Last night I took a red eye to Boston. As an incorrigibly finicky sleeper, red eyes are generally my least favorite way to travel. Sometimes, though, the allure of an extra day spent with friends is reason enough to forsake a full night of sleep. After a busy day at work, I’d been feeling pretty good about my redeye decision as I tried valiantly to slip into a sleepy state in the boarding area. Taking relaxing deep breaths in and out at the gate was proving to be a good sleep-inducing strategy as I found myself swaying ever so slightly back and forth.
All my dreams of sweet dreams were shattered as an amped-up class of eight graders shepherded by precious few adult chaperones lined up behind me. I figured they were boarding for the next flight, not MINE. You know, jetting off to Fort Lauderdale for coed spring break? I tried to convince myself that there was no way they were Boston-bound, but deep down I knew that the odds, with Boston home to famous tea parties and other such events of historical significance, were against me and my sweet dreams.
Resigned to a fate of temporary insomnia, I pulled out my secret weapons: an Ambien and a small container of mint-infused raw chocolaty date-seed truffles I’d made a few days before. With just a handful of ingredients and no cooking required, these truffles are a breeze to put together and function equally well as a snack, pre- or post-workout fuel, or dessert. Last night, I used them to chase an Ambien and drown my sleepy sorrows. With their pleasantly seedy crunch, (unrefined) dose of sugar and touch of mint and cocoa, these little balls lifted my spirits and perhaps even redeemed my faith in the possibility of a nap.
I’d be lying if I said I slept like a stone with excited children whooping and hollering and occasionally kicking the back of my seat. I do know that I arrived with my sanity and some little balls of goodness to share with the friends for whom wasting a night of sleep is a no-brainer.
raw mint chocolate truffles
½ cup raw sesame seeds (hulled or un-hulled; either is fine)
½ cup raw sunflower seeds
dash or two of fine sea salt
2 tbsp raw cocoa powder, plus more for rolling
2½ cups packed pitted Medjool dates*
1/8 tsp peppermint extract
¼ tsp vanilla extract
First, pour a generous layer of cocoa powder in the bottom of a shallow dish or plate. Later, you’ll use this for rolling the truffles.
In a food processor, pulse sesame and sunflower seeds, sea salt, and 2 tbsp cocoa powder until some of the seeds are chopped but are not finely ground. It’s a matter of taste and textural preference, but I like the occasional semi-whole seed in my bite of truffle.
Transfer seed-cocoa mixture to a bowl and add dates to food processor. Sprinkle with mint and vanilla extract, and process until dates resemble a thick pulp. The mixture will probably form a ball, so you’ll want to stop the processor occasionally to break them up and scrape down the sides of the bowl.
Add dates to bowl with seeds and use your hands to combine everything together. You’re really going to have to get in there. It’s a pretty full-contact raw-cooking experience.
When mixture is fully combined, form generous tablespoon-sized balls between your hands. Roll in additional cocoa powder and transfer to a wax paper-lined container or plate. Refrigerate to firm up for a couple hours. I like eating these cold out of the fridge, but they’ll be fine at room temperature for 4-5 days, too.
* I used Medjool dates that were plump and, for a dried fruit, pretty moist. If your dates are especially dry, the food processor will have a hard time breaking them down. Feel free to soak dry dates in a bowl of hot water until soft (probably around an hour, depending on how dry they are). Make sure you drain them thoroughly and press out extra water. If you still find your mixture too moist, add in more cocoa powder by the tablespoon until the truffles come together into not-too-sticky balls.