These Dreamy Stuffed Dates are like a homemade Snickers bar and an Almond Joy had a baby. One of the key ingredients in the filling is coconut manna, sometimes called coconut butter.
Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Bliss Balls
Dietary Compliance: Gluten-free, Dairy-free, Almost-Paleo, Paleo
These Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Bliss Balls are surprisingly convincing. Their doughy and tender texture melts-in-your-mouth. It’s got just the right amount of sweet and a tiny hint of salt, and the cacao nibs — in case you’ve never used them — have such a delightful bittersweet crunch. I wouldn’t dare make these with actual chocolate chips. They’re much better this way.
The secret to this gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free, low-sugar “dough” is a pantry staple called coconut manna, also known as coconut butter. Coconut manna is a different product than coconut oil, coconut cream, or coconut milk, so substituting any of those won’t work here.
However, I can assure you that if you don’t already have some in your pantry, coconut manna is a welcome and versatile addition that won’t go to waste. It makes a regular appearance in Paleo treat recipes, and can also be stirred into sauces, curries, soups, and smoothies. I also used it in these Dreamy Stuffed Dates.
Coconut manna is made from the fresh meat of the coconut, which is lightly dried and then ground into a smooth paste. It’s more crumbly than nut butter (until it’s warmed), but the general idea is the same.
By far, the most seductive thing about coconut butter/manna (and what makes it so key in these Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Bliss Balls) is that it has a luscious melt-in-your-mouth quality that is unlike any other food.
Building off the subtle sweetness of the coconut manna, I added sticky-caramely Medjool dates, complex (and surprisingly nutrient-dense) maple syrup, a subtle shake of cinnamon (which accentuates sweet flavors), and an alcohol-free vanilla powder to create a cookie dough that is surprisingly convincing.
A note about vanilla powder: There are a couple of products out there that go by the name “vanilla powder”, but are quite different. One is a dark powder made from ground vanilla beans. That’s not what I used here. I used Cook’s Pure Vanilla Powder which is an alcohol-free alternative to vanilla extract, in the form of a white, aromatic powder. If you don’t have Cook’s Vanilla Powder on hand, you could try substituting 1/2 – 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract. I haven’t tested that so I’m not sure if it will change the consistency of the dough. You may need to add a little extra coconut flour to account for the extra moisture. Let me know if you try it!
Here’s some info about the thyroid-healthy ingredients in this recipe:
- Cacao nibs are small pieces of dried, crushed cacao beans. They have a bittersweet chocolate flavor, and are considered a superfood. Cacao nibs are naturally low in sugar, high in antioxidants, anti-inflammatory, and are a good source of fiber, protein, and healthy fats. They also contain several minerals including key thyroid-supporting minerals like magnesium, zinc, and iron.
- Medjool dates are an excellent natural sweetener and caramel substitute. Although they are high in sugar and should be consumed in moderation, they provide 2 grams of dietary fiber per fruit.
- Coconut products such as coconut oil and coconut butter contain healthy fats, which can aid in hormone balance. Consumption of healthy fats is commonly recommended for those with thyroid issues for this reason.
- Although it’s best to avoid large amounts of sugar on a hypothyroid-friendly diet, maple syrup is one of the most nutritious alternatives when sweetener is called for. It contains up to 24 different phenolic compounds (antioxidants), which can reduce the free radical damage that leads to inflammation and chronic disease.
Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Bliss Balls
- 1/2 cup coconut manna, aka coconut butter, NOT coconut oil, warmed
- 4 Medjool dates, pitted and roughly chopped
- 1/4 cup maple syrup
- Pinch fine sea salt
- Pinch cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon vanilla powder
- 1/2 cup almond flour
- 1 tablespoon coconut flour
- 2 tablespoons cacao nibs
Line a small tray with parchment and set aside.
In a mini food processor or blender, combine warmed coconut manna, dates, maple syrup, sea salt, cinnamon, and vanilla powder. Process to a smooth paste consistency.
Add almond flour and coconut flour and pulse to combine.
In a small mixing bowl combine dough mixture and cacao nibs. Use your clean hands to knead the cacao nibs into the dough. Roll into 1-inch balls and place on parchment-lined tray. Enjoy immediately or refrigerate (covered) for up to 1 week.