Vegan Pumpkin Chocolate Truffles
For the majority of the week, my food must check off certain boxes; healthy, delicious, easy, and affordable (last week’s easy weeknight chili and cornbread bowls are a testament to this). But on weekends – especially cold weekends during the holiday season – some of these boxes can be left unchecked. Since healthy and delicious recipes are pretty much mandatory around here, the easy (and occasionally affordable) requirements are the ones I’m ok letting go of. When I’m surrounded by pumpkin everything and I’m in the mood to be in my kitchen.
Weeknight cooking can feel like a job to check off the list. Dinner? Done. But I think it's important to have some time in the kitchen that isn't so structured. Being inspired, trying new recipes, and slowing down a bit; these are some of the reasons I started Loveleaf in the first place. I think nourishing food can be meditative and even fun to make when we take a minute to step out of our mission-driven cooking zone and let loose a little.
So if you too are craving some freestyle time in the kitchen (or just healthy-ish Halloween treats), these pumpkin chocolate truffles are for you. The recipe is not quick - there's quite a bit of waiting while the truffles harden in the freezer - but it's relatively easy, healthy, and even affordable. Read on for some tips to keep the cost down but the quality up.
Healthy treats can be expensive to make, but I have some tricks to keep the cost reasonable. If you have a Trader Joe's nearby, grab a bag of their raw cashew pieces (rather than whole cashews) to save a bit on the nuts. Trader Joe's is my go-to for spices, like cinnamon and pumpkin pie spice, since they're only $1.99 each.
Inexpensive, quality dark chocolate and organic pumpkin puree are also easily found at Trader Joe's. Instead of buying a whole bag of dried dates, I opt for buying only what we need (about a cup for this recipe) from the bulk bins at Whole Foods. Most healthy treat recipes call for pricey Medjool dates, but we find this to be an unnecessary expense. Grab the cheaper, easier to find Deglet Noor variety and soften them up by letting them soak in warm water for a couple hours.
Read more about my favorite places to buy ingredients here.
Vegan Pumpkin Chocolate Truffles
- 3/4 cup raw cashews (soaked for 2-4 hours and rinsed)
- 2 tablespoons creamy, unsweetened almond butter
- 1 cup dried dates, pitted and chopped (see notes)
- 3/4 cup pure pumpkin purée
- 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
- a big pinch of sea salt
- 6 ounces quality dark chocolate, chopped (I like 70% cacao and above)
MAKE THE FILLING
- Add soaked cashews to your food processor and process until creamy, about 2 minutes. Add the almond butter and process again. Add dried dates and process again until a thick, sticky mixture is formed. Then add the pumpkin purée, vanilla extract, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, and the sea salt. Process until all the ingredients are well combined and the mixture is uniformly smooth (it might take a few minutes).
- Transfer the mixture into a bowl and place in the freezer until very firm, about an hour. When the filling has firmed up, take it out of the freezer. Scoop out 1 teaspoon of the mixture at a time and place onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Lightly, with slightly damp hands, shape each teaspoon of mixture into balls by rolling the mixture between your hands. If the mixture is too sticky, that's ok. Just portion out the teaspoon-sized balls (without rolling between your hands) and stick the whole tray back in the freezer until the mixture is firm enough to roll into balls, about an hour more.
MAKE THE CHOCOLATE COATING
- Melt the chocolate in a double boiler or - very carefully in increments - in a microwave. You can find tips on melting chocolate here. Once the chocolate has melted, remove the tray from the freezer and lightly roll each teaspoon of the mixture between your palms to form little balls if you haven't done so already.
- Using two forks, dip each ball into the melted chocolate, until completely covered. Let the extra chocolate drip off before placing back onto the parchment paper lined baking sheet.
- Once all the truffles are covered in chocolate, put the tray back in the freezer for about 30 minutes until the truffles have firmed up again. Sprinkle with extra pumpkin pie spice and sea salt before serving. Store in the refrigerator or freezer.
Medjool dates are the softest, but also the more expensive variety of dried dates. We find that Deglet Noor dates work just fine here. If they seem very dry, simply soak in warm water for a couple hours and drain before using.[