Thursday, December 8, 2011

Chocolate Hazelnut Crispy Balls

It's definitely December!  This week, I made molasses crinkles for a Christmas cookie exchange at work, and pumpkin cream cheese muffins for today's bake sale.  Then there was my section's group Christmas lunch.  This weekend's a Christmas party with a bunch of my friends, and next week's our directorate Christmas party and Mom's birthday.  Add to that my cake decorating course is back in my weekly rotation, and my workouts, and my weekend walking group... yup, definitely December madness.  Good thing I'm done my Christmas shopping!  I think I'll be happy for the calm the new year brings.

Remember the energy bars I made for my workouts?  They're awesome! I'd still recommend them highly -- they do exactly what they promise to do -- but I'm always on the lookout for new things, right?  I decided to try these chocolate hazelnut crispy bars -- as a new workout snack.  But reading the recipe, it suggested making balls out of it instead, and really, balls are much more portable.  Plus, the hazelnut and chocolate in them really have the feel of Ferrero Rocher treats, so I feel like I'm treating myself after each workout.  Who wouldn't love that?!

This recipe I actually made a few weeks ago, and am only now getting around to posting it.  I told you I've been busy!  So I've been preserving the balls by freezing them.  They're surviving fine.  I pull one out of the freezer on the way to the gym, and by the time I'm done my workout it's thawed and ready for me.

Since making this recipe, I discovered I absolutely love hazelnut butter.  I was hesitant to try it before, since it's quite expensive, and I was afraid I wouldn't like it, but yum! I definitely do like it.  I recommend you treat yourself today.  If you like natural nut butters, this one's worth the money. 

Chocolate Hazelnut Crispy Balls
Makes: 24 balls

Ingredients:
1/4 cup unsalted raw hazelnuts, coarsely chopped
1 1/2 cups unsweetened brown rice cereal
3/4 cup rolled oats
2 1/2 oz dark chocolate (70% cocoa or greater), chopped into chunks (75 g or 1/3 cup + 2 Tbsp)
1 cup unsweetened dried pitted dates (Medjool or honey), pureed until smooth
1/2 cup unsalted hazelnut butter or your favourite unsalted natural nut butter
2 Tbsp raw honey

Directions:
In a medium mixing bowl, add hazelnuts, cereal, and oats and stir until combined.  Set aside.
Melt chocolate in a medium bowl over a double boiler.  Remove bowl from double boiler and, using a wooden spoon, add pureed dates, hazelnut butter, and honey to the melted chocolate.  Carefully stir until combined.  As mixture stiffens, set bowl over double boiler again as needed.
Add the chocolate mixture to the bowl with the cereal mixture and, using a wooden spoon, fold in until thoroughly combined.
Shape into 24 balls, with approximately 1 1/2 Tbsp mixture in each.  Refrigerate 30 minutes to one hour to allow mixture to set.  Balls can be kept covered in the fridge 3-5 days. (I've learned they'll survive fine longer than that in the freezer.)
The recipe suggests serving them with low-fat plain yogurt sweetened with raw honey.  I haven't tried it myself, but it sounds like it'd go well.

Enjoy!

Source:  Best of Clean Eating Magazine, page 218.

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