If you’re looking for something that’s not only lovely to look at, but also a good energy boosting snack to keep you going throughout the winter, then these is a great idea. They’re soft textured, decadent and sweet, but provide a few more nutrients than most of the other treats at this time of year, meaning you can enjoy them as well as anything else that takes your fancy.
The recipe I used was very much inspired by Niomi Smart’s, but I used oats too as I felt that such a compact ball of dried fruits might be a little too sweet (for me, anyway).
Read the method the night before you make these as some ingredients require advance preparation! The decoration was purely for aesthetic effect, as confirmed by my Dad who commented: “they could do without the shrubbery on top”, so feel free to use whatever is available to you.
For the puddings:
- 1 cup dates
- 3/4 cup oats
- 1/2 cup almonds
- 1/2 cup pecans
- 1/3 cup sultanas
- 4 dried apricots
- 1 tsp each of cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg (or mixed spice)
For the topping:
- 1/2 cup cashews
- 1 tbsp honey / agave nectar
- 4 tbsp milk (of your choice)
- 1 tbsp coconut oil
- 2 tbsp date water*
- Any small, red berries. (I used chopped cranberries because I couldn’t for the life of me find redcurrants)
- Pumpkin seeds.
- Soak your cashew nuts in water at room temperature, ideally overnight.
- Soak your dates in boiling water, just enough to cover them in a small mug. Keep the water from them for later!*
- Place all of the ingredients for the puddings – but only half of the oats – into a food processor. Alternatively, if you don’t own one (like me) attack them with a small blender for about an hour until you or the blender can’t take it any more.
- Remove the mixture from the blender and form a ball, fold in the rest of the oats by hand to give some texture, adding more if it’s too sticky.
- Wrap the ball in cling film and refrigerate it for around 15 minutes.
- During this time, make the topping. Start by melting the coconut oil (microwaving it for about 15 seconds and stirring works well).
- Then blend the cashews, honey / nectar, coconut oil, milk and date water. Add more milk if the mixture looks too thick, but you don’t want it too runny.
- Put the mixture in the freezer for around 10 minutes to thicken it a little.
- Now, return to your energy balls. Divide the mixture into equally sized pieces and roll each into a ball.
- Place them onto a plate and flatten the top slightly with the back of a spoon to allow the icing to sit well.
- Remove your icing from the freezer and put about a teaspoon onto each ball.
- Finally, decorate them with your choice of ingredients to replicate the holly and enjoy!
Verdict: The texture is similar to that of a Nakd bar, if not a little softer. I really enjoyed the taste of these but they are quite sweet, so perhaps I’d use more oats next time to bulk out the mixture and dilute the sweetness slightly. The icing is different for me as I’ve never used coconut oil or experimented with cashews before, but it was enjoyable in this quantity. I would definitely make these again!
Edit: It’s 00:13 am and I can see why these are called energy balls. Not ideal for an evening snack (although perhaps that was obvious for most people).