Sunday, 24 July 2011
Chai Spice infused Chocolate Dates filled with an Almond and Vanilla Pate
Fresh Californian dates are so decadent and sticky. They are a sweet treat on their own in my books. However paired with chai spice infused chocolate and gently stuffed with an almond and vanilla pate they become divine. I was telling a friend of mine
Mark, who doesn't eat processed sugar cane that there is only 5gms of chocolate per date and he really should allow himself one small date. He did have one after I went on the they're are good for you trip and sprouted off some of their alluring nutritious qualities.
Dates are high in iron, potassium & magnesium. They are full of antioxidants like vitamin A & beta carotene. The are a good source of B complex vitamins. These sweet morsels are a great source of nutrition and therefore make it into my sweet treats list to eat on a regular basis, totally guilt free.
Date are also known as a fruit of love. It must have something to do with their soft, luscious and sticky texture and their sweet, rich and sugary taste. I was thinking that I might make them for a wedding of some friends of ours which is coming up in October this year. I love some of the weddings around here where everyone brings a plate. It's lovely to make an offering towards a feast of love and celebration for two friends uniting in marriage.
Dates have a romantic history and are often known as a fruit of love. There is a line from the romantic and mystical Poet Rumi - this line was from a poem that was read at my wedding...'May this marriage offer fruit and shade, like the date palm' or this other line from another Rumi poem...'May this marriage be fruitful like a date tree'. Perfect for a wedding celebration feast!
This recipes is so easy to make. You can have these made in 15 minutes.
You will need:
10 Californian dates (the plump, soft fresh dates)
Almond and Vanilla Pate
1 cup of almonds (dehydrated is best if possible)
2 vanilla bean, scraped for their seeds or 1tbs vanilla paste (or thirdly, good quality vanilla essence)
2 tbs maple syrup
Place almonds in a food processor and process until the almonds have formed a fine meal. Add the vanilla bean seeds and maple syrup and blend until it forms a sticky almond pate. It will most likely form a lump in your food processor and then you'll know it's ready. Place the pate aside.
Then prepare the chocolate.
Chai Spice infused chocolate
50gm dark chocolate (55% cocoa solids or 70% cocoa solids for a less sweet version of this recipe)
4 cardamon pods, remove seeds, crush and chop with a knife
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp cinnamon powder
Using a large knife, shave or finely chop the chocolate and place in a porcelain or silver bowl along with the spices. Then place the bowl over a saucepan with an inch of water in the saucepan and bring the water to the boil (make sure the bowl is bigger than the saucepan so it's easy to remove from the saucepan).
Gently melt the chocolate and spices together, stirring from time to time. Once the chocolate is 90% melted, turn the heat down to simmer and allow it to slowly dissolve the rest of the chocolate and infuse the spices. Be sure to avoid getting water or steam in the chocolate or be careful not to burn the chocolate, either of these things will ruin your chocolate.
Taste the chocolate and make sure you can taste the chai spice then remove from heat and allow it to cool. You want the chocolate to be slightly cool, so that when you dip the top half of the dates and place them on a plate, the chocolate texture remains quite solid and thick and not too thin that it runs off the dates.
While the chocolate is cooling, split the top of each date with a knife. Gently remove the pitt. Then take approximately a heaped teaspoon of the almond pate and using the palms of your (clean) hands roll the pate into a sausage shape. Shape the pate to approximately the length of your dates and tuck the 'sausage' shaped pate into the date. Squeeze the date together to form a neat little package. Fill each date with the remaining pate.
Then when the chocolate is cool enough, dip the top half of the dates in the chocolate and place chocolate side up, on a plate lined with baking paper. Pop them in the fridge until they set, approximately 10 minutes.
If you put them in a lunch box they will keep for a good week (probably longer) and you can have one a day, enjoying their goodness with each bite.