Chocolate craving! Time for something chocolatey good. With nuts. Yes LOTS of nuts. Oh and some peanut butter. Dried fruit in there … ah yes. And to add a little bit more healthy yumminess, some oats.
Roll it all into a little ball and what do you have? A quick, healthy snack. Not one you want to eat a LOT of at one sitting because they are a bit calorific, but something you can grab on the go when you need a little energy, especially before or after a good workout. An energy byte! (Terrible geeky pun intended.)
I like to eat one of these for a bit of dessert after a good meal, or when I am running out the door and need something fast to grab for a quick bit of energy. Or when you need a quick chocolate fix, but you don’t want to totally destroy your healthy eating plan. A little bit of chocolate and a few nuts every day are very good for your health.
Chocolate, Fruit & Nut Energy Bytes
You could use a good quality dark chocolate in place of the almond bark and cocoa powder. I just didn’t have enough on hand, so I decided to make my own “chocolate”!
- 2 squares of almond bark (or white chocolate)
- 4 Tablespoons dark cocoa powder
- 3 Tablespoons of Chocolate PB2 powder
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/4 cup peanut butter
- 1 cup quick-cooking oats
- 2/3 cup nuts (I used a mix of peanuts and cashews)
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries
- 1/2 cup dried apricots, chopped into bits
- Coarse sea salt
- Melt the almond bark in a medium mixing bowl in the microwave by microwaving on high for 1 minute, stir, microwave for 30 seconds, stir again, keep microwaving for 30 seconds/stirring until the white almond bark is completely melted.
- Stir in the dark cocoa powder, PB2 powder, vanilla and peanut butter and stir until the mixture is smooth and creamy.
- Stir in the oats, nuts, cranberries and apricot bits until everything is coated in chocolate. Form the mixture into balls and set on a tray. Sprinkle the bytes with a bit of coarse sea salt.
- Set it in the fridge until the chocolate is set, then transfer to a covered storage container. You can store these at room temperature or in the fridge, as you prefer. I like to eat them at room temperature so I’m not bothering to refrigerate mine. They aren’t going to last that long anyway!
One of my girlfriends, when she tasted these truffles, told me (in a quiet voice so the “boys” wouldn’t hear) that these truffles are almost better than sex. I laughed, and she said, “I’m serious!” … since then, a couple of my other girlfriends have confirmed her opinion … and I’m quite curious to see what my male friend says about them. He better hurry though, or he is totally going to miss these truffles!
There is a story behind this recipe … I started out to make brownie bites for the party, baking them in my mini-muffin tin. The first batch I put raspberries in the middle of the brownies and I undercooked them. They tasted really good, but they were just too gooey to eat. I didn’t want to throw them out … what a waste of good chocolate that would be!
So I decided to make my brownies into truffles. And while I was thinking about how to do this, I was chatting with my friend online … he had just gone to the vending machine to find something to eat:
Me: so what did you find to eat?
Him: Peanuts and Coke.
Me: lol peanuts are good
Him: I needed some fluids and sugar. I was getting the shakes really bad.
Me: Shakes are not good …
… unless they’re chocolate
Him: Chocolate and raspberry
Something about him saying “chocolate and raspberry” in the context of a milkshake while I was in the midst of figuring out how I was going to make my chocolate/raspberry truffles made me think “raspberry cream” … and that’s how they got the raspberry cream center.
Raspberry Cream Brownie Truffles
- 1/3 cup raspberries (fresh or frozen … if you are using fresh, pack them into the cup a bit … thaw out the frozen ones before adding them)
- 8 oz light cream cheese
- 2 Tablespoons honey
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon rose vodka or Chambord (raspberry liqueur) … (optional)
- 2/3 cup good quality semi-sweet chocolate chips (I used Ghirardelli)
- 1 2/3 cups brownie “crumbs” (about 10 brownie bites) … mine wouldn’t exactly make crumbs. I just broke them into small pieces as best I could. I do recommend you undercook your brownies just a bit so they are a little soft and gooey for the truffles. Here’s the brownie recipe I used.
