Inspired by the unique flavours of Grenada’s cocoa balls, these healthy chocolate, date and almond balls are spiced with nutmeg and bay leaf and rolled with a rich cocoa coating.
Country Number 69: Grenada
Grenada is a little country located in the West Indies, just off the coast of Venezuela. With a population of just over 100,000 and a total surface area of just 350km2, it’s made up of one main island and several smaller islands that form the Grenadines. Full of turquoise waters, white-sand beaches and picturesque pastel-coloured houses clinging to hilltops, Grenada is your typical paradisical island. It’s also known as the “Isle of Spice”, due to the fact there is more spice production (per square mile) than anywhere else in the world. Most notable is the island’s production of nutmeg.
History of Grenadian Cuisine
The culture and cuisine in Grenada has been influenced by many different factors over the years. The French colonists, African slaves and Indians have all had a significant impact on shaping Grenada, and this can particularly be seen through local dishes. Fresh seafood, locally-grown vegetables and a plethora of spices form the basis of Grenadian cuisine. European settlers brought over crops of bananas, breadfruit, mango, cocoa and spices, and thanks to the country’s rich soil, these crops have all thrived over time.
The national dish of the country is oildown, a one-pot stew full of plantain, breadfruit, spices and coconut with some type of protein. Oildown is not just a dish but a communal affair: a large pot is often set to simmer during a Grenadian beach party and shared with family and friends. The Indian influence is most evident in the street food that is sold throughout Grenada, including aloo pie, dal puri and roti. Desserts are all richly spiced, particularly with nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, bay leaf, mace, turmeric, cloves, and allspice.
Popular Grenadian Vegetarian Dishes
- Fried bakes– Fried bread that is stuffed with various fillings including cheese and jam for vegetarian options.
- Callaloo soup– A soup made with callaloo, a leafy vegetable similar to spinach, often made with coconut milk.
- Cou cou pois– Cornmeal and vegetables are slow-cooked to form a smooth and firm mixture in a dish that can be eaten hot or cold.
- Roti– Popular throughout Grenada, a thin dough is cooked and filled with potatoes, curry and vegetables.
- Doubles– With Trinidadian roots, doubles are also eaten regularly in Grenada. They are made up of chickpea curry that is wrapped in fried bread.
- Sweet potato pudding- A dessert made up of grated sweet potato, coconut milk, raisins and various spices.
- Cocoa balls– Balls are made from drying and roasting cocoa beans then mixed with spices like cinnamon, bay leaf and thyme.
Vegetarian rating of Grenada Cuisine:
Making Healthy Chocolate Date Almond Balls
Bliss balls (or energy balls) are a constant in our household. I try to make a new flavour every week, or at least a variation on a flavour I have made in the past. They have become our go-to after lunch snack. It’s got to the point where if there are none in the freezer, Floss will come through to me with puppy-dog eyes requesting a new batch to be whipped up.
Grenada is famous for its cocoa balls, which are made of cocoa beans that have been dried, roasted and ground into a fine paste, then mixed with spices such as cinnamon, bay leaf and thyme. Although making these type of traditional cocoa balls seemed a little out of reach, I thought I could try and make bliss balls inspired by these flavour bombs. I used a base of dates and almonds combined with a bunch of Grenadian spices to form the inner of the balls, then made a rich homemade chocolate coating for the outer. However, if you want a quicker option, you can just melt dark chocolate and use that for a coating instead.
How to make Chocolate Date Almond Balls
- Add all ingredients for bliss balls to a food processor and blend until combined. The mixture should stick together when you press it with your fingers. If it’s too dry, add extra coconut oil and blend a bit longer.
2. Roll 1 tablespoon of mixture into a ball and repeat till all mixture is used. Set aside balls.
3. Meanwhile, boil water in a large saucepan over medium heat. Set a heat-proof mixing bowl on top of the saucepan to create a bain-marie, making sure it isn’t touching the water. Add cocoa butter to mixing bowl and allow a few minutes to melt. Once melted, whisk in maple syrup. Take off heat and whisk in cocoa powder, vanilla extract and salt until smooth.
4. Dip each bliss ball into chocolate mixture fully coating them, then set on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Put in freezer for 15 minutes to set.
Ingredient notes for Healthy Chocolate Date Almond Balls
- Almond meal- If you don’t have almond meal, simply blend almonds in food processor for about 30 seconds until a fine texture is achieved.
- Cocoa butter- If you don’t have cocoa butter you can sub for coconut oil or use dark chocolate if you don’t want to make your own cocoa coating
- Cocoa powder- Use a high-quality unsweetened dark cocoa powder for the richest, most chocolatey result
Serving suggestions for Healthy Chocolate Date Almond Balls
These are the perfect morning or afternoon snack to have with a coffee, a cup of tea or if you really want to satisfy your chocolate cravings, hot chocolate.
Other healthy treats to make
Cocoa Bliss Balls
- 1 cup dates
- 1 cup almond meal
- tsp vanilla essence
- 1 tbsp coconut oil (melted)
- 1/2 nutmeg (grated)
- 2 bay leaves (ground)
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup cocoa butter (chopped)
- 1 tbsp maple syrup
- 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 3/4 cup dark chocolate (melted)
- Add all ingredients for bliss balls to a food processor and blend until combined. Mixture should stick together when you press it with your fingers. If it’s too dry, add extra coconut oil and blend a bit longer.
- Roll 1 tablespoon of mixture into a ball and repeat till all mixture is used. Set aside balls.
- Meanwhile, boil water in a large saucepan over medium heat. Set a heat-proof mixing bowl on top of the saucepan to create a bain-marie, making sure it isn’t touching the water.
- Add cocoa butter to mixing bowl and allow a few minutes to melt. Once melted, whisk in maple syrup. Take off heat and whisk in cocoa powder, vanilla extract and salt until smooth.
- Dip each bliss ball into chocolate mixture, fully coating them, then set on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Put in freezer for 15 minutes to set.
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