You might be asking yourself… WHAT IS an energy ball? There are many names for this particular treat… some people go with “energy balls” some people call them “bliss balls,” one of the first bloggers I ever followed, Chocolate Covered Katie, calls them “Fudge Babies.”
Whatever you call them, these treats are essentially a combination of dried fruit, nuts, and other mix ins. Basically, a homemade Larabar! The ingredients are processed together in a food processor or blender until they form a dough which is then formed into balls, bites, or bars. The dates or other dried fruit provide both the sweetness and the binding power to form the “dough.” The nuts and whatever other mix-ins you choose provide the structure and flavor.
Some ingredients I often use in Energy Balls:
DRIED FRUIT & SWEETENERS: dates, dried figs, raisins, dried cranberries, dried blueberries, honey, maple syrup
NUTS & OTHER HEARTY STUFF: almonds, cashews, walnuts, pecans, pumpkin seeds, oatmeal, dried coconut
NUT FLOURS: almond flour or almond meal
NUT BUTTERS: natural peanut butter, almond butter, cashew butter, coconut butter
CHOCOLATE: mini chocolate chips, chocolate chunks, cocoa powder, cacao powder, cacao nibs
SPICES & FLAVORINGS: cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, freeze-dried fruits
PROTEIN & “SUPERFOODS”: egg white powder, protein powder, chia seeds, hemp seeds
Once you get the hang of how different ingredients work together, you can approach a batch of balls with the kitchen sink method; throwing in whatever sounds good and just seeing how they turn out! But if you’d be more comfortable starting from a recipe, I have a new one for you today!
A few things to keep in mind:
Since I add water to help the dough come together, I do recommend storing them in the fridge or freezer so they stay fresh. I like to store them in the freezer because they get a little bit more firm that way and the texture is amazing!
A cookie scooper (this one from OXO is the best) works well to get equally sized energy balls! Warning, the dough is sticky so it will get gunky!
If you don't feel like scooping and rolling (a bit of a time consuming task), just line an 8x8 pan with waxed paper, press the dough out into the pan, freeze, and cut into bites or bars.
Here's the food processor I use! It's huge and awesome. Best Christmas present ever, I really do use it at least once a week.
More of a chocolate fan? Be sure to check out this recipe for Chocolate Walnut Brownie Balls!
Cinnamon Sticky Bun Energy Balls
1 packed cup Medjool dates
1 cup raw or roasted cashews
2 cups almonds or almond meal/flour
1/4 cup pecans or pecan pieces
1 Tbsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1-3 Tbsp water (depending on how sticky your dates are)
In the bowl of your food processor, combine dates, cashews, almonds, and pecans. Process until everything is chopped into tiny pieces (this will take a couple of minutes).
Add in cinnamon, vanilla extract, and salt and process to combine.
The mixture should hold together a bit when you pinch it in between your fingers, but we'll likely need to add some water to get a "cookie dough" consistency.
While the food processor is running, drizzle in 1 Tbsp of water. Continue to process and re-test the texture. Add an additional Tbsp of water if needed (I used two total).
Using a small cookie scooper, scoop the dough out into balls and place on a wax paper-lined cookie sheet.
TIP: If you don't have a cookie scooper, just pinch off bite sized pieces, as big as you want them! I used my smaller cookie scoop and got 26 balls, but if you make them bigger, you'll just get fewer! I always dump the mix out of the food processor bowl into a small bowl to make scooping easier (I hate that plastic thing in the middle of the food processor bowl). Warning, the cookie scooper will get super gunked up since the dough is sticky!
Roll each scoop in your hands to form into balls. You'll find that the mixture is pretty greasy from the nuts! Not to worry.
TIP: If you don’t want to go to the trouble of rolling balls, just press the dough into a wax-paper-lined bread pan or 8x8 pan and pop it in the freezer. Once it is solid, cut into bites or bars.
Store in the fridge or freezer and grab one any time you need a sweet treat!