The purpose of these bites was to satisfy my craving for dates and nuts. Although I had used all these ingredients before, what I didn't expect was their combined taste which instantly reminded me of a childhood favourite - nougat (halvita in my language). That nougat had peanuts and was sandwiched between two thin wafers.
Everyone who tasted these sweets confirmed they tasted like nougat. I enjoyed them so much that I was eating straight from the bowl. I only took the time to make them in different shapes in order to surprise two special little ladies and of course to have something to photograph, otherwise I wouldn't have had the patience. They're incredibly delicious...and addictive!
Crunchy Sticky Bites
Makes 50 small bites
- 1 cup pitted Deglet Noor dates (about 25) - makes 1/2 cup date paste
- 1 tsp pure coconut oil (softened, not melted)
- 1 rounded Tb unsweetened smooth peanut butter
- 1/4 cup roughly chopped toasted walnuts (chop, then measure)
- 1/4 cup roughly chopped toasted pecans (as above)
- 3/4 cup unsweetened desiccated coconut
Chop the dates and blend to form a smooth paste. Transfer to a bowl, add coconut oil, peanut butter and mix until just combined. Add the nuts and coconut and mix until just combined (very important not to overmix). With your fingertips form small balls or other shapes, or make one large ball, flatten it between your palms, roll it between a folded sheet of greaseproof paper and cut into various shapes with a knife or cookie/vegetable cutters.
- Important! If making them with your fingertips, use the least amount of effort when pressing them into shape, otherwise their surface becomes oily, and oil is not the first thing you want to hit your taste buds.
- Dates: Check your labels and try to buy pure dates, no added glucose (can be from wheat!), glycerol or other unnecessary stuff. Feel free to experiment with other kinds of dates; I was so happy with the taste of these bites that I didn't want to change anything the second time I made them. If all the dates are very soft, you will need to add more desiccated coconut, if very dry, soak them in warm water for a few minutes. My dates were a mix of both. If you haven't made date paste before, just know that you don't need a super blender or food processor to do that. I successfully use a 300W mini food processor from a hand blender set. It does take a little patience to spread the mixture in the processor every time it forms a ball and to scrape down the sides until the paste is formed, but it's easily doable.
- Peanut Butter: Use a good quality peanut butter that's unsweetened - there's plenty of natural sweetness from dates. The brand I used was not perfectly smooth, but those tiny bits of peanut actually seemed to melt in the mouth.
- Nuts: For the best taste and texture use freshly toasted nuts. To toast them, I just spread them on a baking tray and put it in the oven at 250°F (130°C) for about 10 minutes, then lower the temperature to 210°F (100°C) for another 10-15 minutes until there is a nice smell coming out and the skin comes off the walnuts easily. Don't let them burn! Soon after they come out of the oven I remove their skins (walnuts only) and let them cool completely before chopping.
The mixture seems crumbly because of the nuts, but it sticks together with the smallest effort. To really get that taste of nougat eat straight from the bowl:)
Small as they are, these bites are calorie-dense and filling, so if you make them for kids a couple of them are more than enough. And if you're anything like me, you'll end up doing some taste-testing on a dozen of them;)
Just a piece of advice, whenever you eat something with dried fruit and/or nut butter brush your teeth immediately or soon after, because they stick to the teeth and can cause problems.
The second time I made this recipe I formed larger balls. Although I loved the extra crunch, I still preferred the tiny bites.
I couldn't say exactly how long they keep, as I had only a few of them left the following day.
Enjoy and spread the magic!:)
If you've tried these sweets I would greatly appreciate your feedback. Thank you!