- 1 1/3 cups crushed chocolate graham cracker crumbs, ground into a fine powder in a handi chopper or food processor (if you can’t find chocolate graham crackers, just crush up some chocolate cookies)
- For dipping: 2 high quality chocolate bars (4-oz. each) … (I used Ghirardelli)
- First, make the raspberry cream: mix the raspberries with the cream cheese, honey, vanilla and liquor. Divide this creamy berry mixture in half, putting half of it in a container in the fridge for later.
- In a small microwave-safe bowl or double boiler, melt the chocolate chips. (Microwave on high for one minute, stir, then microwave 30 seconds, stir … repeat until you can stir out all the lumps of chocolate.)
- Mix the rest of the cream mixture with the melted chocolate chips, the brownie “crumbs”, and the chocolate graham cracker crumbs. Cover the bowl and set in the freezer for an hour or so to chill or in the fridge for several hours.
- When the chocolate “dough” is good and cold, it’s time to form the truffles! Choose a cookie sheet or other flat pan that will fit in your freezer. Take a small spoonful of the dough and shape it into a little cup in your hands. Put about 1/2 teaspoon of the raspberry cream mixture into the cup, then add a little more chocolate “dough” on top to cover the cream and form it into a ball shape. Set the ball on the pan and repeat until you’ve used up all the dough. Somehow I came out just about right … there was enough cream and chocolate to make a bunch of truffles (I’m not quite sure how many there were, though.) Don’t worry if the cream isn’t covered all the way or if some of the balls are bumpy. We’re going to dip these in chocolate anyway.
- Put the balls into the freezer and let them chill for several hours or overnight.
- When you are ready to dip your truffles, prepare an area to set them by laying out some waxed paper. I like to put them on a cookie sheet so it is easy to move them or stick them in the fridge if I need to (which is sometimes necessary on a hot day like it was the day I was making these!).
- Break the chocolate bars into pieces and melt in the microwave or over a double boiler, taking care to melt just till the chocolate is smooth and no longer. Dip each ball in the chocolate, rolling it around with a spoon to cover all the sides. I then stuck a toothpick in the ball and shook it a little (so there’s some chocolate left for the rest of the truffles!) and then put it on the waxed paper, sliding the toothpick out when quickly before the chocolate sets up. You can use the spoon to remove it too, or your fingers … no matter how you do it, it’s going to be a little messy (but hey, who doesn’t like to be covered in chocolate?).
- Once you’ve dipped all the truffles, let them sit until the chocolate is set. You may need to put them in the fridge to get the chocolate to set up … once it is set, transfer the truffles into a covered container to store in the fridge.
Craving. Chocolate. Peanut butter. Nagging, nagging. Helllooooo. Chocolate. NEED Chocolate! Peanut butter. Mmm. Peanut butter. Nagging. Craving. Peanut Butter. Chocolate. CHOCOLATE!
Bonbons … Mmm. Bonbons. Yes. Chocolate. Peanut butter. Yes, yes, yes. Ah! Better.
I feed my cravings with high quality ingredients and then I also try to lighten up my favorite decadent treats. If they taste really good, I find I don’t need to eat large quantities of them. These are sort of like a Reese’s peanut butter cup, except they’re healthier.
Chocolate Peanut Butter BonBons
Heavily adapted from Baby Gizmo Blog. To reduce the fat, I used PB2 in place of half of the peanut butter, which is a powdered form of peanut butter with 85% of the fat removed. If you can’t find it at your local grocery store (in the health food section), you can order it online.
- 1 1/4 cup graham cracker crumbs (chocolate or regular … whatever you prefer/have on hand … I used a mix of both)
- 1/4 cup flaxmeal
- 1/2 cup PB2 (chocolate or regular or a mix of both … I used half chocolate/half regular)
- 1/4 cup fat free half & half
- 1/2 cup natural peanut butter
- 1/4 cup honey
- 1/4 cup light cream cheese
- For dipping: good quality dark chocolate and mini chocolate chips … I am not sure how much I used because I grabbed some bar chocolate then added chips to it, but I would guess it would be about 1 – 1 1/2 cups of dark chocolate chips plus a cup of mini chocolate chips
and How I (almost) Killed My Ninja Chopper
I had a funny naming conversation with my (male) friend about these truffles … it went something like this:
Me: Hey what do you think I should name those truffles?
