Each year I make a request to my younger brother Rian, to make me a batch of his incredibly decadent chocolate truffles as my Christmas gift. This year, after I cracked the seal on another mason jar full of these mouth-watering little treats, I did a crazy thing... I asked him for the recipe. I quickly realized just how easy these bad boys were to make and this in fact became the worst and best thing that could have ever happened to me. These raw and vegan delights are way too scrumptious and highly addictive!
That being said, they have some pretty unbelievable health benefits to help balance it all out, and so I treat myself, and leave the guilt behind.
Your standard chocolate truffle usually consists of heavy cream or whipping cream, bittersweet chocolate, and whatever toppings one might decide to coat them in (crushed candy cane, sugar granules, etc.) That means they are full of animal fats, refined sugars and other funny things that we can all do without. This raw and vegan variety is made up of all plant based ingredients, which means it is much simpler to digest and contains many health benefits on top of the amazing flavor. Which if you ask me, knocks the "normal" version out of the ball park.
Instead of using bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, I am using cacao powder. Bittersweets, darks and milk chocolates all contain cacao powder, but are mostly filled with added sugar, milk ingredients, waxes, and so forth. So even when you are going out of your way to buy a dark chocolate bar, it still houses a lot of garbage that you may as well do without.
Pure cacao is one of the most delicious, versatile and beneficial super foods on the planet. It ranks exceptionally high on the ORAC scale. ORAC is a measurement of the antioxidant capacities of different foods. In 1 heaping tablespoon you get 11,000 on the ORAC scale. A blueberry, which is also known to be an antioxidant rich food, only ranks a 933 on the ORAC scale for the same serving size. That is a massive difference considering both are known to be a good choice for the same sort of benefit.
Antioxidants help to fight oxidants within the body that can produce free radicals. Free radicals can cause a chain reaction that can cause damage or death to a cell. Oxidative stress is known to be a big part of many human diseases, specifically cancer, and other degenerative diseases. Oxidants are a naturally occurring thing in the human body, unfortunately they are also found in high dosages in many medicines such as antibiotics, in pesticides, and in lots of “food” items such as preservatives, emulsifiers, colourants, artificial sweeteners and salts, as well as alcohol, cigarette smoke and caffeine (wah!). For this reason it is important to maintain a diet full of antioxidant rich food, and to minimize your intake of oxidant high products.
Incorporating cacao into your snacks and meals is a fantastic way of ensuring you consistently keep an antioxidant rich diet. This can easily be done by adding a tablespoon to smoothies, to oatmeal, used in sauces, baked goods or even some savory dishes. Or, you could just make a jar of these truffles and call it a day!
Raw Chocolate Truffles
1/2 cup of coconut oil
3/4 cup of agave (I use maple syrup, but that means they are no longer truly raw)
2 tsp of vanilla
1 cup of shredded unsweetened coconut
2 tbsp raw almond butter
1/4 tsp of sea salt
2 1/4 cups of cacao powder (I really like the Organic Traditions brand)
1/2 tsp of peppermint oil
8 bags of organic peppermint tea (cut open the bags and empty the dried tea into a small bowl, set aside - this does not get used in the actual truffle mix)
In a food processor (Vitamix, Kitchen Aid or otherwise), add the 1/2 teaspoon of peppermint oil. Follow it with all of the other ingredients, EXCEPT for the cacao powder. Blend until the ingredients are smooth and transfer into a mixing bowl. Next, begin folding in the cacao powder bit by bit until you develop a thicker consistency, much like the texture and feel of cookie dough.
Refrigerate the mixture for about 15 minutes. Remove from the refrigerator and roll into small balls. Dust the balls in the left over cocoa powder or the dried and loose peppermint tea. I alternate each topping for a nice aesthetic.
Once your truffles are formed and coated, place on a cookie sheet and refrigerate for an hour. If these do not get gobbled up immediately, store left overs in the fridge as they will go soft left out at room temperature.
You can easily manipulate this recipe in order to create different truffle flavors. For example, replace the peppermint oil with cinnamon extract, orange oil, or add in some chili oil if you dare! And change up the outer topping by adding different powders or toppings like ground cinnamon, shredded coconut or crushed walnuts.
Photos by Danielle Matar