Healthy Dark Chocolate “Cake Pops”

Hello! Wow, this whole ‘no power’ thing is getting old. Yes, I’m still without electricity, internet, hot water, a refrigerator…all in which are necessities for survival, not to mention needed for blogging! Irene hit New England hard so I hope those of you affected by the hurricane are safe and sound. On a lighter note: this post is wayyyyy overdue but I hope you still enjoy it because, not to brag or anything, it rocks. I’m going to be honest here, I’ve never made cake pops before. As you can tell from my lack of dessert recipes, I’m not one for sweets but I wanted to put a healthy spin on the favorite fad as a way to thank those who left such a substantial imprint on my life this summer. This little gem of a recipe was quite the experiment but resulted in a cute, memorable (and delicious!) gift I’m extremely proud of.

 Ingredients
1 tablespoon almond butter
1 1/2 cup almonds
20 dates
1 banana
1/2 cup reduced fat shredded coconut
1 cup rolled oats
2 teaspoons stevia (or preferred sweetener)
3 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon Nutella
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Toppers/Presentation Essentials
2 bars of dark chocolate (I used Ghiradelli’s 72% Cacao)
Stevia to taste
Nutella
Reduced fat shredded coconut
Wax Paper
Pop sticks
Cellophane
Ribbon 

Ready? Set? PULSE! Ok, the instructions are fairly simple. Combine all of the ingredients into a food processor (on high) until the dates are fully chopped and everything is thoroughly mixed. The batter will start clumping together. (For efficiency purposes, start with the wet ingredients and slowly add in the dry.) Form into balls, roughly an inch in diameter, and let sit on a baking sheet for ten minutes in the refrigerator before piercing with a pop stick. FYI: The bigger the pop, the heavier it will be so, in other words, the sticks may not be able to hold the weight. Trust me, I learned this the hard way…the smaller the better! Once the sticks are firmly in place and the pops seem sturdy, melt the dark chocolate and Nutella together over low heat in a small but deep sauce pan. Add in sweetener, if needed, and dunk the pops into the gooey hazelnut chocolate. Roll in shredded coconut or other toppings of your choice before placing on a baking sheet covered in wax paper. Once your done with the toppings, place the pops in the refrigerator overnight to allow the chocolate coating to cool and harden. Last but not least, wrap the goodies up in cellophane, tie with a pretty ribbon and voilà! You’ve got yourself a thoughtful, healthy gift or an impressive party favor. Like I previously mentioned, this recipe was somewhat of an experiment so feel free to alter it as you see fit. For example, if you want it a little sweeter, add in more stevia. If you don’t have stevia, use agave nectar or honey…just use less liquid. If your “cake dough” seems dry, mix in more nut butter and water for the right consistency. On the other hand, add in ground flaxseed if the pops are too sticky! This recipe yields roughly 12 cake pops. The little buggers got RAVE reviews so I hope you enjoy them, too!  

Have you ever made cake pops? What advice could you lend on creating the perfect pop? Any healthy topping ideas?  

Sprinkled with Love,
Lauren

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