November is finally here which is this years Vegan Month of Food. I decided on a topic I am calling Warming Winter Meals and for my first post I don’t really have a meal. But a warming snack. It contains dried fruits and nuts, which are both foods I do associate with winter.
These nut and fruit based balls are very, very easy to make. All you have to do is to chop them up in a food processor until they form a sticky mass. We often make this recipe, especially since in its basic version, it is much cheaper than the so called raw fruit snacks that you can find at health food stores.
For this blog post, I decided to dress our basic version up a bit. I have to admit that I was already thinking of holiday season here and the countless hours I spend making truffles every year. This is a really quick alternative. Mind you, it’s not the same as a rich chocolate ball, but if you cover these snacks in two kinds of chocolate and dust them with fancy dried fruit powder, they can make an awesome gift, too.
I made two versions: One is covered in my favourite couverture made by the Austrian company Zotter. They have a bar made with powdered soy milk that I love. It has a very unique taste and its sweetness and mouthfeel is comparable to milk chocolate. On top of that chocolate I put some aronia berry powder. For that I simply placed some dried aronia berries in a small coffee grinder and pulverised them. (Substitutes for the aronia berries: dried blueberries.)
Aronia berries are the German version of acai or whatever the newest superfood craze is called. You’ll find tons and tons of information on how healthy they are. Information that is given to you by the same companies that market those berries. I don’t think they are better than your average berry though. And even if, so what? Plant food is plant food and most of it is good for you. Ignoring all that superfood voodoo aronia berries are still an interesting ingredient, because, although native in Northern America, they grow here in Saxony. These almost black berries are very tart when fresh. And I just love tart berries. If you dry them though, there’s only a hint of their sour flavour left. They pair wonderful with the chocolate I chose for my dried fruit balls.
For the second version, I used a white chocolate coating and powdered, dried strawberries. White chocolate and strawberry is my favourite flavour combination! I made the strawberry powder myself during summer. And since strawberries are completely out of season right now, you can eather buy freeze-dried strawberries and pulverise them in a coffee grinder. Or you can make your own dried strawberries from frozen fruit.
For that you’ll need about 300 g frozen strawberries. Line two baking sheets with parchement paper and preheat the oven to 100°C. Cut the frozen strawberries (don’t thaw them) into 2 mm thick pieces and place them on the baking sheets. Bake them for 1 hour. You don’t want to close the oven door completely during this time, there should be a tiny gap left. For that tuck the handle of a wooden cooking spoon between door and oven. After one hour carefully turn the strawberry slices over and dry them for another hour. After this second hour you should turn them one more time and dry them for another hour. This time you can close the door. Let them cool completely before transferring them to airtight jars. Pulverise when needed.
Place hazelnuts in a food processor and grind into a powder.
Add raisins, coconut, chestnut spread, and strawberry powder.
Process until the raisins are chopped down and the mixture is sticky.
Divide the mixture into 19 small portions, 15 g each and roll into balls.
Melt the soy couverture in a double boiler.
Dip the half of the balls in chocolate.
Use a fork to remove the balls from the chocolate and transfer to a piece of parchment.
Sprinkle with aronia berry powder.
Combine white chocolate and cocoa butter and melt in a double boiler as well.
Dip the remaining balls in white chocolate, transfer to the parchment paper and sprinkle with strawberry powder.
Let cool completely.
Store at room temperature.
If you have melted leftover dipping chocolate, pour it into little ice cube moulds and store for another use.