Valentines Day is big in Japan, and like most imported customs it has a unique Japanese twist. On February 14th, females give chocolate to males, which is reciprocated one month later on March 14th, or White Day, when supposedly it’s the girls turn (never seems as big as Valentines though…).
There is giri-choco, or ‘duty-chocolate’, that you are obliged to give your male boss and colleagues. For your romantic partner, however, you give honmei-choco, ‘true feeling chocolate’, which increasingly tend to be handmade. The shops are full of chocolate making equipment and packaging.
Recently it has become common for relatives or friends to give each other chocolates so last year my children got several little boxes of chocolates from their cousins.
For Anna’s Kitchen I decided to teach my easy healthy and sugar free ‘truffle’ recipe. We had 8 children as well as several adults so it was a lively and fun session except that my blender ended up smoking so bad it stopped working….. For a recipe that depends on this bit of equipment it was pretty disastrous. We ended up chopping the ingredients by hand, the texture was a bit courser than usual but they held together and still tasted great. And I don’t think many of the truffles made it home to be given to friends or relatives.
The basic recipe uses equal parts of dried fruit and nuts and seeds, which are processed to form a mass that can be rolled into balls (great for kids snacks). Adding cocoa powder and coconut oil gives them a richer texture and flavour.
Varying the nuts and fruit can give different tastes and textures. Cashews and macadamia nuts are creamy, cranberries add tartness, dates are dense and sweet while prunes are dark and moist, then spices can add a different flavour element.
To make the balls:
- 1 cup nuts and seeds
- 1 cup dried fruit
- ¼ tsp vanilla or spice (ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg)
- pinch salt (Himalayan pink salt)
- 1 tbs coconut oil (or tahini/nut butter)
- 1-2 tbs unsweetened cocoa powder
To coat the balls:
- Cocoa powder
- Shredded coconut
- Sesame seeds
- Ground almonds
- If the coconut oil is solid, gently melt in a pan or place the jar in warm water
- Put all the ingredients in a food processor and pulse until the mixture comes together in a ball. Add a splash of water or extra oil if too dry
- You may need to roughly chop any large pieces of dried fruit or nuts first if you have a mini food processor like I do (I skipped this and shouldn’t have)
- Take a spoonful of mixture and roll into a ball in your hands
- Roll in the coating of your choice
- You may need to put in the fridge to harden in summer
- You can also coat in chocolate if you like