My favourite holiday tradition over the past few years has been baking holiday cookies with my mom. I would pack the car with my stand mixer and boxes of baking supplies and make my way to her kitchen for a delicious day of crafting cookies. She would focus on her traditional recipes, which never failed, while I would gather a few recipes that I’ve bookmarked over the year. Last year we even tried macarons which didn’t work out, but at least my mom’s cookies were there to save the day. With our bellies full of cookies (mine also full of cookie dough), we packed them away into the basement, where they patiently waited to be taken to holiday gatherings and office parties. There was always more than enough left over for tea and an occasional treat, and they lasted us well into the winter.
This year is a little bit different. I haven’t really thought about the day that we would decide not to bake cookies but I knew it was coming, as we’ve both been striving to have less baked goods in our lives. Even though most of the batch goes out as gifts, our friends and family don’t need any more cookies during this time of the year either. I’m proud of our decision and it really shows how far we’ve come over the year as far as our eating values go. We thought about making “healthier” cookies, but haven’t mastered the art just yet (I’m working on it) and couldn’t rely on sharing them with people that have come to expect the sugar, flour, and butter that we’ve been delivering year after year. Maybe next year!
But I couldn’t let this year go by without at least trying to offer a better alternative to holiday cookies here on my blog. I’ve been trying to find the right recipe, and it just so happened to come along last week when I experimented with these coconut snowballs from The Kitchn. When baking cookies, I’ve always been inspired by the slice-and-bake cookies palette from Smitten Kitchen and try a few new flavour combinations every year. So I’ve applied similar principles to the snowballs, experimenting with different flavour additions, and renamed them to truffles. These are great for any sort of restrictive diet that you may have to accommodate for at your holiday gatherings. They are vegan, lightly sweetened with maple syrup, and grain free. They can also be made raw and/or nut-free depending on the flavour. Sounds boring? The flavours I experimented with were pretty intense, so no one will even know.
Wishing you all an amazing holiday season! I’ll be back in January, rockin’ the veggies :)
- 1 cup shredded coconut
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 2 tsp. virgin coconut oil
- 2 Tbsp. maple syrup
- up to 2 Tbsp. coconut milk (optional, depending on other ingredients)
- 1/2 cup shelled pistachios
- small pinch of saffron, soaked in 1 Tbsp. of hot water
- coarsely ground pistachios for coating
- 1/2 cup black sesame seeds
- regular and black sesame seeds for coating
- 1/2 cup cashews
- 2 Tbsp. dried cranberries
- 1 tsp. grated meyer lemon zest
- shredded coconut for coating
- Combine shredded coconut and coconut oil in a food processor and process until it forms a paste (about 2 – 3 minutes), scraping down the sides periodically.
- Add maple syrup and salt, and process to combine.
- Add the specific flavour ingredients (except those that are for the coating) and process the mixture to make it as smooth as possible.
- At this point, the mixture should resemble a thick paste. If it’s crumbly, add coconut milk, one tablespoon at a time and continue to process until the mixture reaches a paste-like consistency. If the mixture is too runny to form balls, place it in the fridge until its easier to work with.
- Divide the paste into 10 – 12 portions and form them into balls, rolling each in the coating ingredient.
- Repeat the process if making multiple flavours.
- Refrigerate the truffles for about 45 – 60 minutes before serving.
- If refrigerating for longer (or freezing), allow them about 15 – 20 minutes at room temperature before serving.