I love food. I think about it all the time. Where to eat, what to make for dinner, what to bake at 10pm with limited ingredients and dessert urgency. My boyfriend knows this. “You should start a blog”, he said.
After a photo hosting site’s service terms change brought an abrupt end to my previous blog, I was reluctant to start a new one. But food.
What better way to start over than with old-school dadelbolletjies, aka date balls. Now these aren’t the healthy protein ones. That’s a post for another day. These little treats are, or at least used to be, a staple on the shelves of most tuisnywerhede (home industries) and kerkbasaar (church fete) tables. You’ll find various hand scribbled versions in grannies’ recipe books (look for the stained pages – that’s where the good stuff is).
A recipe by Anna Carolina Alberts from her book Butter & Love inspired me to whip up a batch. I used hers as a base, consulted a few hand scribbled inherited recipes, and then finally added a few of my own touches. Like the cocoa. Because chocolate makes everything better. Did I mention they are really quick to make?
250 g pitted dates
1/2 cup (120 g) butter
3/4 cup (150 g) sugar
200 g packet of Marie Biscuits, crushed
1/4 – 1/3 cup water
1/2 cup cocoa powder
2/3 cup desiccated coconut
1 egg, beaten
1 cup desiccated coconut for coating
- Chop the dates into pieces.
- Crush the Marie Biscuits in a food processor or by placing them in a zip lock bag and bashing them with a rolling pin.
- Add the dates, water and butter to a pot and simmer over a low-medium heat. (If the dates are very dry, use more water, if the dates are quite soft, then less water will suffice.)
- When the date mixture starts simmering, add the sugar.
- Stir occasionally with a wooden spoon or sturdy spatula, breaking down the date pieces. You want a mushy mixture with a few date chunks.
- Once you have a nice mush add the cocoa powder, coconut and crushed biscuits.
- Stir the mixture until combined and remove from the heat.
- Add the beaten egg and stir with a bit of vigour to make sure it’s incorporated. You should now have a stiff mixture that says on a spoon when you scoop it. If it is too sloppy for some strange reason, add a bit more coconut.
- Let the mixture cool until you can comfortably handle it without burning your hands.
- Roll into walnut sized balls, then cover each ball in coconut.
- Place in the fridge to firm up if you can resist the temptation to tuck in.
Warning: they are addictive.