This morning, The Poppet asked if she could have one of these date, peanut butter & chocolate bonbons after breakfast.
“Of course!’ I said. “They’re healthy!”
The Author looked at us and said to The Poppet, in all seriousness, “Do you know how lucky you are to have a mother who believes that chocolate is a health food?”
And he’s right, I do.
I suppose it comes as no surprise, given my upbringing, that I can see the health benefits to almost any food, and chocolate is certainly no exception. To make things even better, I’ve just learned that chocolate contains theobromine, a substance which reduces blood pressure, helps fight cavities (!), and has even been patented for cancer prevention. Take that, kale.
(Of course, chocolate contains cane sugar, which is portrayed as a villain lately, but I disagree that it’s all bad – well, of course I would. I do agree that too much sugar is not good for a balanced diet, but I’m not sure that the so-called natural sugars are better than cane sugar. For one thing, alternative sugars like agave syrup are highly processed, and they have a higher fructose level than even the much-maligned high fructose corn syrup. In addition, cane sugar is one sugar that is always GMO-free. So I’m happy with chocolate and everything it brings to the table. All in moderation.)
So let’s talk about the dates, which are pretty good for you, as it turns out. They have lots of sugar (80%, in fact), but they also contain protein, fibre, and trace minerals. The only downside I can see about dates is that they are sticky, and that means they can cause cavities more easily than, say, cane sugar which quickly passes by the teeth. (But maybe the chocolate can help with that problem?!)
And that brings us to the peanut butter, packed with protein, essential fats, and minerals for growing bodies. As long as you buy (or make) peanut butter that has only peanuts and maybe a pinch of salt as its ingredients, you can’t pick a better snack for a kid (or even an adult).
So forget the cereal. The next time you have breakfast, maybe you should skip the usual and head straight for the bonbons. What a healthy and glorious way to start the day!
Date, Peanut & Chocolate Bonbons
This past week we made two different kinds of date bonbons at work, and both were enthusiastically received. The first, made with balls of marzipan and almonds, will be coming soon to a blog near you (I mean this one, of course!) But you can get a glimpse of them on my Instagram page, here.
These chocolate-covered dates, to me, look even more sophisticated, and yet they are the easier of the two to make. They require no special skills, or equipment, or even very much patience; they do require some time to set, but that can be hastened by popping them in the fridge.
My co-worker Liz was the one who came up with this idea. She said it was based on something she found in the cookbook Deliciously Ella, but it was Liz’s genius that introduced the chocolate.
These don’t require much of a recipe, but for form’s sake, I’ll give it a go! Still, the quantities below are really just a guideline; if your dates are quite small, you won’t need as much peanut butter or chocolate. If they are quite large, you will need more. (You could also swap out the peanut butter for almond butter, which would be delicious.)
- 20 pitted dates
- 100g chunky peanut butter (natural, without added oil or sugar)
- 150g dark chocolate (chips or a bar of good quality chocolate)
Line a tray or baking sheet with non-stick parchment. This will be where you cool your bonbons, so if you are the impatient type, you might want to make sure it is small enough to fit into your fridge.
Gently pry open each date and, using a small butter knife or a teaspoon, put 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of peanut butter inside the date. You want enough peanut butter to plump up the date, but not so much that the date won’t close around it.
Melt the chocolate in a deep heat-proof bowl over (not in) simmering water. Stir the chocolate when the edges have started to melt, and then stir occasionally until it is all liquid. Turn off the heat, and leave the bowl resting on the pan as you continue with the next step.
Pop a stuffed date into the chocolate, and using two forks, roll the date gently in the chocolate until it is thoroughly coated. Lift the date out of the chocolate, using the forks as tongs, and let the excess chocolate drip off. Then place the date on the parchment-line tray. Continue until all the dates are covered. (Any leftover chocolate can be scraped out of the bowl – be sure to wipe any condensation off the sides first – and left to set on the parchment. It can then be eaten as is, or put aside for another cooking project. Just remember that it will be contaminated with peanuts.)
The dates can now be put into the fridge to harden, or left in a cool spot. When they are set, store them in an airtight container and try your hardest to forget about them till breakfast time.