For many of us, treats are an essential part of creating and maintaining a balanced lifestyle. Whether it is a reward for achieving a goal, a motivational “carrot” or a quick endorphin boost in the times of stress, treats have an important role to play in our lives. While treats may sound self-indulgent, they play an essential role in helping us form and maintain healthy habits and cope with times of stress.
When we hear “treats”, we often think of sugary goods. But treats don’t have to take a form of a sugary bag of cookies or candies. One can have an equally satisfying yet healthy treat and we should all strive to have a menu of wholesome treats, so that we can recharge our battery in a healthy way.
While dark chocolate usually does the trick for me, especially when on the go, below chocolate almond pralines are a great staple to keep in the fridge. Both beautifully presented, and impossible to resist, they are filled such nutrient dense foods as dark chocolate (a powerful source of antioxidants and minerals) and almonds (with their healthy dose of monosaturated fats); and make you feel energized, cared for and content.
1 bar of dark chocolate (75% cocoa or higher), broken into chunks
½ cup almond meal (I use almond meal left over from making almond milk)
1 tbsp maple syrup
1 tbsp coconut oil
Sprinkling of pink Himalayan salt
1 tsp of almond essence
seeds from a vanilla pod or a drop of vanilla essence (optional)
Raw or roasted almonds (the recipe makes around 20 pralines, but will depend on the size of your mold. You want to have an almond per each praline)
Melt the chocolate chunks over bain marie by sitting a bowl with chocolate over a pan of simmering water and allowing the chocolate to melt, stirring occasionally. Once melted, take a silicone chocolate mold* and using a teaspoon cover the sides of the mold in a thin layer of melted chocolate (I pour a little chocolate into each cavity and then use the back of the spoon to spread it thoroughly over the sides). You need to careful to make sure there are no gaps left in the chocolate layer so that the filling stays secure within its chocolate casing. Place the mold in the freezer to set (this should take about 5 minutes). Note you will still have about half the melted chocolate left which we will use later to seal the pralines.
While the chocolate casing is setting in the freezer, prepare the filling. Mix almond meal with maple syrup, coconut oil, almond essence and salt. You should have a sticky mixture that you can roll into balls. Depending on whether you used store bought almond meal or the one from making almond milk (which will have excess moisture), you may have a different level of moisture in it and may need to adjust the wet ingredients slightly to achieve desired filling consistency. Also taste for sweetness and adjust the maple syrup if you would like a slightly sweeter filling.
Take the now set chocolate molds out of the freezer and place a whole almond (raw or roasted) inside each praline, followed by about a teaspoon of almond filling. Press the filling in tightly into the mold, leaving some space at the top, which you can then fill with the remaining melted chocolate to seal the pralines.
Place into a freezer again for 5-10 minutes to set and, once the chocolate has hardened, release the chocolates from their molds. These delicious yet wholesome chocolate almond bites need to be stored in the fridge and should keep for 1-2 weeks, if they last that long that is! These hit just the spot when you are craving something sweet to finish your day and make for an impressive treat to take to a dinner party.
*Place the silicone chocolate old on a flat baking tray or a chopping board to make it stable when moving between work surface and freezer compartment.