Monday, March 16, 2015

Chesnut-Date Truffles for Pesach: A Saga

I was poking around my sister's Purim haul; 90% was the usual multi-colored processed sugar. But there was one neatly boxed offering clearly labeled "Raw Date Balls," along with a convenient ingredient list: "dates, almonds, and chocolate chips." 

I took a bite, and was hooked.
Now to find the recipe! Many called for—blah—shredded coconut, but I was able to come across a a number of helpful ones from My Halal Kitchen, Chocolate Covered Katie, Feed Your Temptations, and Skinny Taste

Since my family does not brok, the majority of our Pesach delicacies is sweetened air, which means an individual can consume an entire sponge cake in one sitting. I am always on the search for a more filling option that is kid-friendly, but they don't seem to be crazy about nut cakes. I don't blame them.

Oh Nuts! carries Kosher l'Pesach Medjool dates, and ground nuts are readily available. But I have one niggling problem: I don't have a food processor for Pesach. We barely use the year-round one as it is. Although, now that I think about it, I should use it for when I make cucumber salad. 

I had to work out the method. I searched a bit more, and found a recipe in which the dates are mashed, not pulverized, by Beauty Munsta. Medjool dates are so soft and moist that mashing them with a fork takes less labor than mashing Shabbos egg salad. 

A further benefit: With fork mashing, as opposed to food processing, I can make these on yontif! 

My difficulty, though, was trying to figure out the date-to-nut ratio. Different recipes provide different measurements. But after numerous comparisons, I decided on about 5 dates to around 1/4 to 1/3 cup of ground nuts. That and a splash of vanilla extract were presented to Luke for a taste test. 

He was excited at the idea of an energy ball during Pesach, but he found them too sweet (he also referred to them, quite maturely, as "poopie balls," for their hue). True, they are as sweet as cake batter. Chocolate Covered Katie calls hers "Cookie Dough Babies," after all. Medjool dates are insanely sweet, while containing fiber and nutrients. But they aren't exactly calorie-free; one medjool date consist of 66 calories and 16 grams of sugar. It takes five dates (along with healthy but fattening nuts) to make four balls, and that's nearly 500 calories. I don't think I can stop at one.

In order to cut the sweet, I could add cocoa (various recipes call from anywhere around 1 teaspoon to 2/3 cup), but why waste all that sweet if I'm paying for the calories anyway? I scrounged about some more, and I came across a comment to a date ball recipe which reported that the dates could be partially replaced with chestnuts.

100 grams of chestnuts vs. 100 grams of medjool dates: 75 calories less, half of the carbs, while also containing beneficial nutrients. Dates are straight sugar (66 grams); chestnuts would lower the sugar register (10 grams), creating satisfaction as opposed to a sugar addiction. When it comes to fiber, though, dates win: 7 grams, as opposed to 5 grams (not nothing!) in chestnuts.

I found a recipe for chestnut balls, and I planned to replace the honey with dates for the binding material. A number of brands carry Kosher l'Pesach chestnuts, such as Gefen and Seasons. Or buy whole and get them out of the shell any which way.

They were soon on my doorstep, and I began to experiment. Again, no food processor, so I mashed them with a fork. I used one bag's worth, 5.2 oz = 150 g = 21 chestnuts (I counted). I added the dates one by one to see how many are needed to bind the mixture, along with a few splashes of vanilla extract.

One of the recipes for the date balls calls for soaking the dates prior, in room temp water for an hour, in hot for a few minutes. I ended up soaking only one, but it really makes them easier to work with. 


I used a number of add-ins: chopped walnuts, cocoa, chocolate chips. The one ones to the right-ish were coated: ground walnuts, sprinkles, cocoa, and confectionery sugar. 

Now, don't hit me, but I don't exactly have a perfect, exact recipe. I wanted to experiment to the point of generality so that I don't use up my Kosher l'Pesach chestnuts prior to yontif.

Pesach Friendly Chestnut-Date Truffles 

(10 truffles) 

Approximately 20 chestnuts
Around four medjool dates 
Vanilla extract (optional)
dash of salt 

Optional add-ins: 
Chocolate chips 
Chopped nuts
And so on 

Optional toppings:
Ground nuts
Confectionery sugar
Melted chocolate 

1) Mash or grind chestnuts. I mashed them with a fork, but if one has a food processor, definitely use that. Shoot for a ground-like consistency. Another way, I also learned, is to put the chestnuts in a bag and wack 'em to smithereens with a blunt instrument.

2) Mash in dates. Soaking them prior would add some moisture and make them easier to work with. Go gently there, since I don't have exact quantities down pat. Maybe two soaked, two unsoaked? Ah, I don't know! After Pesach I'll have it worked out. 

3) See if the mixture is willing to be rolled into balls by pinching off a bit and seeing if it sticks together. At this point, chuck in any add-ins. If not, add another date. 

