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Sunday, May 4, 2014

Chocolate Hazelnut Bites

I have so many things to say about these chocolate hazelnut bites, but I'm going to lead with the fact that they taste a lot like nutella and those Ferrero Rocher chocolates...but without ANY of the sugar or oil or artificial ingredients.  Nutella tastes like heaven in a jar, but when I look at the ingredients, I feel...sadness.  Here is the ingredient list on a jar of nutella:  Sugar, Palm Oil, Hazelnuts, Cocoa, Skim Milk, Reduced Minerals Whey (from Milk), Soy Lecithin (an Emulsifier), Vanillin (an Artificial Flavor).  The first ingredient is sugar and the second is palm oil.  Then comes the hazelnuts and cocoa.  I personally find the last ingredient to be the kicker.  They couldn't spring for some real vanilla??? They went with "vanillin" - the fake stuff.  Again...sadness.

So what spurred me to make this creation???  Jim and I have been trying to lay off most of the added sugar in our diets.  I know I always say everything in moderation including moderation - and I still believe that - but that's exactly why we need to pull back from sugar.  Sugar is in almost every processed food that we consume.  It's in our yogurts and our cereals, our granola bars, and it's most definitely in the piece of chocolate I like to eat every night with my cup of tea.  Even when I cook, I often add a little bit of sugar.  Even when I try to avoid processed sugar, I still find that I add honey or maple syrup...still sugar.  I have yet to make a sugar free recipe!  I am still 100% for eating a sweet treat - I just want to try and stop doing that every single day all day long - that is feeling a little bit less than the moderation I try to live by.

So I have been trying to come up with a replacement for the chocolate component of my nighttime tea and chocolate ritual.  There is only so much fruit I can take.  I eat it all day long.  By the time 8 o'clock rolls around, I just don't want any more fruit.  what I really want is CHOCOLATE.  So I have found my fix.  I served these to some friends last night and they all loved them, but I think the key is that you must freeze them.  I tried them after I first made them and I wasn't all that happy.  It just tasted like what it is and nothing more...dates, cocoa, hazlenuts and vanilla.  But after tasting them out of the freezer...holy awesome.

 Chocolate Hazelnut Bites
recipe from Running to the Kitchen
makes 16 balls

2/3 +1/4 cup raw hazelnuts
1 cup pitted and chopped Medjool dates
1/3 cup rolled oats
3 Tbsp cocoa powder
1-1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp salt

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and spread the hazelnuts over a parchment lined baking sheet.  Roast for 8 minutes.  After allowing them to cool for a few minutes, place them in a clean dish towel and attempt to remove most of their skins by rubbing the towel against a hard surface.  Then transfer to a food processor and process into fine crumbs.  Set aside 1/4 cup of the crumbs for rolling later.  Add the remaining ingredients and process for about two minutes.  The recipe I used said it would form a ball on the blade when it was ready after about two minutes, but that never happened for me.  I may not have used enough dates, but regardless, I was able to form balls out of the mixture anyway and it still tasted fantastic.  Form balls out of the mixture by the tablespoon and roll in the hazelnut crumbs that were set aside.  Place the finished balls on a single layer on a plate or baking sheet and freeze for at least 2 hours.  You can then place them in a freezer bag and enjoy one whenever the mood arises.

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