It’s no secret that I’m a devout worshipper of Baby Chocolate Cheesus, giver of all things chocolate and magical, which are really one and the same because chocolate is magic. And of course in my commitment to the god of chocolate there’s a 99.5% certainty that somehow, some time, I’ll get a cheeky daily fix but, I do try to make sure it’s as clean as possible. I do this by buying the best quality dark chocolate I can find (or that my husband can afford) and really savouring a couple of squares, or I make my own chocolate treats from clean, real food ingredients so I know what’s really going in my mouth.
One thing you’ll always find in my fridge or freezer are bite sized balls of some description, the flavour is never quite the same because I tend to just throw things in the blender and see what happens. That’s exactly what was going on in my kitchen when I accidentally came up with these gems.
There I was in my place of happiness at the kitchen bench experimenting with a new badass nut butter blend, a chunky, nutty, cacao, coconut, chia freakin revelation. In my head it was awesome, in reality shit got a bit crazy and what came out of the blender wasn’t precisely what I had in mind. I had a bowl of dubious looking chocolate nut butter in front of me but waste is a dirty word round here and so the Choc-Chilli Bomb was born – a velvety smooth, chocolately mouthful with a warming little flavour explosion for a sweet and spicy hit.
Get this stuff
1 cup of nut butter
I’m a fan of my home made almond coconut blend because it has a nice mild flavour and smooth texture but use whatever you like or have available. If you’re not following a strictly paleo diet then quality peanut butter is just as good but be aware that it does have a more pervasive flavour that will influence the end result. Whatever you choose just make sure you use the real stuff. Do a bit of label reading at the supermarket, the ingredients of nut butter should be nuts and maybe a bit of salt that’s pretty fucking simple. Sugar, antioxidants, maltodextrin, stabilisers…what the… this shit has no place in nut butter.
1 cup of dates – Medjool or bog standard, it’s up to you.
Many clean treat recipes use medjool dates and there’s no doubt they’re bloody amazing but they also cost a motza and some recipes can call for enough to equal the GDP of a small developing nation. If I’m using dates as a baking ingredient where they function as a sweetener and moistener (is that a word? It sounds so very wrong) like here, I just use the cheap and cheerful variety and I soak them in hot water for at least a couple of hours or ideally overnight. I usually keep a jar soaking in the fridge that I use in smoothies or the kiddo’s breakfast and for emergencies such as this – and yes, this is chocolate related and therefore is a valid emergency.
½ cup of cacao or good quality dark cocoa powder
Again, it’s about using the best ingredients you can afford, if cacao is out of the budget the cocao is totally fine but do try to go for a nice dark dutch processed one if you can. If you compare a few brands you’ll see the difference, it gives a far more authentic deep chocolate flavour and you’ll use less so it actually won’t cost any more in the long run.
½ – ¾ cup of protein powder
I had some nasty stuff I’d bought in a moment of misguided retail excitement that I needed to use up. It was a dry as a nun’s nasty and tasted about as bad but I’m far too much of a tightarse to just throw it away so I’ve been trying to find ways to make it edible.
4 T of chia seeds
1-2 T of coconut oil
A good dash of vanilla and a few grinds of salt
Fresh finely chopped chilli, dry chilli flakes or a pinch of cayenne pepper, whatever you have on hand to add a bit of heat. How much is going to depend on how hot you like it but you’re aiming to create a bit of warmth to compliment the chocolate flavour not blow your fricken head off. You’re better off to start with less than you think and add more as you go along because once it’s in, there’s no turning back.
Optional extra – ½ cup of cacao nibs, again these are a bit of a luxury ingredient and add a nice bit of extra chocolate flavour and crunch but the result won’t be lacking at all if you leave them out.
Do this with it
Throw everything except the coconut oil in the blender or food processor and blitz the bejeezus out of it. You’ll probably need to stop and scrape the sides down a few times until it all starts coming together. You might need to do some adjusting here to get the right consistency and flavour depending on what sort of nut butter you used and whether you used medjool or soaked dates which will have extra moisture. This is where the coconut oil comes in to help smooth it out. If the mixture is too dry you might also need to add a bit of water or some of the date soaking liquid to bring it all together. This is also the time to sample the heat and add a bit more chilli if you like. You’re aiming for a mixture that is smooth and gorgeous, almost like a soft play dough texture.
That’s it. All you need to do now is roll it into bite-sized balls. I’m aware that this all depends on the size of your bite but bear in mind that even though these are made from good clean ingredients portion control still matters so be sensible about it, I tend to go for about a teaspoonful per ball. If you want to make them proper fancy pants you can roll them in a dusting of cocoa/ cacao, coconut, chia or chopped nuts for a super schmick finishing touch. Store them in the fridge or freezer and you have a high protein snack ready to go. Perfect pre or post workout grab and go or to combat and afternoon attack of ‘I feel like I need something else…’
I wanted these to be a high protein snack as opposed to a sweet treat hence the addition of protein powder. I have a separate post coming up on bliss ball variations that are just based around fruit and nuts that will give you some other ideas of flavour combinations.