We all have certain foods that are wrapped in memory; all it takes is one bite, and we’re whisked back in time to the moment we first tasted it. The experience, told to others over time, can expand to mythic proportions. And I swear, like many before have sworn with their own personal memories, that my first time trying a bliss ball was nothing less than a dream of dreams.
I had just gotten hired at a raw and vegan cafe. I had been vegan for five years and had a fairly good understanding of vegan cooking, but I knew very little about raw cuisine. Despite my unfamiliarity, I jumped headfirst into learning everything I could. My mentor not only taught me how to make foods like gourmet raw pizza, raw hummus, and raw pies, but he also introduced me to the simpler things like how to open a Thai young coconut (I swear, it’s not that hard!) and how to make amazing dressings out of just a few fruit and vegetable ingredients. One of the best lessons I learned at that cafe was that raw foods can be as complex as you’d like, but the simple preparations could be every bit as delicious as the more nuanced ones.
On one of my first days there, I was unpacking the morning delivery from our sister cafe, and I began stocking the case with a stack of plastic clamshell containers, each holding 6 chocolatey orbs rolled in coconut flakes. “Raw Chocolate Bliss Balls” was scribbled on the label. The chef insisted I try one. It tasted like a cross between a fudgy, dense brownie and the creamy rich ganache inside a truffle. All I could think was, “Wow, this really is bliss!”
Soon I learned how to make them, and I was intrigued by the simplicity of the ingredients. It’s virtually impossible to mess up. The base of a bliss ball is dried fruit + nuts or seeds. Dates are the preferred fruit of choice, but I’ve made them with other dried fruits like raisins or mulberries. With nuts or seeds, choose one (or more) with a taste that best complements your desired outcome. Cashews and sunflower seeds will be more neutral than nuts like pecans, walnuts, or pistachios.
Once you have the base, the fun part comes in. Add in any spices or other flavors that you’d like. Some of my favorites – not together! – are cacao powder, pie spice, maca, peanut butter, lucuma, vanilla, rose water and protein powder. You can also choose something to roll the bliss balls in such as coconut flakes, cacao nibs, hemp seeds, freeze-dried fruit, or crushed almonds to make them more eye-catching.
I love stashing a few batches of bliss balls in my freezer to grab on the go or to swiftly satiate a dessert craving. I also make them for events, parties, and gatherings, and they are always a hit. These are the perfect bite for people who love to indulge in sweets but also want to feel good afterward, and they’re filling and nutritious enough that you’ll only need 1 or 2 to feel satisfied!
Berry-Studded Chocolate Bliss Balls
makes 15-20 bliss balls
- 1 cup raw cashews
- 15 medjool dates (approx. 1 ½ cups), pitted
- 1 ½ tablespoons cocoa or cacao powder
- 1-2 tablespoons coconut nectar or liquid sweetener of choice
- ¼ tsp vanilla powder, opt.
- pinch of salt
- 1 bag of freeze-dried berries of choice
In a food processor, pulse the cashews until they form a coarse meal.
Add in the dates and process to incorporate with the cashews.
Add in the rest of the ingredients, and process until the mixture sticks together when you press it between your fingers. If it needs more moisture, add more liquid sweetener.
Roll tablespoon-sized amounts of the dough into balls and set them on a plate.
Crush the berries either with your hands or in a spice grinder. Put the berries into a small bowl and roll the bliss balls in the bowl one at a time to coat them. Roll lightly in your hands once more to help the berries adhere to the bliss ball.
Serve immediately, or store in a sealed container in the fridge or freezer for the perfect bite-sized treat!