I am not usually one to go crazy for Christmas food. My rapt devotion to chocolate is fully trans-seasonal and only intensified by this time of year, and I don’t really feel drawn to the heavy flavours and textures of stodgy mincemeat or stuffing. In fact, does anyone really?
However, I recently concocted these little healthy Christmas balls for the guys at Free People and it turns out you can always change your views. Now I officially love Christmas food. Raw Christmas cake and cacao, to be precise.
These have a happily small ingredients list and are super quick to throw together, so in fact they’re even more appealing than pies or cake anyway. It is vital to use organic apricots as the supermarket-bought ones are full of sulphites to keep them orange and these we don’t really want in our bloodstream. God forbid we feel drawn to buy a naturally brown dried fruit.
The ginger is warming without being overbering, as standard all spice sometimes can. Cinnamon is extra good here – and during long haul overeating sessions like Christmas – because it is an amazing blood sugar and insulin regulator and keeps sweet cravings at bay. The coconut and cacao coating can easily be made without sweetener if you’re up for it, otherwise a drop of maple adds a salty-sweet edge.
I have nothing more to say on these. Make them and you’ll see for yourselves.
Makes about 20 little balls
100g ground almonds
100g medjool or pitted dates
120g dried apricots
zest of 1 small orange
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp vanilla paste or a few drops vanilla extract
A pinch of sea salt
2 tbsp coconut oil
1 tbsp creamed coconut
2 tbsp cacao powder
Optional maple syrup
In a food processor, pulse all the ingredients until they form a paste – but make sure there are still some chunks.
Roll the mixture into little balls – big or small, it’s up to you – and place in the freezer on baking parchment.
Meanwhile, gently melt the coconut oil and creamed coconut in a pan on a low heat. Add the cacao and maple (if using), and stir until thoroughly mixed. Remove the pan from the heat and let the mixture cool until it is a thick syrup with the texture of runny honey. Then bring your bites from the freezer and dip each one into the coating. It will harden almost immediately.
Place each bite back on the parchment and keep in the freezer until forty minutes or half an hour before serving, when you want to move them to the fridge.
Serve chilled and keep any leftovers in the fridge for next time, or midnight Christmas cravings.