You know Ramadan is around the corner when you walk into a supermarket and see dates on promotion everywhere… that and when that same Yusuf Taiyoob ad that has been playing for the last 10 years comes on (Malaysians will know). Dates are a staple to Ramadan and have been traditionally eaten at iftar to break fast since the time of the Prophet Muhammad. In conjunction with Ramadan, I’ve created a recipe for these nifty energy boosting balls in 3 flavours – chocolate, almond + peanut butter / cashew, coconut, orange + tahini / black sesame + raspberry.
While some people are quick to judge dates because of their high sugar content, it’s important to remember that like other fruits, dates have other properties that make them immensely beneficial to the body. Dates are rich in vitamins and minerals such as a variety of vitamin Bs, potassium and magnesium meaning it can reduce blood pressure and strengthen your heart health, amongst other benefits. They are eaten at Ramadan because the natural sugars and fibre help sustain energy levels without the crash artificially sugary treats would give you, but make sure you buy ones with the seeds as they not as preserved as the deseeded ones.
While Medjool dates have become a wildly popular alternative for those avoiding refined sugar, there are other varieties of dates with different tastes and textures that are equally as good or even better, especially in Asia. Medjool dates are favoured for their high levels of sweetness and juiciness, however these Majeeda Mozafati dates I found from Jusco for a fraction of the price are just as plump and juicy (and sweet!) – the flesh literally melts off the seed. See what other options there are instead of going straight for Medjools, just look out for ones with high water content if you want them to be juicy.
Even on their own the date balls are good to go, but I’ve added toppings to each for extra flavour and texture. I’ve not added any sweeteners to the dark chocolate and tahini coatings because I like how the bitterness balances out the sweetness of the date balls. Obviously considering the Malaysian climate, the coatings might hinder their portability but without, they make a great fuss free snack – think Naked bar but as a ball. For the chocolate ball I used my own home-made peanut butter but any natural nut butter will do.
I was also lucky enough to also have freeze dried raspberries that my dad bought for me to experiment with and they gave a vibrant, tangy contrast to the dark earthiness of the black sesame ball. Of course if you don’t have freeze dried raspberries there are tons of other ingredients you can play around with – different crushed nuts, goji berries and other freeze-dried fruits (I’ve seen a lot of supermarkets selling them now), cocoa powder and desiccated coconut just to name a few.
As I was making 3 different flavours I made less of each kind, so double up on a single recipe to make more of one flavour – the beauty of these recipes are that they’re very forgiving on measurements. I generally use a 1:1 nut to date ratio (apart from the black sesame one) but you can adjust according to your taste preferences – more dates if you want sweeter and softer or more nuts if you want something more firm and compact.
I hope you enjoy these energy date balls and if you give them a go, please share as I’d love to see! And for those observing this holy month, Ramadan Kareem! xxx