Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Just a Little Something Sweet

You know how sometimes you just have to have a little something sweet? Like you just can't go on if you don't have something - soon! Well, last evening I got that craving. Having been working frantically to get all the appetizer components made that can be made in advance, the last thing I felt like doing was making a dessert.

Some years ago, when I went on a completely RAW diet, where nothing at all is cooked or baked, I got very familiar with little dessert treats that can be whipped up in no time and really satisfy that craving. Once eating RAW, my cravings were satisfied far more easily. There are some very lovely dessert presentations to be found  on the internet these days for RAW desserts. Ice creams are easily made using nut or seed milks as a base. But what I loved most are these sweet little balls that can be made and kept refrigerated for when that craving hits. One of the first was Brownie Bites. Oh my! Whether on a RAW diet or not, those were just plain good. 

RAW Brownie Bites

RAW Brownie Bites
Makes 25 balls, about 48 calories apiece

1 cup pecans, finely ground
1 cup dates, packed tightly
6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tablespoons agave nectar
3 packets sweet leaf stevia (or approximate)
3 tablespoons cocoa powder, for dredging
2 packets sweet leaf stevia, for dredging

Combine first 5 ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth and balled-up. Form into about 25 small balls about 1-inch in diameter, and then roll these into a mixture of the 3 tablespoons cocoa powder mixed with the 2 extra packets of stevia. Keep refrigerated.

Later I discovered how easy it was to make varied dessert balls, or "RAW Cookie Dough" recipes. No eggs are involved in these, so no problem with bacteria. Just use nuts (often cashews or almonds, with their milder flavor as a base) and the addition of other things as desired. Dried fruits are great, either as an addition or as in the case of my own recipe for Fruit and Nut Balls, just a lot of wonderfully sweet dried fruits and nuts mixed together. 

Fruit and Nut Balls
Fruit and Nut Balls

RAW Fruit and Nut Balls

Makes about 30 balls @ 68 calories each

¼ cup dried apricots, finely minced
¼ cup dates, finely minced
¼ cup craisins, finely chopped
¼ cup dried blueberries, finely chopped
½ cup walnuts, finely chopped
½ cup almonds, finely chopped
¼ cup agave nectar
1 tsp dried orange peel
¼ cup ground flax seed
2 packets Stevia
¼ cup almond butter

Mix all ingredients in a bowl until well combined. With hands, scoop up enough to pack together and roll into approximately 1-inch balls, then roll balls in either ground nuts, or coconut. Store in the refrigerator.

RAW Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
Remaining RAW Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
Anyway, back to last night. Raw cashews make a wonderful "cookie dough" base. However, I had no more raw cashews, having used up the last of them in a curry recently; drat... So, improvising, I had a craving for oatmeal cookies (I love oatmeal cookie dough - the real cookie dough, meant to be baked) and thought I'd use raw rolled oats. I am not totally sure if oats are heated when they are rolled, but I did not cook them, so I started out with almond meal/flour, added flax, some unsweetened coconut, and the oatmeal and tossed those things into the food processor. I should have stopped to grind the flax seeds first, as not many of them were ground in the processor. I was just in too much of a hurry to make my dessert to stop and take the time ;-)

I used agave syrup as the binder. I wanted chocolate chips and happened to have a partial bag of mini chips, so I mixed some of those in too. Chocolate chips are not RAW, so if you are being very strictly RAW, use Cocoa Nibs instead. Didn't have any of those on hand last night either.  If you do not want to use the oatmeal, or if making these Gluten-Free, add more almond meal, coconut or flax. The amount of agave syrup needed will depend on how much of the other ingredients are used. My "recipe" was written down after the fact, so the amounts are approximate. Watch when adding the syrup to see how the mixture comes together. If it is too dry, add more syrup. If it got too wet, add more of the dry ingredient(s) of preference. For now, this is more or less what I did for my craving last night. I ate about 3 of these little balls before they ever got to be balls, but by that time I was completely satisfied, so the rest are waiting for me in the fridge for whenever that desire strikes.

RAW Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Size of my Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
Size of my Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Makes about 24 one-inch balls

1/3 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1/2 cup flax, ground
1/2 cup almond meal
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup agave syrup
more oats, if needed
1/4 cup mini chocolate chips or cocoa nibs

Place the first 5 ingredients into a food processor and process until broken. Add the vanilla and with the processor running, add the syrup in a stream until the mixture starts to come together in a ball. Stop the processor as soon as this starts. If more syrup is needed, add more by hand. If the mixture is too wet, add more oatmeal. Fold in the chocolate chips and form into tiny, one-inch balls. If any are left, store in the refrigerator. Enjoy!

My passion is to teach people how to create a harmony of flavors with their cooking, and help pass along my love and joy of food, both simple and exotic, plain or fancy. I continue my journey in ethnic and domestic cuisines, trying new things weekly. Join me at A Harmony of Flavors Website and Marketplace, Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. I am also on a spiritual journey and hope you will join me at my new blog, An Eagle Flies.