4) For cocoa, add desired quantity, 1 teaspoon and anywhere above. There's also cinnamon. Or some chopped nuts. Mayhap a handful of chocolate chips. 

5) Wet hands and roll mixture into balls. Wetting the hands prior to rolling makes a big difference. 

6) Since the color may not be very attractive, feel free to roll the truffles into ground nuts, cocoa, sprinkles, confectionery sugar, etc. 

7) Refrigerate to store. Can last a good while in there, from what I hear.

I divided up the batter and tried, separately, cocoa, chocolate chips, and ground nuts, and also a variety of different toppings.


Mr. Cohen said...

Since Princess Lea mentioned that her family does not eat gebruchts on Passover, I feel obligated to point out that:

The Torah was revealed at Mount Sinai 33 centuries ago, and the custom to not eat gebruchts on Passover was invented 3 centuries ago, which means that for 30 centuries gebruchts were eaten on Passover by ALL JEWS, including: all of the prophets of Tanach, all of the Rabbis of the Mishnah, all of the Rabbis of the Jerusalem Talmud, all of the Rabbis of the Babylonian Talmud, all of the Gaonim, and all of the Rishonim, including Rashi and all of the Baalei Tosefos.

PS: I am once again impressed by Princess Lea’s willingness and ability to cook.
I can’t understand why a girl who as so much value as a wife is not yet married.
If you are a SS/SK SJM, you should marry her ASAP, before someone else does!

Sarah said...

Thanks for sharing! I'm always on the lookout for easy and healthy desserts, and a kosher l'Pesach one that doesn't require tons of expensive ingredients is even better.

CCK's avocado creme brulee is also kosher l'Pesach, by the way. I'm planning to give it a shot.

Princess Lea said...

Mr. C: Oh, we all know that not-brocking is ridiculous. Not only that, the rules are all over the place: Matzah and milk okay, but in cakes with no water not, and we eat kneidlach on shvi'i shel Pesach.

But it's our family minhag. So we'll keep it for now.

PS: Thanks for the compliments, but in general I don't handle them well. Instead of being flattered, I get paranoid.

Sarah: Her alfredo sauce is also kosher l'Pesach! I was thinking of making it, as I saw kosher l'Pesach almond milk in my store. Fun recipes she has.

Princess Lea said...

Acharon shel Pesach.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Cohen- Your facts are well taken, but that's not how orthodox Judaism necessarily works. You know that of course.

Your points have some halakhic validity but mostly appeal to pathos.

Similarly to princess Lea, once hashem charged us with not just keeping, but also creating his torah, internal deductive consistency became an impossible idea. We are human beings and any system with the diffusion, robustness and dynamism that can keep a people intact for 2700 years across cultures, space and tragedy can hardly be expected to fit into hermetically fitting jigsaw pieces.

Anyways, not to say I don't feel gebrochts is silly, and that this feeling is not justified. Still, this isn't the meta halakhic analysis gebrochts deserves :p

Chag Kasher Vesameach

Anonymous said...

Oh yea forgot to add, that recipe looks really good.


Princess Lea said...

I don't think I wrote anything to the like claiming any expectation of "hermetically fitting jigsaw pieces," did I?

Anonymous said...

It's implied to a degree by your "the rules are all over the place" remark.

Reading back, I see the implication is not as strong (unlike your connection to the force apparently, ha. get it?) as I remember...Because I see your are specifically pointing out the inconsistent application of a single principle, rather than issues with intersecting halakhot.

So yes, I'm back pedaling a bit, but not completely.


Princess Lea said...

I was lightly mocking a single minhag from my background, not taking issue with all minhagim across all of time in all communities. Nowhere was the word "halacha" used. Big, BIG difference.

Kindly extrapolate with the information at hand, instead of inferring that which isn't there.

Anonymous said...

When did I intimate that you had issue with all minhagim over space and time?

The line between minhag and halakha can be very very fuzzy, so I would at the very least drop one of those "bigs".

"Kindly extrapolate with the information at hand, instead of inferring that which isn't there."

You are too kind madame.

Extrapolating by definition is utilizing the information presented. Still, I would characterize this as more an inference or induction rather than an extrapolation.

Anyways, I think I hit on a expectation of consistency and the line of disagreement rests on the degree of this expectation.

But Its good that you seem to take exception to a perceived affront towards your respect for Judaism.

Chag sameach!


Princess Lea said...

"But it's good that you seem to take exception to a perceived affront towards your respect for Judaism."

Oh, gee, thanks.

(If you needed clarification, that was sarcasm. I'm not exactly in need of the approval of faceless internet strangers.)

Anonymous said...

Ok sorry, I didn't mean to suggest otherwise. Was just being slightly facetious, though I also meant it.