With so many brightly coloured, sugary sweets out there for Easter, here’s a real-food option if you’d prefer your kids have treats made out of whole foods. These wee nests and egg-shaped chocolate truffles are made with naturally sweet dates, blended in the food processor with toasted nuts to make a thick, slightly sticky mixture that can be formed into any number of shapes. Roll them into balls, then into cocoa and serve in wee paper cups for adorable truffles you can make in just a few minutes – kids love helping out with these too.
I have memories of the bricks of dried-out dates my mom used to buy to bake with as a kid, and these plump, juicy, sticky Medjool dates don’t resemble them in the slightest. They’re found in the produce section – not among the raisins in the baking department – and they still contain their pits, which along with a well-sealed container keeps them from drying out.
Medjool dates are naturally very sweet, with a caramelly flavour – pull the pits out (easy!) and they’re perfect for snacking, but also for stuffing with cheese and wrapping in prosciutto, or for baking with (sticky toffee chocolaet chunk cookies!), or for simply blending with toasted nuts to make a mixture that’s perfect for no-bake grain-free energy bars, or for shaping into truffles, Easter eggs, or nests for a healthier nibble this Easter weekend.
Flavour the mixture with a pinch of cinnamon, spoonful of cocoa, squeeze of lime and handful of coconut – anything goes! And when Easter is over, you can press the mixture into a pan, then cut it into bars for simple snacks that can be individually wrapped to tuck into lunchboxes and gym bags.
Easy (Grain-free!) Date-Nut Easter Eggs
1 1/2 cups pitted Medjool dates (about 15 dates)
1 1/2 cups toasted whole almonds and pecan halves (any ratio – or try toasted hazelnuts or cashews)
1/3 cup shredded coconut and a bit of grated lime zest and the juice of half a lime
2 Tbsp. cocoa
1/2 cup dried cherries or blueberries and a drop of vanilla
In the bowl of a food processor, pulse the dates, nuts and salt until well blended and coarsely ground – you should be able to squeeze it together in a clump. If you like, pulse or stir in any add-ins.
Shape the mixture into balls, then taper one end so that it’s shaped like an egg. If you like, roll the finished eggs in cocoa or dip in chocolate. Makes about a dozen Easter eggs.