When my kids were little I held out on giving them candy as long as I could. Books for Valentine’s Day, Jiffy Pop instead of soda pop for a campout, and plastic eggs filled with cheerios, raisins and stickers for their Easter hunts. I knew they would eventually discover candy, but I was determined to postpone that day as long as possible. I would have made these truffles for them had I thought about it, and I’ll bet they’d have loved them. Creamy in texture, they are naturally sweet thanks to the dates and maple syrup, but not cloyingly so. Best of all, they are vegan and gluten-free, so you can gift them to all sorts of people. What better way to say ‘I love you’ than with a healthy, hand-made treat?
- 1 thin slice raw beet (peeled)
- 1 tablespoon (30 mL) water
- 1 cup (250 mL) unsweetened shredded coconut for rolling
- 1 teaspoon (5 mL) water
- 1 1/2 cups (375 mL) pitted dates (preferably Medjool)
- 3 tablespoons (45 mL) organic cocoa powder (I like Cuisine Camino brand)
- 2 tablespoons (30 mL) unsweetened shredded coconut
- 2 tablespoons (30 mL) quinoa flakes
- 1 teaspoon (5 mL) finely grated orange zest
- 1 tablespoon (15 mL) maple syrup
- Pinch of sea salt
- 2 – 3 tablespoons (30 – 45 mL) water or strong brewed coffee
- Cut beet slice in half and place in a small bowl; add 1 tablespoon (15 mL) water. Let sit 15 minutes or longer so the water turns vibrant pink. Discard beet and set water aside for tinting coconut garnish.
- While beet juice is steeping, look at your initial quantity (1 cup / 250 mL) coconut. If it is in large strands, as mine was, dump it on a cutting board and chop it a bit so the pieces are finer.
- Divide the 1 cup coconut into two shallow bowls.
- To one bowl, add the beet juice, 1 teaspoon at a time, stirring well after each addition. The coconut will take on a lovely pink hue; keep adding juice till you like the colour. Spread the coconut out in the bowl and let it dry a bit while you make the truffles.
- To the white coconut bowl, add 1 teaspoon of water and stir well to blend. The coconut will stick better to the truffles if it is a bit damp.
- Purée dates, cocoa powder, 2 tablespoons (30 mL) coconut, quinoa flakes, orange zest, maple syrup, salt and 2 tablespoons (30 mL) of water or coffee in a food processor until quite smooth, almost like chocolatey playdough.
- You want a moist dough that will stick together without being too wet to form a ball (pinch a bit together with your fingers to check).
- If dough is too dry, add more liquid, ½ teaspoon (2.5 mL) at a time. If you overdo it on the liquid, add more coconut or quinoa flakes, ½ teaspoon at a time, until mixture reaches desired consistency.
- Shape dough into approximately twenty balls, about ¾ inch (2 cm) in size, and roll in white or pink coconut.
- You can also flatten the balls and pinch them a bit to make them heart shaped before rolling in the toppings.
- Package them in some of those little boxes you’ve been saving for ever, knowing you’d need them one day, with mini muffin pan liners to separate the truffles.
- Store in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to one week.
Makes about 20 guilt-free truffles.