Recipe: Raw Baklava Truffle Balls, and a trek along Melbourne’s South-Eastern coastline

truffles2It hurts to write this.  No, literally, it *really* hurts to write this, mostly because in a feat of macho stupidity, I walked more than 23 kilometers yesterday, and now even sitting at my computer hurts.  My whole body is complaining about *everything* just now…

I’ve mentioned before that my workplace is doing the Global Corporate Walking Challenge, in which teams of seven wear pedometers for four months, obsessively record every step or other bit of activity, and log this into a website which informs us just how far we’ve walked (we spent all of last week in virtual Yellowstone National Park.  The park itself is probably gorgeous and fascinating, but trust me, the virtual version is not an exciting place to spend a week). 

This week, we have been challenged to walk 100,000 steps each over seven days, so we decided to give ourselves a head start yesterday by walking from Cheltenham station to the coast, and then along the coast all the way back to St Kilda.  There’s a Coastal Art Trail that runs from Beaumaris Bay around to Eltham, with plaques and illustrated information boards showing the points at which local artists painted famous landscapes along the coast.  We figured that Eltham was all very well, but St Kilda has cake *and* trams to take us home again, and it’s only a few more kilometers…

Of course, any long walk deserves suitable energy snacks (which take priority in my packing over a spare pair of shoes – possibly not my best ever decision).  I decided to make not one but three kinds – a sort of rice bubble, sour cherry and almond butter slice of my own invention (OK, but nothing stunning), Amber Shea Crawley‘s lemon and coconut curd, formed into little balls of lemony evil (delicious, but they would *not* set), as well as her raw chocolate truffles, given a jaffa-ish tang with the addition of freeze-dried mandarins and tangerine oil.

But none of these were really enough, in my rather bizarre worldview in which five people seriously need four kinds of energy snacks for one day-long trek, so I had to make something else.  Something that wasn’t chocolatey or citrussy.  Then my eye fell on Amber Shea Crawley’s raw baklava slice recipe, and I was inspired!  Amber’s baklava slice is a very classic set of baklava flavours, and I love the idea of brushing it with agave nectar to simulate the honey syrup, but I wanted something that would roll into a ball and wouldn’t be unduly sticky. Also, I’m a Sydney Road girl, and I have Opinions about baklava.  My favourite kind is, I suspect, from the Turkish or Iranian end of the world, rather than the Greek, being full of cardamom and cinnamon, studded with cloves and drenched in a syrup infused with lemon juice, rosewater and honey.

Could this work in a raw truffle, without making it all too wet to stick together?  As it happens, it really can, and I’m extremely pleased with the way these little baklava balls turned out – they really do taste like the baklava I make, minus the filo pastry.  Healthy baklava!  And I’m finding I don’t even miss the pastry that much.

(Oh God, I shouldn’t have written that down, because now I am possessed by a craving for the baklava they make down at Zaatar… which I DO NOT need, since my house is still full of truffle balls of various flavours…)

Your shopping list

1 cup pistachios
1 cup almonds
1/2 cup walnuts
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cardamom
pinch of cloves
juice from 1 lemon (around 60 ml)
2 tsp rosewater
30 ml honey (use agave nectar if you can’t eat honey – it has a very honey-like flavour)
9 – 14 mejdool dates, but you may want a couple more or fewer, depending on your mixture
 

Now what will you do with it?

Put the nuts and spices into a food processor, and process until everything is well crumbled – you want it finely chopped, but not turned into nut meal.

Add the lemon juice, rosewater, honey, and 8 of the dates, and process until things start clumping together.  Add more dates, one or two at a time and processing between, until your mixture starts gathering into one or two big clumps and trying to climb out of the food processor (don’t worry, it can’t get you – that’s why you keep the lid on).

Remove the mixture from the food processor and roll into small balls.  Refrigerate until you are ready to eat them.  Yum.

truffles

Variations

These are vegan and gluten-free and pretty low-GI, but not low fructose and definitely not nut-free, nor can they be made so – if you take out either the nuts or the dates you have either date paste or soggy nut meal.  So don’t.

There are so many dozens of flavour variations you can try here that I don’t even know where to start.  Check out my Sweetmeats page, Hannah’s Raw Treats page, Kari’s No Bake Treats, or Amber’s desserts either on her website or in book form for further inspiration.

Did I mention I made way too many snacks for our journey?

Did I mention I made way too many snacks for our journey?

Our Amazing Journey!

And here, because I feel like showing off, are some of the photos I took on our walk yesterday.  It was really a fun day – five people from my walking group were able to come, and at lunchtime we were joined with a team-mate from last year, who is currently on maternity leave – she walked the last ten kilometers with us (pram and all), which was great.

Paving stone marking the start of the Coastal Art Trail near Cheltenham

Paving stone marking the start of the Coastal Art Trail at Mentone

Despite a promise of 'showers', we had beautiful weather as we started out...

Looking out over Beaumaris Bay

4 cheltenham

And looking back behind us, to the stretch of coast heading down to Frankston.

5 redbluff2

Looking towards the red cliffs at Beaumaris

Walking along the trail with two members of my walking group.

Walking along the trail with two members of my walking group.

Another plaque!

Another plaque!

