It’s Friday! We made it! I think we should celebrate with something sweet. Something with chocolate and hazelnuts that tastes decadent, but is perfectly acceptable for breakfast.
I’ve been on a big nut butter kick recently – almond, walnut, cashew, good old-fashioned peanut butter – but it had been way too long since I made a batch of my Vegan Nutella. Craving that classic combination of roasted hazelnuts and chocolate, I decided to use those flavors to create Nutella-inspired snack bites.
I made a couple of variations: one paleo-friendly, one with gluten-free oats, and both vegan. The paleo version was good, but the oats took these from sticky chocolate-hazelnut-date balls to what can only be described as a mix between a rich, Nutella cookie dough and a dense, almost fudge-like brownie.
And yet, these little unassuming balls have zero processed sugar. Medjool dates are kind of magical like that.
Rolled in some finely chopped hazelnuts for a little crunch, I’ve been loving these as a pre-workout snack, a post-dinner dessert, and the other day, I even ate a couple for breakfast when I was on a never-ending conference call. Just try to time it so that you’re not eating one moments before you have to present. Talking with a Nutella ball stuck to the roof of your mouth can make for some really awkward client interactions.
Thank goodness for almond milk to wash it all down.
- ⅔ C. Raw Hazelnuts, plus an additional ¼ C. for coating
- 1 C. Pitted & Chopped Medjool Dates
- ⅓ C. Gluten-Free Rolled Oats (or regular rolled oats)
- 3 Tbs. Cocoa Powder
- 1½ Tsp. Vanilla Extract
- ¼ Tsp. Sea Salt
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
- Once the oven is heated, spread the ⅔ C. + ¼ C. of raw hazelnuts on a baking sheet and place in the oven for 8-10 minutes, until fragrant. Keep a close eye on them during the last couple of minutes so they don't burn.
- Allow the roasted hazelnuts to cool.
- Once cooled, remove the hazelnut skins by rubbing them in a dish towel. No need to be perfect, but try to remove as much of the skins as you can.
- Place the hazelnuts in a food processor and process until fine and crumbly (about 30 seconds). Remove ¼ C. of the hazelnut crumbs and set aside in a small bowl.
- To the food processor, add the pitted and chopped medjool dates, oats, cocoa powder, vanilla, and sea salt, and process until the mixture forms a ball on the blade (about 2 minutes, depending on your processor). You may need to scrape down the sides of the processor once or twice.
- Scoop out 1 to 1½ tablespoon-sized balls of dough and toss the balls in the hazelnut crumbs you set aside.
- Store in a container in the refrigerator.
Photography by Aaron Scott