I love the holidays. Not the sometimes insane hustle and bustle or the manufactured gifts of obligation, but the decorations, the time together with good friends and family, and the very thoughtful gifts that come wrapped in love. I’ve been pondering what to make as gifts for a few months now, only because I want to give something really special, and something that’s healthier too without being overt about it.
A month ago, my mother-in-law gave me two of her old Jewish cookbooks. They have her handwriting in them and some recipes clipped from newspapers. Joe is Jewish and I was raised Catholic so I know nothing about Jewish cooking. I have, though, been reading the cookbooks and am amazed at how healthy so many of their holiday recipes are. Instead of being laden with sugar and flour, they often use dates, prunes, or honey as a sweetener and bake gluten-free with nut flours and potato flour or starch. I was thrilled. Joe just grinned and said, “Yeah, of course.”
I’ve adapted a recipe from The Community Cook Book, which is a compilation of recipes from the Congregation of B’Nai Israel in Rhode Island published in 1947. The original recipe was called Fruit Candy, and I’ve tweaked it to my liking, added nuts, and decided that they should be called truffles for the holidays. Best of all, it’s naturally gluten-free and refined sugar-free.
They’re so good – and good for you, especially when compared to the chocolate truffles. Raisins, figs, and raw almonds are even considered to be among some of the most nutrient dense foods by The World’s Healthiest Foods. This would also be a fun recipe to get kids involved with – they could help roll the truffles and coat them in cocoa powder or coconut.
I got the gift boxes from Michael’s with one of their 40% off coupons, so they ended up being about 50 cents each. It came with the pre-cut tissue paper, which really looks nice.
A note about the cocoa powder – I tried both dutch processed cocoa powder and regular cocoa powder and found that the dutch processed cocoa powder was too bitter for my liking.
Today is Holiday Food Fest! Make sure to head over to Cents to Get Debt Free and link your Edible Gift or just leave a comment. Either way, you’ll be entered to win a PrecisionPro Digital Kitchen Scale in addition to getting lots of great ideas for holiday gifts.
Update 11/19/10: I’m honored to be one of 24 food bloggers included in LexioPhiles 2010 International Recipe Advent Calendar.
Update: This post is Linked to The Bloggy Progressive Dinner hosted by Amy at The Finer Things in Life.
- 1 cup raw almonds
- 1 cup medjool dates, pitted and roughly chopped
- 1 cup organic raisins
- ½ cup dried black mission figs, stemmed and roughly chopped
- 2 – 4 tablespoons shredded coconut
- 2 – 4 tablespoons cocoa powder (not dutch processed)
- Place almonds in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Process for 2 – 3 minutes until the almonds are finely chopped but no so small that it’s similar to almond meal. You want to retain some texture. Add dates, sultans, and figs. Process again for 3 – 5 minutes until the mixture sticks together all by itself. It will clump similar to the way a dough clumps when it comes together.
- Use a spring release cookie scoop for larger sized truffles or the large end of a melon baller for smaller truffles. This will help you to achieve uniform sized balls. Roll the ‘dough’ between your hands to form a ball. Set the truffles on a plate or tray until you’ve finished all of the balls.
- If your coconut isn’t finely shredded, you can put it in a spice grinder. It coats best when it’s finely ground. Put the coconut on one plate and the cocoa powder on another. Coat the balls by rolling in either the coconut flakes or the cocoa powder. When rolling in cocoa powder, it’s okay to have a really good layer on the outside because the moistness of the truffle soaks it up a bit. You can place larger truffles in mini-cupcake papers or just pile them all in a tissue lined gift box.