Julia's Bliss Balls

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17 oz 500 g dried, pitted dates
1 Tbsp 15 mltahini
1 Tbsp 15 ml hot water/juice
1 1/3 cups 333 mlof nuts and seeds (I used a mix of pecans, almonds, cashews and sesame seeds)
1/3 cup83 ml shredded coconut
1 Tbsp15 ml cocoa powder
Options:
3 Tbsp 45 mlrum

In a dry pan, TOAST the nuts – watch them carefully – golden only, no black.
When you are finished the nuts, REMOVE them and TURN THE HEAT OFF, TOAST the seeds and coconut with the residual heat in the pan. This won’t take long!
PROCESS the nuts to small pieces (pulse mode).
SET ASIDE the nuts, seeds and coconuts.
SQUISH the dates with your hands and put them into a processor. (REMOVE any pits that made it past the pitting process)
PROCESS the dates and tahini (maybe in 2 or more batches) until they are not dates anymore. It will now be a thick paste. I don’t have a processor, so did 2 batches with my hand whizzer. It was good for a couple minutes at a time, then it got hot and I had to put it in the freezer for a while to cool off (the machine, not the dates!) After talking to my elders, I realize that adding a little (1 Tbsp) of hot water to the dates makes this job a lot easier.
In a large bowl, KNEAD the date paste and the nuts, seeds and coconut (and rum, but I would add this later, after making a few balls for the kids first) together.
SPRINKLE a bit of the cocoa on the plate.
MAKE balls and put them on the plate.
SPRINKLE balls with more cocoa.

Notes: Makes 12-24 balls. Can be refrigerated. We don’t know if they can be frozen, but I’d bet they could.

Julia’s original recipe - you may prefer her method. Or you may develop your own!
Alright, here is the much promised recipe for bliss balls. I debated calling them 'Balls that won't make you sick unless you're allergic to seeds, nuts, coconut or dates' but bliss balls seems to be more appealing.

So, first step is to get your hands on1/2 kilo pitted and dried dates (or about 4 cups).

Take the dates and smush them up into a food processor or hand blender-esque thing. If using a hand blender esque machine, you should do them in small batches and perhaps rinse out the container after 2 rounds to make sure it doesn't get too sticky and make strange noises. Usually this hasn't happened to me but it did this time since i was making twice as much as usual....

You should process them (use the pulse motion) until they roll themselves into a ball. Beware of the pits that were not in fact pitted - I found 2. This is why you smush them first with your hands.

*I forgot to mention the important step of really washing your hands and removing rings because this is going to get messy. dates are very very sticky. perhaps even wear a headband because my hair kept slipping into my eyes and i had to get jason to tuck it behind my ear because i was covered in datey goodness*

By this time the dates should be some sort of paste without big chunks. I mixed in 1 tablespoon of tahini (but you can use any nut butter) to get that nutty flavour throughout. The easiest way to mix is to flatten the paste out and stick the tahini on top and then mix and mix with your hands. It's like kneading dough except that you aren't making gluten so it doesn't get all connected and smooth. Outside will be smooth, but the mixture will still crack in the middle. oh and it's also not like dough because it's dates.

Next, take toast your favorite nuts and seeds. I did 1/2 c pumpkin seeds, 1/4 sunflower, about 1tbsp sesame seeds, 1/3 c cashews and 1/3 c almonds. Remember that little things toast faster than big things and toast accordingly. Use a dry pan on low heat. Stir a lot. Do not walk away. You want them to turn colour a little but not burn! They will keep toasting after you turn off the burner so transfer right away to your food processor tool of choice. The sesame seeds will totally burn if on too long, so I will repeat, do not ignore!

Next blend up your nuts and seeds - you should have about 1 1/3 cups or so. And then toast up 1/3 c of shredded coconut (unsweetened). I do the coconut separately because i really worry about it burning.

