Recently, one of the children in our family had to go on an extremely restricted diet for six weeks. No grains, dairy, corn, or corn products. That's basically everything that kids eat. It means no cereal, no milk, no ice cream, no cakes, sodas, pies, or anything else that contains sugar, wheat, or high fructose corn syrup.
Why am I telling you this in an article about an exquisite chocolate-soaked Valentine's Day recipe?
Because during those six weeks, I was introduced to some of the most extraordinary desserts, made with just a few basic, whole-food ingredients. So I offered a challenge to my friend Chef Jeannette: Come up with an absolutely scrumptious dessert for Valentine's Day that adheres to the same rules: no grains, dairy, corn products, or sugar.
She took the challenge. And the result is the healthiest sinful dessert you'll ever eat. It's packed with good fats from the coconut, fantastic cocoa flavanols that help lowerblood pressure, and minerals, and protein courtesy of the cashews. She even managed to sweeten it with a bit of rice syrup without breaking any of the rules. And it's mind-blowingly delicious, to boot.
Cocoa-Nut Truffle Balls
Makes 24 Truffles
To add variety, you can coat these balls in various toppings. Try: lime zest, orange zest, finely ground almonds, sesame seeds, finely ground candied ginger, cacao nibs, or even more dried coconut.
1 cup raw cashews, soaked for 20 minutes and drained well
1/3 cup brown rice syrup (or raw honey, softened)
Scant ½ cup raw cacao powder (or scant 1/3 cup high-quality cocoa powder)
½ tsp. vanilla extract
3/4 cup dried coconut (unsweetened)
- Combine cashews and rice syrup in food processor, and process until smooth. Add cacao, vanilla, and salt, and process until smooth. Add coconut, and process or pulse until well-incorporated. Taste, and adjust seasonings.
- Rest batter in freezer 20 minutes. Remove, and form into 1-inch balls, rolling each truffle thoroughly in coating, if desired. Store truffles in refrigerator.
PER SERVING: 89 cal; 2g pro; 5g total fat (3g sat fat); 8g carb; 0mg chol; 19mg sod; 2g fiber; 3g sugars
Notes fromChef Jeannette: For more variety, you can try flavoring the batter base with different extracts. If you'd like to try more than one, simply divide the batter and the suggested amounts of extract accordingly. For one full batch, you can blend in: ¼ teaspoon almond or orange extract; ½ teaspoon coconut extract; or 3/4 teaspoon peppermint extract, or to taste. Always start with less extract-you can add more if desired, but you can't take it out if you over-do. One of my favorite flavor combos is the batter base with orange extract, coated with a combination of dried coconut, curry powder, and a couple pinches of dried sweetener, such as finely ground palm sugar.
Jeannette Bessinger, CHHC, is a certified holistic health counselor and recipe developer. Jonny Bowden, PhD, CNS, is a nationally known health, nutrition, and weight-loss expert. Bessinger and Bowden have collaborated on numerous cookbooks, including their newest, The 150 Healthiest Slow Cooker Recipes. Visit them online at thecleanfoodcoach.com and jonnybowden.com.