Him: Bob … or Robert
Me: LOL, you’re funny
Him: Wait, I guess they really should be called Hazel … but that seems contradictory …should be a boy’s name
Me: because they have nuts?
The conversation deteriorated from there … we ended up with this name: “Surprise, Hazel has Nuts!” … which I thought was funny good. But then I had a thought afterwards … perhaps they could be “Date with a Nutty Monk” Truffles? … they are a bit like a Nutty Monk (the cocktail) and they have dates in them … so I’m going to let you choose whichever name you like.
I bought the Frangelico (a hazelnut liqueur) several weeks ago, intending to make some truffles. But I didn’t make them. I don’t know what was stopping me, maybe some other things just got in the way. Maybe it’s just too summery out there to think about things like truffles. Maybe I had other sources to satisfy my chocolate cravings. I’ve got to be in the right mood to make truffles.
But then my chocolate supplies ran low. My chocolate peanut butter granola bars dwindled, my Godiva truffles were gone, my Dove chocolates disappeared … there was some chocolate cake … but really, when I need chocolate, I need something more intense than cake.
So I set about to making my truffles finally. But I went about this all wrong. If you want to put dates in your truffles, you should SOAK the dates first so they are soft. If you don’t soak them, they could gum up your chopper and stress the motor and make you truly believe it died. My poor little chopper died that day … it wouldn’t whir at all, wouldn’t do anything. It came back the next day and has worked ever since, but I don’t think I really want to do that to it again … poor thing.
Mocha Frangelico Surprise Truffles
a.k.a. “Surprise! Hazel has Nuts!” Truffles, “Bob”, or “Date with a Nutty Monk” Truffles
This is a slightly revised method from mine, so that you don’t kill your chopper like I did.
- 1/4 cup frangelico (hazelnut) liqueur
- 1/4 cup Kahlua (or homemade coffee liqueur)
- 14 large dates
- 8 chocolate graham crackers, crushed into a fine powder (about 1 1/2 cups crumbs)
- 4 oz. light cream cheese
- 1/4 cup Nutella
- 2 squares dark chocolate, melted
- 1 Tablespoon high quality vanilla extract
- About 27 whole hazelnuts, toasted (You will need 1 for the center of each truffle … so the number of nuts you need depends on how big you make your truffles)
- 3/4 – 1 cup good quality dark chocolate chips (or a dark chocolate bar, broken into pieces), for dipping
- Chopped hazelnuts, for dusting the tops
Chop the dates into hunks and soak them in the liqueur for 15 minutes or until the dates have softened up. Then put the mixture into your handi chopper or food processor and process until the dates are a fine paste. Mix the date/liqueur mixture with the crushed crackers, cream cheese, dark chocolate, and vanilla until smooth. Chill the mixture in the fridge or freezer until it’s stiff enough to form into balls.
Spray your hands with cooking spray, then take a nut and a small spoonful of the mixture and shape the chocolatey goodness completely around the little nut. Set on a baking tray sprayed with cooking spray. When you have formed all the mixture into balls, set the tray in the freezer to chill for at least a couple hours.
Melt the dipping chocolate and take the chocolate nut balls out of the freezer. Set out a sheet of waxed paper on a flat surface. Using a spoon, swirl each little truffle around in the melted chocolate, then set on the waxed paper and sprinkle with chopped hazelnuts. Let set in a cool place until the dipping chocolate has set. Store in the fridge in an airtight container.
Share with your sweetie or your friends … or take them on a date with a nutty monk. ;)
These truffles are very noisy. They keep talking to me. Waking me up in the middle of the night. Interrupting me while I’m trying to work.
Maybe they got lonely after I dipped them in chocolate on Friday evening, then we went away for the weekend, but my gosh, now they won’t STOP talking!
Hush you noisy things. Let me work. No, I can’t eat truffles all day long. I must have lunch sometime. And in the deep dark depths of night I should be SLEEPING for gosh sakes! I have to work in the morning!
No, I haven’t time for a truffle now … I have to run to the store … can’t you wait?
Gosh such pester-some truffles these are. So insistent on making me eat them! Are you sure you want them in your kitchen?
