Raspberry Dark Chocolate Truffles

by Amylee Amos MS, RDN

With Valentine’s Day around the corner I thought the timing was perfect to discuss chocolate. But beware! All chocolate is not created equal. I want to tell you about some of the great health benefits of certain types of chocolate, and then you can celebrate by making my indulgent Raspberry Dark Chocolate Truffles!

Dark chocolate is made from the cacao seed, which is roasted, ground, and then added to fat and sugar (1). The beneficial compounds in chocolate are from the cacao seed, which are rich in a phytonutrient called flavanols. Flavanols, along with other antioxidants found in cacao and dark chocolate can benefit brain health. More specifically, dark chocolate can help increase blood flow to the brain, which can enhance cognitive function (2). Additionally, the caffeine found in dark chocolate works as a stimulant, which can also make you feel more alert. The research certainly suggests that modest amounts of dark chocolate can benefit brain health and overall health as well. Diets rich in flavanols have also been linked to decreased cardiovascular disease risk (3). Long story short, eating dark chocolate can improve your health and reduce your risk of chronic illness. So should we break out the candy bars? Not so fast.

Chocolate is one of those things that’s always on the news because of some new study. One day it’s amazing for your health, they next day it’s the cause of the obesity epidemic. What gives? Well, all of those great benefits you just read about above are referring to pure dark chocolate. The thing is, that’s normally not what we’re eating. A Snickers bar is in no way equal to a piece of organic 86% dark chocolate. Some cellular protection from antioxidants does not outweigh the cellular devastation caused by a sugar overdose, and that’s what we’re doing when we eat conventional candies and chocolate.

Our bodies evolved to consume very little sugar. In fact the only sugar the early humans ate came from fruit, which was packaged with fiber, vitamins, and minerals. I love to use fruit as dessert, and what better way to indulge than to add some rich, organic dark chocolate to that fruit!? These truffles are made from dates and raspberries, then dipped in dark chocolate, which I must say is the perfect Valentine’s Day treat. Because of all the fiber packed into these truffles, you won’t get a massive blood sugar spike, but you will reap all of the dark chocolate benefits. So on this holiday and always, treat yourself- but do so intelligently!

This recipe makes 24 truffles (serving size: 1 truffle)

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups medjool dates, pitted and soaked in water
  • 3 tablespoons raw cacao powder
  • ½ cup almond meal
  • ¼ cup freeze dried raspberries (plus more for garnish)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 3 oz of organic 85% dark chocolate
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil

Directions:

  1. After soaking the dates for about 5-10 minutes, drain and discard the excess water.
  2. Place dates, cacao powder, almond meal, vanilla, and raspberries in a food processor and blend until smooth.
  3. The mixture will be sticky, but begin to roll it into small truffle sized balls. As you roll, place the balls onto a tray lined with parchment paper. Once you have used up all the mixture, put the balls into the freezer.
  4. Take the extra freeze dried raspberries and pulse in a food processor until it forms a powder. Set aside for garnish.
  5. Melt your chocolate in a double boiler with the coconut oil, stirring as it melts.
  6. While the chocolate is warm, take the balls out of the freezer and dip them into the melted chocolate.
  7. Once they’ve been fully coated in the melted chocolate, remove them, put them back onto the parchment, and immediately sprinkle with the raspberry powder.
  8. Put the truffles back in the freezer.
  9. Once they’ve hardened, serve alone or alongside some berries for a decadent, delicious dessert!

References:

  1. Haritha, K., Kalyani, L., and Lakshmana Rao, A. Health Benefits of Dark Chocolate. Journal of Advanced Drug Delivery. 2014; 1(4); 184-195.
  2. Di Tomaso, E., Beltramo, M., Piomelli D. Brain cannabinoids in chocolate. Nature. 1996; 382(6593): 677-678.
  3. Fisher ND, Hollenberg NK. Flavonols for cardiovascular health. Journal of Hypertension. 2005; 23(8): 1453-1459.