Ugly, certainly, but that just means you won’t have to share…
I have a friend who is allergic to quite a few things, with nuts and eggs being at the top of the list. She’s always terribly apologetic about this and tells me not to cook for her (fat chance), which drives me nuts (tee hee!), because she’s also extremely awesome – intelligent, creative and kind, and clearly deserving of delicious food. And, actually, I don’t find nuts and eggs all that difficult to work around most of the time
Of course, it does become a trifle more challenging when I’m experimenting with raw foods, because raw food recipes have nuts in everything, replacing flour, biscuits, and even dairy. Which, actually, is fascinating, and it’s entirely possible that I just accidentally went online and ordered a whole book of raw food desserts, but that’s beside the point. Anyway, I’m not the world’s greatest nut fan (though there are those who would say I am more than a little bit nutty), but I am most definitely fond of things chocolatey, which brings me to a favourite new discovery of mine: cacao beans!
Cacao beans are basically proto-chocolate. They are the primeval fluid from which chocolate, bubbling, evolves. OK, this may not be entirely true. I’ve been cooking non-stop for the last 8 hours, and am possibly a little silly. But they certainly are the things which, after a certain amount of processing which I knew once but have temporarily forgotten, get turned into things like cocoa butter, cocoa powder, and of course CHOCOLATE.
Cacao beans also behave pretty much exactly like nuts for culinary purposes, with the useful exception being that they don’t give people like my friend anaphylaxis (which was never my favourite nutty property anyway).
You do see where I’m going with this, don’t you? The lovely Hannah over at Wayfaring Chocolate keeps creating all these lovely raw truffle / cookie recipes which are really irresistible in this weather. I looked at the ones made of dates and dried cherries and cashews and thought, I wonder what would happen if I used cacao beans instead of the cashews?
It turns out that what happens is I get very, very tired of shelling cacao beans, and then wish I’d shelled a lot more, because these little sweetmeats are amazing – dark and chocolatey and neither too sweet nor too bitter, with a definite cherry kick to them. You can’t taste the dates – they are basically acting as sweetener and glue – and you don’t really taste the Stealth Oats, hanging out in there, making you healthy when you aren’t looking. I can’t express how delicious these are, and I’d never had known this if my friend wasn’t allergic to nuts...
(And before I get on to the recipe, I feel I should reiterate that this really is Hannah’s recipe – I changed one ingredient, and increased the quantities slightly, but that really was all I did.)
Your Shopping List
75 g cacao beans, or 70g cacao nibs if you don’t want to spend fifteen minutes shelling beans
50 g rolled oats
100 g mejdool dates
100 g dried sour cherries