I am not fantastic at spotting food trends. I read the magazines, I subscribe to a handful of blogs, I chat to other foodies and I eat out a fair amount, but even so somehow I feel like everyone is in a secret food club that won’t let me in. It took me ages to find out that avocado toast was a “thing”, I still think Kale is the craziest ingredient in my refrigerator and I don’t even own a bottle of bitters. I just looked up Bon Appétit Magazine’s prediction for food trends in 2015 and I literally haven’t come into contact with a single one other than Shake Shack. (Mmmmmmm….Shake Shack.)
So with that lack of awareness going for me it should come as no surprise that I was the last person on the planet* to learn about BLISS BALLS the no-bake, no-sugar, super easy and super tasty treat that is sweeping Pinterest.
I stumbled across these tasty bundles of goodness at our neighborhood raw-vegan-coffeeshop-cafe called Nama. They sell little takeaway treats called “truffles” that they market as sugar-free and healthful. I’d been sneaking over for a few days and buying a bag (which is no small habit – these puppies are £4.50 for a bag of three) before I broke down and told our New Zealander nanny about this amazing find. “You wouldn’t believe it!” I exclaimed, ” No sugar. Totally healthy. So delicious!” “Wait,” she requested, “are they about this big?” she motioned with her thumb and forefinger to create an inch. “Yes!” I responded. “And they have them in different flavors, right?” “Yes again!” I responded. “And no sugar, right?” “Yes!” I emphatically declared.
“Yeah,” she said with a smile that indicated she felt a bit sorry for me, “those are Bliss Balls. They are all over New Zealand and Australia now.”
And damn if she wasn’t right! Turns out there are literally a million results on Google for Bliss Balls (no promises that those are all food recipes…) and Pinterest nearly broke when I searched for Bliss Balls. They are everywhere. You can find write ups, recipes and testimonials on kiddie-food blogs, health-food blogs, how-to-lose-weight-after-having-a-baby blogs, vegan food blogs and even on some regular-old-what-can-we-scare-up-for-dinner blogs (like this one).
I was bordering on a two-bag-a-day habit from Nama when I realized it was time for me to crack the code and make these puppies myself. It took a while to work up the nerve because they seemed so complex and so much like something someone who wasn’t me would make. Eventually I broke down, hit the nut aisle (hard) at the grocery store and tried my hand at several different flavor combinations searching for something that would, let’s face it, trick me and my family into thinking we were eating tasty cake treats. I had some pretty horrible starts (a matcha + dark chocolate chips and a lime zest + macadamia one were both extremely bad) but I also quickly figured out which nuts I liked best and which combos worked most easily. I settled on two that were just plain fantastic, and I have remade each several times.
You will notice a pretty basic formula here: nuts + dates + flavoring = Bliss Balls. I found loads of recipes that called for maple syrup or honey and plenty that call for dehydrated fruits or veggies but in my opinion the beauty of these is that they are really simple, really good for you and can be made with minimal ingredients.
My husband, who has a strong no-super-foods policy, came around immediately to these as did our 7-year-old, our 5-year-old and our 1-year-old. I would recommend that once you try your hand at one or two batches using a basic recipe and then try your hand at making them on your own. Taste the mixture at various stages and think about what ingredients you like that you could maybe incorporate. I’m thinking now about almonds + dried blueberries + lemon zest….I wonder if you could make one that tasted like a lemon-blueberry-muffin? I’m on it and I’m calling it. Top food trend for 2016. Bliss Balls.
You heard it here first.
- 100g shelled almonds (blanched or plain)
- 140g dates
- 75g cashew butter
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 2 heaping teaspoons cacao powder
- 1 teaspoon water
- 2 teaspoons sesame seeds
- 50g dessicated coconut (either plain or toasted)
- Put the almonds, dates and cashew butter in a food processor fitted with the metal chopping blade. Process for about 60 seconds. Add the rest of the ingredients and then process for 15 seconds until well blended. Remove food processor bowl from the machine.
- Sprinkle coconut onto a baking tray.
- Scooping up about a tablespoon of mixture (14g to 17g) roll it in a ball in the palms of your hands. Roll through the coconut making sure the entire surface of the bliss ball comes into contact with the coconut so that it will stick.
- Place in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
- Preheat oven to 325F/160C.
- Spread coconut flakes on a baking sheet in a thin layer and bake for 5-10 minutes. Check them frequently and remove when they start to brown.
- 100g unsalted cashews
- 100g dates
- 50g finely shredded carrot (about 2 small carrots)
- 100g desiccated coconut - separated into two batches of 50g
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 2/3 teaspoon nutmeg
- Put the cashews and dates in a food processor fitted with the metal chopping blade. Process for about 60 seconds. Add half of the coconut (saving 50g to roll the balls in afterward) then the rest of the ingredients and process for 30 seconds until well blended. Remove food processor bowl from the machine.
- Sprinkle coconut onto a baking tray (you can also add any left over shredded carrot).
- Scooping up about a tablespoon of mixture at a time (14g to 17g) roll it in a ball in the palms of your hands. After it is spherical, roll it through the coconut on the baking tray making sure the entire surface of the bliss ball comes into contact with the coconut so that it will stick.
- Place into an airtight container and refrigerate. Will keep for at least 4 days - I don't know past that because they always get eaten.