When I first started dating my boyfriend (in 2010), I had no idea what I was getting into. And by that I’m not referring to the fact that he is a night owl (and I am one of those incredibly annoying morning people that jump out of bed every day bubbling over with energy) or that he loves whistling along to any song playing on the radio and I despise whistling (which may be due to the fact that I can’t). No, I had no idea I was getting myself into a humongous – and huge just wouldn’t fit the description here – family. My boyfriend’s family is so big that you could easily start a marching band (and yes, almost all of them play instruments, too).
It’s not that I don’t like a big family, I am just not used to it whatsoever. My sister would now comment that I just don’t like people, period – but, well, that’s obviously untrue. My family (and by family I am including extended family) consists of the five of us and my Dad’s brother’s family, and, obviously, my grandparents. But that’s it. All in all, we amount to 13 people, leaving out extended cousins on my grandma’s side and people like that. With my boyfriend’s (extended) family, I am not even going to bother counting. Let’s just say that, whenever my boyfriend’s birthday comes around, I start waking up in the middle of the night, sweating anxiously, trying to figure out how I will ever fit them all into our tiny 65 sq.m. apartment and feed them at the same time.
Bringing me straight to the subject of today’s post: Family Birthdays. With a small family like mine, birthdays are special and rare, so whenever one comes around, and we actually bother celebrating it (we are all very busy people), it’s a big deal. With my boyfriend’s family, there is a birthday almost every week. In some months, there will be two birthdays a week, or even two on the same day! And, their (beautiful yet annoying) tradition is that everyone (even the furthest cousin or girlfriend) comes over without being invited. Apparently, it has always been like that. This is something I really have had to get used to. It’s not that I don’t enjoy these family gatherings, I just get overwhelmed by sitting with a bunch of people in a room every week or so for hours on end. Perhaps what my sister says is true?! Nevertheless, I have gotten better at it over the years. It helps that I now know the names of every member of his family, and I believe I am no longer just “the girlfriend”, but have been accepted into their realms. Besides, it is nice experiencing both ends of the “extreme”: with my small family and his large.
The reason I am telling you about all of this is because tonight, we are invited to my boyfriend’s cousin’s birthday party, and I had been wondering the entire week what I should get her. The thing is, she will celebrate again next week with all of her friends, which is when we will team up with some other people to get her a bigger present…but I hate showing up at someone’s door empty handed. So, last night, as I was falling asleep, I got the idea of making:
Healthy Vegan Almondballs
- 600g raw almonds
- 250g pitted dates
- 1l water
- vanilla extract, cinnamon and ground nutmeg, to taste
- 1 Tbs. pure raw cocoa
- 2 Tbs. shredded coconut
- 100g dark chocolate (85%)
1. Place the almonds in a blender and blend until you have a sticky flour. Small lumps of almondflour should be forming (this means that some of the oil in the almond flour has been set free, which is important for the consistency). Do not blend for too long, otherwise you will end up with almond butter.
2. Heat 1L water to the boil, and then add the dates. Boil with dates for about 10 minutes. This is important because you want the dates to become very soft and squishy.
3. After 10 minutes, sieve the dates out of the water (do not throw away the date-water!) and place the softened dates in a food processor. Process along with 6 tsp. of the date water, as well as some vanilla extract, cinnamon and ground nutmeg. You want to get a creamy consistency! If you feel that the consistency isn’t quite right, add more of the date water.
4. Once your date-cream is done (see picture above), add two heaped Tablespoons to a bowl, along with the lumpy almond flour. Mix together roughly with a spoon.
5. Then knead the almond-date-mixture with your hands, making sure a sticky mass is formed.
6. Now it’s time to roll the balls, using both your hands.
7. For the molten chocolate covering, place the amount of balls you want to cover in the freezer for at least 15 minutes. While you are waiting for those minutes to pass, you can cover the other balls by rolling them around in the cocoa and shredded coconut.
8. For the molten chocolate covering, melt the chocolate in a small pot that you have placed into a larger pot filled with water, making sure that no water enters the smaller pot. Once the chocolate has molten, roll around the frozen/cooled balls in the chocolate and place them on a spread out baking sheet. Since they are frozen, the chocolate will almost immediately harden, reducing the mess. In the picture, you can see that some of the chocolate has already hardened a few seconds after I took them out of the pot with the molten chocolate!
You could already serve and eat these as they are, but I decided to get a bit creative and cover them in different ways. I opted for raw cocoa, coconut, and molten chocolate coverings, but you can choose whatever you like! I am sure they would also taste great with molten white chocolate (if you aren’t lactose-intolerant), as well as vanilla-sugar or chopped dried fruit!
Once you are done with your different coverings, make sure to refrigerate these awesome healthy sugar- and oil-free almondballs! If you have any left over molten chocolate, you may want to try making Super-Easy-Chocolate-Raspberries!