), chocolate chips (brown) and flaked salt (white). Not that great to photograph…
I wanted the dates spilling out of their container and thought the chips would look good coming out of the bag, but that scoop of almond butter left a lot to be desired. I decided to change up the picture like this…
The almond butter still looks relatively unattractive. I mean, how do you make a brown glob look good, right?
I decided to switch the location of the salt and the chips, and give the chips a little coating of non-stick spray to make them pop a bit. I also took away the blob and put the whole jar of almond butter into the photo. I still wasn’t satisfied. As an aside, don’t those dates look delicious? Big medjool dates – like candy….
Since my salt jar was pretty and it would provide some symmetry with the almond butter, I decided to throw that in and see how it looked…
I liked it and the sun was fading so this was my final shot with just a little sprinkle of the salt alongside the jar. Maybe I should have kept the chips spilling out of the bag. Oh well!
The dates and almond butter are mixed in the food processor with a little bit of water…
And rolled into balls which I had just enough time to do before “chocolate gate” happened (just keeping it real, folks)…
A friend called asking if I could pick up her child from school down the street. I got half way there and thought to myself, “did I put away the chocolate chips?”. I turned the car around and ran into the house to find that I had actually put them out of reach of our dog. Phew. Dogs and chocolate are a no no…
But when I returned from what was literally a 20 minute excursion, I opened the door to find the dog sneezing and a box of cocoa powder spilled onto my dining room carpet. What happened??? I had left the door to my “pantry” cabinet open and the little muffin somehow found the box, dragged it across the kitchen and into the dining room. She bit the top off and probably inhaled just enough to land her at the vet for a little chocolate “retrieval”. I couldn’t resist taking this picture which pretty much sums up how we both felt. What is that old saying, “no good deed goes unpunished?”…
My friends know I am slightly obsessed with our little lady so it was a bit of a taxing afternoon for both of us I might say!
Salted Chocolate Date Balls prep had to resume the next day. They had plenty of time to firm up in the fridge, after which I rolled them in some melted chocolate and sprinkled a little flaked salt on top. This is where you can get really creative and consider topping them with chopped nuts, flaked coconut or even some edible gold leaf to jazz them up. You could definitely substitute a dark or white chocolate if you would prefer. The important thing is that you need to keep them stored, covered, in the fridge where they should last for about a week…
A perfect little bite. Just keep them out of reach of doggies…
Please let me know if you make Salted Chocolate Date Bites and what you think!
See you next week!
One Year Ago: Homemade Salt Scrubs
Two Years Ago: Sarah Bernhardt Cookies
Adapted from "Giada's Feel Good Food" by Giada De Laurentiis.
These bites are a delicious alternative to sugar laden treats, especially at the holidays but at any time of year! Instead of the flaked salt, you could sprinkle the bites with finely chopped pistachios, coconut or even a colored salt if you'd like. Try a chunky almond butter for a different texture!
- 14 ounces dried Medjool dates, pits removed
- 2 Tablespoons unsalted creamy almond butter
- 2 Tablespoons water
- 1 cup chocolate chips (you can use vegan chips, semi-sweet or dark chocolate if you would like)
- 2 teaspoons coconut, safflower or grapeseed oil
- 3/4 teaspoon flaky sea salt
- Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
- In a food processor, combine the pitted dates, almond butter and water. Blend until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed with a rubber spatula. Remove the mixture to a bowl and chill in the freezer for 10-15 minutes (this allows the mixture to firm up just a bit making the balls easier to roll).
- Using a 1 teaspoon measuring scoop, roll the mixture into little balls and place on the prepared baking sheet. Allow to chill until firm.
- Place the chocolate chips and the oil in a heat-proof bowl over simmering water. Stir occasionally until the chocolate is melted and smooth, 2-3 minutes.
- Using a fork, dip the date balls in the melted chocolate to coat evenly, allowing any excess to drip back into the bowl. Return the date bites to the baking sheet and sprinkle with the salt.
- Refrigerate until the chocolate has set, about 30 minutes.
- Store covered in the refrigerator for up to a week.
Delicious! I’m adding them to my holiday ‘cookie’ line up and I’m sure they will be a hit. Thank you Valerie.
Wonderful, Carrie! Thank you!!!