Yes, you do. You really do. With a nice glass of red wine. Honestly, right now I feel like I never want to live without them. I am savoring every little bite, slowly, deliberately, holding it on my tongue to make that creamy dark chocolate cherry taste last as long as I possibly can … they can just keep on talking …
Chocolate Cherry Cabernet Talking Truffles
- 2.5 oz. of good quality dark chocolate, melted (I used Ghirardelli 70% dark chocolate for the filling)
- 5 chocolate graham crackers
- 1/2 cup sour cherries, pitted (I thawed some cherries that my dad had frozen from his cherry tree … so they were kind of soft and small and squished down into the cup a lot. I suppose you could use sweet cherries as well, but I like the tartness with the dark chocolate … if you use fresh ones, you may want to increase the amount.)
- 3 oz. light cream cheese
- 1/4 cup cabernet (I think it would also work well with shiraz or merlot or malbec or some other dark, dry red wine)
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (yes, trust me, the cayenne adds just a tiny bite that goes SO well with the chocolate, the wine, and the cherries …)
- 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 3 teaspoons of dark unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 and 1/4 bars of good quality dark chocolate, for dipping (I used Green & Black’s Organic 70% chocolate bars.)
- First make the filling. Put the graham crackers in a handi chopper or food processor and process until they are powdered. Add the cherries and process until the cherries and crackers form a paste.
- Put the cherry mixture in a bowl and stir in the remaining filling ingredients. Cover the bowl and set it in the refrigerator (or set it outside if it’s frigid outside like it is here!) for a couple hours to chill well.
- Spray your hands with cooking spray and form the sticky mixture into balls. This is a little tricky and sticky, and you may have to wash your hands and re-apply the cooking spray a few times. (I am thinking I may have to invest in some truffle molds one of these days … ) Set them on a tray as you finish the balls.
- Chill the truffle filling balls in a freezer (or outside!) for at least a couple hours or overnight.
- Time for the dipping! Line a tray or baking sheet with waxed paper. Melt the dipping chocolate over a double boiler or in the microwave. To melt it in the microwave, break the chocolate into small chunks in a bowl. Microwave on high for 60 seconds. Stir. Microwave for 30 seconds. Stir. A lot. If it’s not melted yet, microwave another 30 seconds, then stir again.
- Carefully roll the truffle balls in the melted chocolate with a spoon, then set them gently on the waxed paper, leaving a little space between your truffles.
- Once the chocolate has set, transfer the truffles into a covered containers and store in the fridge, somewhere in the back. Set something in front of them to hide them because you might have a hard time resisting these little chocolates.
“The story of a love is not important – what is important is that one is capable of love. It is perhaps the only glimpse we are permitted of eternity.”
~ Helen Hayes
Bailey’s Irish Cream Valentine Truffles
Makes 25 – 30 truffles. If you can’t find chocolate graham crackers, use chocolate cookies. These are dark chocolate truffles … if you prefer a lighter chocolate, eliminate the cocoa and cappuccino powder and use milk or semi-sweet chocolate in place of the dark chocolate.
For the Filling:
- 9 chocolate graham crackers (4.8 oz.), crushed and finely ground into a powder
- 4 oz. light cream cheese
- 1/2 cup plus 2 Tablespoons of Bailey’s Irish Cream (or homemade mocha cream liqueur)
- 2 teaspoons of good quality vanilla
- 2 Tablespoons of dark (dutch process) unsweetened cocoa powder
- 2 teaspoons of vanilla cappucinno powder
- 2 squares of dark chocolate (I used Ghirardelli 60% dark chocolate … each square is 0.375 oz. or 10.6 g)
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon pure almond extract
- 2 Tablespoons Nutella
For dipping and hearts:
- White almond bark or white chocolate chips & pomegranate seeds (optional)
- Good quality dark chocolate (I used Ghirardelli 60% cocoa … one 4 oz. chocolate bar plus an extra square or two)
- In a small mixing bowl, mix together all ingredients for the filling until well blended. Cover and chill in a freezer for 30 minutes or longer or until the mixture has firmed up enough to form into balls, but it’s not yet frozen hard.
- Spray a cookie sheet and your hands with cooking spray and form the filling into balls about 3/4 inch in diameter, setting the balls on the cookie sheet with some space in between them so they don’t stick together. If your hands start getting sticky, rinse off all the gooey chocolate mixture, spray your hands and start again until you have all the filling formed into balls.