So this next part becomes a personal choice of how you want to mix it all. I flatten all the date paste again and then throw the warm and toasty (and great smelling) coconut on top and then fold in much like the tahini. Usually this is done in a nice sized mixing bowl. After that is time to mix in the seeds and nuts. Before i used to throw all the nut/seed mixture in with the coconut and then try to mix it all, but this time i did it for each individual ball and i think it was faster and didn't take longer. i moved the paste to one side of the bowl and then threw 1/3 of my nut/seed mix into the other part of the bowl. This way i could take about 1/2 tablespoon of paste and squish it into the seeds (flatten it again and it will pick up the bits of goodness) and then squish it all up and then roll into a ball in my hands. If you are mixing in too much nuts, the ball breaks apart. (nuts and balls, nuts and balls). Too little and it's really just a date ball. Usually about halfway through I realise that the first 3 balls are too date heavy and i re-do them. Meh, is meditative or something i figure. when rolling in your hand you get a feel for the right consistancy. if you are right on the cusp of too little paste you can ususally just push the ball together and it's fine.

with this much ingrediant, you can get between 12 and 24 balls depending on how big or small you want them to be. don't worry if you change partway, the paste actually works better the more you work it, so if you are like me and get to the end and realise you made some that were way too big, just break them up and rework them. I like to max out the nuts and seeds in them - the date paste is just a binder (yet a tasty binder at that). if you don't mix in enough nuts and seeds it can also taste a bit too date-ish.

I didn't mention it but as you run out of nut and seed mixture, add more. The bonus of adding it in as needed is if you are like me and you actually made too much, you will have some left over and you can just throw in the fridge to use on top of gratin or veggie bake or salad or something. Somehow I ended up with 1 2/3 cups of nut/seed mix (apparently my math was bad) but that's okay, it tastes good on everything.

Next take a pic cause you are feeling oh so good about yourself. Use your kitten ironing board as a backdrop. Then realise you've forgotten the cocao.
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Sprinkle a teaspoon or so of cocao on top of bliss balls. I tried to do this using a spoon and a sifter and totally dumped all the cocoa on like, 3 balls. So if you do that, try to mix them all around afterwards. the cocoa should stick. The amount of cocoa is really subjective though, i like the contrast of the cocoa to the sweetness, but maybe its too much for you. make a test one and see if you like it or not. add less if you don't want it so strong. meh, there's no accounting for taste.

next, serve to people who are not allergic to nuts, seeds, coconuts, dates or anything else that you may have added. the celiacs should love you though, as should the vegans. for a raw version don't cook anything and if raw folk don't eat cocoa, then add whatever they eat instead.

yummy.

bliss balls.

after receiving much praise take full credit for the creations, never remembering the woman who has slaved over at least 8 batches of these little buggers to get them right. it's okay because she doesn't give any credit to the people who make them and sell them at grocery stores for 8x their price to produce. seriously, these things are cheap. 2 bucks worth of dates, plus 2 bucks worth of nuts and seeds... first batch perhaps pricey if you don't have the ingrediants to start but after buying the supplies you should have enough for a few batches.

also, use organic ingrediants if you want to be able to say, 'oh, and they're totally organic' to impress any of those people who get impresse by these things. actually, there's nothing stoping you from saying that even if you've bought irradiated goodness from Walmart. nothing but your conscience perhaps. keeping you awake at night.

speaking of walmart we just got their flyer and found a clock that jason bought for half the price they are selling it for. they are also selling a christmas village set complete with decked out walmart store in the middle. register for the free expansion set of the village main street christmas scene, complete with boarded up windows and 'for lease' signs on all the little shops.

oh, and lisa - one of your friends at the bbq wanted the recipe. i don't remember their name though...

can you freeze them? good question. i have frozen the date paste before (with tahini already added) and then defrosted in the fridge. it worked out fine. i'm not sure about after you add the nuts and seeds. i have one in the freezer right now and we'll see how it turns out in couple of days.

ta da!

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