8 redbluff

Red Bluff in the distance (painting by Charles Aloysius Wilson here)

There are also history, indigenous and environmental features along this path.

There are also history, indigenous and environmental features along this path.

Still in Beaumaris, with clouds beginning to gather.  They were promising showers all day, but the morning was pretty good...

Still in Beaumaris, with clouds beginning to gather. They were promising showers all day, but the morning was actually beautiful…

Black rock in the distance (painting by Walter Withers here)

Black rock in the distance (painting by Walter Withers here)

12 distantcity

Heading past Half Moon Bay towards Sandringham. We hope. Sandringham took a very long time to arrive.  There are some missing photos here, which I regret – we walked along by an old sea wall that was built with bluestone from the Old Melbourne Gaol – very picturesque, and like something out of Jane Austen’s Persuasion.  Sadly, I was too busy trying to keep up to take photos at this point!

14 team

Heading into Trey Bit Reserve in Sandringham, astonished by the sudden European green of the grass and feeling more than ready for lunch (lunch not yet ready for us, however).

16 westgate

Our first sight of the Westgate Bridge and the city in the distance as we pass Hampton. From here, we will be playing peekaboo with the city skyline all the way to St Kilda.

Approaching Brighton and the famous bathing boxes, with the city in the distance.  This photo looks more like a painting than a photograph because the sky was getting pretty dark by this point, and I had to do a lot of adjusting of contrast and exposure to make anything visible at all.

Approaching Brighton and the iconic bathing boxes, with the city in the distance. This photo looks more like a painting than a photograph because the sky was getting pretty dark by this point, and I had to do a lot of adjusting of contrast and exposure to make anything visible at all.

Elwood beach

Elwood beach

From the latter part of Brighton to St Kilda, there's a sort of path-cum-boardwalk that runs right by the sea - the waves were getting pretty rough, and we got thwacked by them as they bounced off the sea wall a few times.

From the latter part of Brighton to St Kilda, there’s a sort of path-cum-boardwalk that runs right by the sea – the waves were getting pretty rough, and we got thwacked by them as they bounced off the sea wall a few times.  And no, it wasn’t quite that dark.  But it was fairly dramatic – by this point, while we weren’t being rained on, we could see dark clouds and rain in nearly every direction.

21 dark3

More of the boardwalk.

This really is how threatening and choppy everything looked.

This really is how threatening and choppy everything looked.

Getting close to St Kilda, the winds were getting stronger, the sky darker, the waves choppier, and a bride was trying to keep her veil under control for photography purposes... it was about five minutes after this that the rain started...

Getting close to St Kilda, the winds were getting stronger, the sky darker, the waves choppier, and a bride was trying to keep her veil under control for photography purposes. It was about five minutes after this that the rain started…

St Kilda at last!  And we had only been rained on a little bit!  We limped our way to Acland St for restorative cake, and wondered just how we were going to get home...

St Kilda at last! And we had only been rained on a little bit! We limped our way to Acland St for restorative cake, and wondered just how we were going to get home…

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

One year ago: Recipe: Chocolate Crackles for Grownups
Two years ago: Proof of concept?
Print Friendly

8 responses to “Recipe: Raw Baklava Truffle Balls, and a trek along Melbourne’s South-Eastern coastline

  1. This looks like a gorgeous walk! Hopefully it was slightly worth the pain today? 😉 These also look like gorgeous truffle balls – and you would have earned more than a few after your exertions!

    • Definitely worth it, if only because we’ve overtaken the team with the triathlete on it again (we are determined to beat that team, because we don’t think one very athletic person should be able to carry the team to victory within the Institute when most of the rest of them are doing far less than we are!). And yes, it was a beautiful walk, and one I will do again sometime when I have better shoes. Or possibly just in two installments…

      • Funny thing, actually – literally the only high FODMAP fruit that I like is apple. All the rest (yes, even mangoes :P) always tasted terrible to me. Finding out about FODMAPs was a moment of great vindication for my “fussy eating”.

        The vegetable side of thing was more of a blow to me, though these days I can have most things in moderation so it’s not too much of a pain.

        I’m planning on making these this weekend, so I’ll let you know how it goes. My gluten-intolerant, baklava-loving partner thanks you from the bottom of his heart. 🙂

        • I think the vegetable thing would definitely be worse, yes. As I said, I really do like fruit, but I wouldn’t eat it all day long – but I do love lots of vegetables at every meal, with the possible exception of breakfast…

          Good luck with the baklava balls – I hope you and your partner enjoy them!

  2. Oh wow, gluten free baklava! You’ve completely made my day, I’ve missed baklava a lot. Definitely not low FODMAP, but I reckon I could eat a couple without consequences…

    • I hope you enjoy it! The flavour is surprisingly true (though a little less buttery, of course).

      I must admit, low FODMAP is something I rarely even attempt unless I am actually cooking for someone who requires it – I love my fruit way too much… it must be *very* annoying to live with.

  3. oh that sounds crazy but if you are going to walk that far a coastal walk sounds great. I tried a pedometer challenge but after losing the pedometer the second time I gave up – sigh! Love all the pics and love that you had to load up with these snacks – I would too

    • It was definitely crazy, but worthwhile! Yes, we’ve had a few lost / broken pedometers. They actually start us off with two, the better not to run out of the things!

Leave a Reply