- Set the cookie sheet in the freezer on a flat surface … or, if you happen to live in the frigid north and it’s a particularly cold day outside like it is here today, you can just set them outside to chill for a couple hours.
- (This step is optional … you can do a white chocolate drizzle much easier than the hearts, but I thought hearts would be nice for Valentine’s Day.) To make the white chocolate hearts, line another cookie sheet with a sheet of waxed paper. Melt a square of the white almond bark and put it in a ziploc bag. Snip off a small corner of the bag and pipe the white chocolate into heart shapes on the waxed paper. If you want, you can stick pomegranate seeds onto the hearts while they are still wet.
- Wait 15 – 30 minutes or so till the white chocolate has hardened, then carefully put one hand under the waxed paper and loosen the hearts from the paper, lifting each heart off the paper with your other hand and placing them on a plate.
- Set the waxed paper back on the cookie sheet.
- Once the chocolate truffle balls are cold and fairly firm, melt the dark chocolate in a bowl or double boiler. Using a spoon, swirl one ball at a time in the melted chocolate to cover it completely, then set carefully onto the waxed paper, taking care not to touch them with your hands. Immediately “glue” one of the white chocolate hearts onto the chocolate-covered truffle before dipping the next one (because the melted chocolate will harden fairly quickly). Set the cookie sheet in the refrigerator (or other safe cold place) until the chocolate is firm.
- Store the truffles in a covered container in the refrigerator.
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This recipe was also shared at Fabulous Valentine’s Ideas, a Valentine’s Day Blog Hop, Everyday Mom’s Church Supper, These Chicks Cooked Recipe Swap, Weekend Potluck, and Katherine Martinelli’s St Patrick’s Day Blog Hop.
I know I have mentioned how blessed I feel to have so many wonderful foodie friends. Nisreen from GreenCuisineList.com is one of them. I love Nisreen because not only is she a talented cook and wonderful friend, she is a woman of character … she works hard to inform people about the importance of encouraging, promoting, and eating healthy and organic and taking care of our earth. When Nisreen asked me if I would be willing to do a review of her organic chocolates, I jumped at the chance. Everything (and I mean everything!) I have seen from Nisreen looks absolutely mouthwatering. Just visit her facebook page and check out her photos and you will see what I mean.
Cocoa and Brown Butter Brownies with Cinnamon and Cayenne
I thought I would be taken with the chocolates, but these brownies totally stole my heart.
Made from all-organic ingredients: butter, fair trade cocoa powder, vanilla, eggs, sugar, flour, Himalayan crystal salt, cinnamon and cayenne pepper, they have a moist, soft texture with a tiny crunch and a taste that is truly out of this world. There is just a hint of cayenne, enough to make you wonder “what is that interesting flavor?” The creamy, dreamy dark chocolate, with the browned butter shining through and the spices perfectly balancing out the taste … I am definitely in love with these brownies. I savored every last tiny crumb of these delicious little nuggets.
Ginger Snap Cookie Chocolate Cup
Nisreen also sent me a sample of her Ginger Snap Cookie Chocolate Cups that have a fun sprinkle of ginger snaps on top and mixed throughout. You can taste the quality of the chocolate she uses in these chocolates, with a fun crunch of ginger snaps. Mmmm.
Peanut Butter and Blackberry Jelly cup
These organic chocolates have a beautiful swirl on top that made me wonder just what I would find inside. When you bite into them, you discover a lovely little pocket of peanut butter and blackberry jelly. I think I may have waited too long to eat them, because the peanut butter seemed a little dry, but I still thoroughly enjoyed the amazing chocolate with the hint of PB&J flavor in these lovely creations.
Nisreen is also offering Dark Chocolate Pomegranate Cups for Valentine’s Day and I hear she makes some killer Baklava too. I noticed you can order the brownies and baklava from Nisreen’s SweetBoxTreats Etsy store … or contact Nisreen on her GreenCuisineList facebook page. You won’t be disappointed.
At the very least, you should pop by and “like” her page on facebook. The recipes she shares are just as fabulous as her chocolates!