Tasty RV Eats -> Decadent Chocolate LÄRAballs
I was first introduced to LÄRAballs by our RV buddies Lu & Terry two years ago. They surprised us with these chocolate treats as a present and we were instantly hooked. Chocolaty, nutty, melt-in-your-mouth decadent -> these things feel like they should be really, really bad for you yet they’re made from healthy, simple, clean ingredients that are just sugary enough to satisfy your sweet tooth without sending your waistline into purgatory. Plus they are SO EASY to make! Since that time I’ve made them regularly for RV dinners with friends, as presents and as a treat for ourselves. Also since they are vegan, dairy-free, soy-free and gluten-free they have the added bonus of satisfying just about every dietary limitation out there (except for nut allergies!)
LÄRAballs are based on LÄRABAR®, the very popular (and rather expensive) bars that you find in upscale food stores. They are basically just fruit & nut bars typically almonds or walnuts with dates. To this very simple base you can add ALL kinds of combos of “extra” stuff such as chocolate, coconut, lime, chili, peanut butter, banana etc. This makes for literally hundreds of taste combos, if your let your imagination run wild. Many folks will cut the final mix into bar-shaped pieces to look like the commercial product, but when we got our treat from Lu she’d rolled them into balls which I really liked. This way they’re almost like truffles, just healthier, and you can pop one or two after dinner for desert without going too crazy.
The other thing about LÄRAballs, at least the way I make them, is that they’re not overly sweet. Most of the recipes you find online (like THESE) will use less nuts and many more dates than I do. But I’m more about getting an authentic, rich dark chocolate taste with just enough sweet to make it enticing. So, if you’re like me, you’ll enjoy the way I make them. On the other hand, if you have a heavy sweet tooth you’ll probably want to up the date to nut proportions. The recipe below is my “base” and the most basic one I make. I’ll typically add stuff to it (berries, lime, chili, rum, shredded coconut etc.) as the whim takes me.
Decadent Chocolate LÄRAballs
Total prep time ~20 mins
~3-4 cups of nuts (either almonds or walnuts or cashews or a mix!)
~10-12 Medjol dates (pitted)
1-2 tablespoons coconut oil
4 heaped tablespoons quality cocoa powder**
1 tsp vanilla extract
**I’m particular about my cocoa powder and try to use a quality powder that has not been alkali-treated. Alkali treatment of cocoa reduces the flavanols and antioxidant properties, which are what make it healthful. We’ve been very impressed with the Healthworks brand of cacao from Amazon.
The only piece of equipment needed here is a food processor. We’ve used the same food processor for years which is this very basic, very powerful Cuisinart DLC-2009CHB 9-cup. The size is big enough to manage just about anything we need, plus it chops super-fast and (in the years we’ve owned it) the blade has never dulled. It’s one of our favorite kitchen items, so much so that it made our top 5 list earlier this year. We carry it in our bedroom cupboard and use it while hooked up or boondocking.
1/ Add nuts to food processor and pulse until finely chopped.
2/ Add remainder of ingredients and mix. Depending on how dry the ingredients are you’ll need to add ~1/4 cup or more of water to get the mix to come together. Use a spatula to spread out the mix & re-pulse/re-mix it a few times, so that all ingredients get well dispersed. The mix is ready when it “clumps” together in a big, sticky ball inside the food processor.
3/ Roll into bite-size balls and refrigerate for at least an hour. Serve and enjoy!!