‘HEALTHY’ RAW CHOCOLATE BALLS

Easter is fast approaching and if you don’t have time (who does?) to make the obligatory hot cross buns, some raw chocolate salted apricot caramels might hit the spot instead. As per, my healthy treats inspo comes directly from the pages of my well-thumbed copy of Hemsley & Hemley’s, The Art of Eating Well. I’ve tried these a few times and can report that they are a) easy to make and b) really rather good , in fact, even non-health obsessives will enjoy them. Honest.

They’re also perfect to give as gifts in jars with a bit of fancy tissue or an arty washi tape label – who needs Booja Booja? One thing I must mention is that I tampered with the original H&H recipe slightly (sorry ladies!) and replaced the cocoa butter with organic coconut oil in the raw chocolate recipe as it’s way easier to source and I like the taste. If, however, you’re coconut averse make the effort to source the real cocoa butter (try the The Raw Chocolate Company) and then use organic butter in place of the oil in the caramel filling. Also, because they’re raw with a high (good) fat content, you’ll need to store them in the fridge until you’ve eaten them all, which possibly won’t be long…

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For the apricot caramel filling:
(makes 40-50 caramels)

250g organic unsulphured apricots (ie not the bright orange ones)
1 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
80g organic butter or coconut oil
2 tbsp hot water
1 tsp vanilla extract or paste

For the homemade raw chocolate:
(makes 200g)

200g cacao butter or coconut oil
12 tbsp raw cacao powder (NB. not cocoa powder)
3 tbsp maple syrup
2 tsp vanilla extract

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1. Finely chop the apricots before adding to a food processor with the salt, butter or coconut oil, vanilla and hot water. Blitz for a few times then blend until the mixture comes together into a sticky paste. It may take a while…especially if you’re working with a 2008 Kenwood hand blender, like me.

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2. Use two teaspoons to scoop out enough mixture to make a small truffle sized ball, then roll between your palms to shape your caramel. It’s a good idea to run a bowl full of warm soapy water before you start because it can get messy. Place each caramel onto a tray or tin lined with greaseproof paper and put into the freezer to chill and harden for about 20 minutes while you make the chocolate. Yes, they do look like meatballs but trust me, they taste SO much better.

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3. To make the raw chocolate, gently melt the cocao butter or coconut oil in a bowl over a pan of simmering water. Make sure the bowl isn’t touching the water and go slowly, you want to retain as much of the nutritional benefits as possible which are destroyed by high temperatures. Once it’s all melted, carefully mix in the cacao powder, maple syrup and vanilla extract and stir until smooth. At this stage you can also cheat and just melt down a bar of pre-bought dark chocolate, but use the same slow melt method to avoid it separating.

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4. Remove caramels from the fridge and roll between you palms again to smooth and reshape (the part I forgot to do!). Then again using two teaspoons, dip each one into the chocolate to coat. Place them back on the cold tray where they should set quite quickly. If you have enough chocolate you can double dip once the first layer has set.

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5. Once the chocolate coating has hardened, you can neaten them up by carefully slicing away the excess with a sharp knife.

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6. Then place back in the fridge or pop into a clean glass jar until you’re ready to eat them. I give you 5 minutes.

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Photography: Bella Binns

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