So Christmas is almost upon us. Again. Carols and jingles on the radio. Shiny lights in the streets. Santa ads on the telly. Minced pies and mulled wine. Smells of ginger, cloves and cinnamon.

It’s the same story every year. You think you have lots of time to get everything done. And then BANG, it’s December and so many things are scheduled and you are left wondering how you are going to fit it all in. Personally, I feel this time of year should be all about family, friends and relaxation. Not stress… And about good food of course! This year I got the present shopping done early, so not to be stressing about that. My plan is to have plenty of time to concentrate on making edible presents in the week or two before the holiday season kicks in. So far this is working pretty well, I have to say.

Christmas is about traditions. It is about preserving the ones we grew up with. It is also about creating new ones as life changes. A few years ago I began making my own Christmas treats. It can really get you into the spirit of the season. Baking ginger bread men and toffees made me reminiscing of fond childhood memories from this time of year. The smells of ginger, cloves, cinnamon and cardamom. When the hot biscuits come out of the oven. Or the chewy toffees with that indulgent taste of cream, butter and dark sugar.

This new tradition of mine has grown and developed into a way of making edible presents to give away to the people who means a lot to me, as a way of saying thank you for their friendship and support throughout the year. Giving away something someone has put love and effort into is often much more appreciated, than just any old tin of biscuits you pick up from the shop.

 

Treats

The type of treats I make can vary from year to year. This year, in the spirit of nutrition and health I have decided to give away some truffles.  Healthy ones, that can be enjoyed by everyone. Most traditional treats are full of sugar, cream and butter. Nothing wrong with that the odd time, but it won’t work if you are intolerant to dairy or gluten. Or  perhaps you just fancy a lighter alternative amongst all the calorie dense stuff, without sacrificing taste. Then these truffles are perfect. It is hard to believe they are actually good for you!

Date Truffles are probably not the most original recipe. You can find endless variations of them all over the internet. However they are so easy to make and the perfect guilt free treat. (Well in my humble opinion anyway) I couldn’t decide which taste combination to give you so I give you three. Then you can be sure there is something to please everyone.

 

Date Truffles Three Ways

Makes 15 truffles

Basic mix:

2 cups pitted dates

2 tbsp raw cacao

1 tbsp coconut oil, melted

1 tbsp cacao butter, melted – This is optional. If you can’t get it substitute for coconut oil

1 1/2 tbsp ground almonds – Use ground sunflower seeds if nutfree

1 tbsp shredded coconut

Flavouring options:

OPTION 1 – Orange & Coconut

1 tbsp freshly squeezed orange juice

1/2 tbsp orange zest

shredded coconut to roll the truffles in

OPTION 2 – Coffee & Cardamom

1 tbsp very strong coffee

1 tbsp raw cacao + 1/2 tsp ground cardamom to roll the truffles in – Alternatively you could add the cardamom to the basic mix

OPTION 3 – Chili & Liqorice

1/2 tsp dried chili flakes

1/2 tsp liquorice powder

Good quality coco powder + 1/2 tsp liquorice powder to roll the truffles in

Gently melt the coconut oil and cacao butter in a double boiler. Add dates, melted oil and the rest of the ingredients to your food processor. Add your choice of flavours. Blend until a sticky dough is formed. This will take a minute or two. I chose not to soak the dates before hand as it will give a more solid truffle. Roll little truffle balls with your hands and then roll them in some shredded coconut or cacao powder. Store your truffles in the fridge in an airtight container until you are ready to serve them. Or give them away! They will keep for a week in the fridge.

 

Date Truffles