Raw Almond Joy Poppers

Here’s a fun fact: I hated Almond Joy bars as a kid.  Every Halloween I would happily give my Almond Joy bars to my mom.  Yes, I hated coconut, dark chocolate, and almonds. Funny how much your taste buds change as you grow up.  Now I eat nothing but dark chocolate, go through a jar of almond butter a week, and sneak coconut (in any form) into a meal whenever I can!  So I thought it was time to revisit Almond Joy bars.  Only I cringe when I look at candy these days, packed with sugar and god knows what else.  I set out to recreate the famous candy my way, meaning lots of nuts, dates, and cacao powder!

Not only does using nuts, dates, and cacao powder make these revised candy balls super nutritious, but it also means you don’t have to turn the oven on and they are ready in mere minutes!  When I made these yesterday, it was a balmy 78 F with about 100% humidity.  I couldn’t even think about turning the oven on!  As summer approaches, I’m all about making no-bake treats.  As much as I love my muffins, when it is hot and humid out they are out of the question.  I might have to wake up at 4am when it’s cool to bake, or not sleep and get my baking fix at 2am.  We will see.  For now, bring on no-bake and instant satisfaction!

I based my recipe for these balls off my no-bake gingerbread cookie dough balls, subbing the pecans and walnuts for almonds and adding cacao powder and coconut.  I also added a hint of almond extract to really bring out the almond flavor.  As far as topping these babies, I chose to roll some in shredded coconut and left some plain.  These would also be great if you dipped them in melted chocolate, giving them a chocolate shell.  I was just too hot (and hungry!) to take the extra time to melt the chocolate then wait for them to harden.

Pack these raw almond joys as a sack at work or when you’re traveling.  As they are bite sized, they travel well, and will keep you happy knowing you have a healthy and delicious treat ready at your fingertips.  You could also serve these as truffles as dessert, or eat them as breakfast! Happy snacking!

Raw Almond Joy Poppers

2 cups raw almonds
14 dates, pitted (I used medjool)
1/2 cup unsweetened, shredded coconut
1/2 cup cacao powder
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp almond extract
pinch sea salt

unsweetened, shredded coconut
3 ingredient chocolate (in liquid form), or melted chocolate chips/bar

1.  Line a small baking sheet or plate with wax paper.  Add almonds to the base of a food processor and blend for about 10 seconds.
2.  Add the coconut, cacao powder, vanilla and almond extract, and salt.  Process another 5-10 seconds.
3.  Slowly add the dates while the processor is running.  Blend mixture for 1-2 minutes, or until a dough begins to form.

4.  Using a melon scoop, or a tablespoon, scoop the dough and roll into balls between your hands.

5.  Roll in shredded coconut or leave plain.  Allow the balls to set in the fridge for an hour to harden before storing in an air-tight container in the fridge.  If you want to make a hard chocolate outer shell, melt some 3-ingredient chocolate or chocolate chips.  After the balls have set in the fridge, take out however many you want to cover in chocolate and stick a toothpick in the top of each one.  Dip in the melted chocolate, then put them back on wax-paper sheet in the fridge for an hour.  Once hardened, you can store them in the same container as the others.

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