Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Date-Hazelnut Balls Dipped in Chocolate

Better (way) late than never.

For a holiday that's infamous for a week without bread, Passover sure involves a heck of a lot of food that contains matzo. Everyone has an odd favorite food to eat while being afflicted--matzo brie, for instance--and there are whole cookbooks devoted to soaking, pounding, and grinding matzo into food that's meant to be more interesting than plain buttered matzo. During Passover this year, I watched a mom spend a half hour turning matzo into pancakes in hopes that her son wouldn't beg for Cherrios. The result? Kid wrinkles his nose and says "they taste like matzo." Well, yeah.

The most ironic concoction I've come across this year is matzo cake meal--flour that's been baked into matzo then ground into flour. Oh I understand why the process is necessary (you might unintentionally consume something leavened if the "flour" you use isn't made from matzo, which has only been baked for a short amount of time and is certified by a rabbi). But if you really think about it, matzo cake meal isn't ironic at all. Passover is all about recreating the Exodus story and revising it to be relevant to our lives year after year. That's why we always list modern plagues (like hunger) alongside the ancient plagues (murrain, anyone?).

While Passover should be a gluten-free smorgasbord, you still have to be really careful. Matzo shows up in just about as many things as flour does during the rest of the year, though there do tend to be more meringues around than usual. This year, I took chocolate-dipped dried pineapple, dates, and apricots to my first seder. While I was dipping the dates, I slit a few, dabbed hazelnut butter into the cavity, closed it up, and dipped them in chocolate. Wow, yum. There's a reason why Nutella sells.

So for our seder, I wanted to expand on that idea a bit. I soaked dried dates in hot water then pureed them in the blender, added ground hazelnuts, and tasted. The concoction lacked the intense hazelnut flavor that I wanted so I add a big spoonful of hazelnut butter and a little salt. That really did the trick so if you're experimenting, definitely add some nut butter. I mixed it all up, rolled the glob into balls, dipped the balls in melted chocolate, and had dessert. Eat your heart out Ferrero Rocher. These are even good for you.

Date-Hazelnut Balls Dipped in Chocolate
Makes 18-20.

1/2 lb dried dates
1 c. ground toasted hazelnuts
2-3 tbsp. hazelnut butter
1/8 tsp. salt
3/4-1 c. chopped chocolate for melting

Soak the dates in hot water (especially if, like me, you don't own a Vitamix--I've already killed one mini chopper this year) for 10-15 min. Puree them in a food processor. Scrap into a bowl. Add the ground hazelnuts, salt, and hazelnut butter. Mix it all into a paste and roll into golf ball-sized balls.

Melt the chocolate (I generally microwave the chocolate for 30 sec., stir, then microwave for 15 sec. at a time, stirring in between, until the chocolate is fully melted). Coat the balls in chocolate by dropping each ball into the melted chocolate, rolling it around until fully covered, and lifting it out with a fork, allowing the excess to drip off. You can thin the chocolate with a little milk (cow, soy, coconut, whatever's your pleasure) if it's too thick by itself. Allow the balls to cool fully on wax paper.



Diane-The Whole Gang said...

I love the fact you made these into balls and then dipped them into chocolate. They look very pretty as well as tasting great I'm sure. I've made something similar. How many ways do you use your Vitamix?

Naomi Devlin said...

Oh yum! With these hazelnut balls you are really spoiling us! I think the president (or whoever it is that throws those kitsch fererro rocher parties) would be delighted to serve these to his more discerning guests!

x x x

Gluten Free in the Greens said...

Diane: Unfortunately, I don't have a vitamix (though I do have plenty of vitamix envy). I actually fried my mini chopper when I was pureeing the dates for these babies. I find that I can do most things with an immersion blender/mini chopper, and I have a hand mill for making homemade nut butter. I tend to rely on the coffee grinder for turning whole grains into flour, though I could use the hand mill for that.