I’ve been really into oats lately because they are gluten free and easy to use in place of other common, heavier raw dessert bases like almond or coconut flour—and a whole lot less expensive too. Even though they are not technically raw, they are widely used in raw food desserts—hey, I don’t make up the rules. However, some people don’t digest grains very well…
Recently I had a chat with someone who wanted to know if the desserts we were featuring at NAMA in London were grain free. The answer was of course, not all of them. During our chat, she mentioned that she really likes Tahini. That got my chefy brain thinking about how I could use it as a base in some desserts. [That’s the surprise ingredient ;)] as a way of avoiding the use of grains.
I know, tahini is not something you often see in desserts. When people think of it, they usually think of hummus or other Middle Eastern food. And, if you have ever had it, you know it’s not something you want to eat of out the jar, say like you would almond butter or coconut butter.
The trick to using tahini is getting the acid and sweetness just right, otherwise you are left with its bitter taste. But, when you get it right, it is amazing in all sorts of things—smoothies, salad dressings, and yes, desserts.
I have to say, The Flavor Bible is my go to for pairing foods. I try not to get stuck in the monotony of using the same spices, nuts, dried fruits, etc. It comes in really handy for inspiration on pairing the perfect ingredients.
For this recipe, I decided my base ingredient was tahini (ground sesame seeds) and a suggested pair was cherries. We have the most lovely dried sour cherries at NAMA and I knew the acid I needed to balance this truffle would come from the sourness of these cherries. And, what goes better with cherries than chocolate?!?! Had to be done!
If you know anything about me, you’ll know that I am kinda obsessed with the emotional connection of food and how it can take you away and transport you to another world entirely. Who doesn’t want to be swept away from the hustle and bustle of our busy days? Even if it is only for a few minutes!
That is exactly what these truffles do. The combo was absolutely amazing—the crumb shell is a layer unto itself that breaks gently into the semi sweet dark chocolate shell, which gives way to a soft melt-in-your-mouth truffle center. The acidity from the cherries is subtly present at first and builds into an explosion of cherry at the finish. Tahini and dark chocolate from the chocolate paste are what give it the buttery mouth feel. Absolutely delicious!
Now, onto the recipe.. We’re going to begin with the sesame crumb because they will need soaking and dehydrating time. The truffle filling will also need setting time of 4 hours – overnight.
If you opt out of making the crumb, that’s all good, you can simply garnish the truffles with some sesame seeds.
Black and White Sesame Crumb
You can use black and white sesame seeds (or just white) for sprinkling as garnish instead.
100g ( ¾ cup) white sesame seeds
100g ( ¾ cup) black sesame seeds
75g ( ⅓ cup ) coconut sugar
5g ( 1 tsp ) vanilla
- Soak the seeds together for 2 hours in a mixing bowl with enough water to cover. You’ll need to swirl them around a few times at first to get them below the liquid.
- Sieve the seeds very well. Leave them suspended above a bowl to catch excess water for 5 minutes to get all the water out.
- Transfer to a mixing bowl and add the sugar and vanilla, mix to combine.
- Spread the mix onto a teflex lined dehydrator tray and dry at 115f for 10-15 hours and then flip onto a mesh tray to complete drying for an additional 10 hours or until crisp.
- You may want to remove some from the dehydrator and let them come to room temp to see if they’re ready. Often when they’re warm you cannot tell if they’re crisp.
- The seeds will be stuck to each other and will have formed a sheet. Break them up and pulse in the food processor to create a crumb.
- The crumb makes an excellent shell on the outside of the truffle—like that crispy cookie layer in Ferreo Rochers.
Tahini Cherry Truffles
125g (1 cup) dried unsweetened cherries
75g (1 cup) dates
125g ( ½ cup) light roasted or raw tahini
50g ( ⅓ cup) cacao powder
50g ( ¼ cup) coconut sugar, powdered
2g (1 tbsp) vanilla powder
1 tsp tamari
75g ( ⅓ cup) cacao paste, melted
Note – if your tahini is from the bottom of the jar where it’s very thick (as all the oil is gone) you may need to add a little more liquid to this recipe, otherwise it could end up being very thick.
- Soak the cherries in enough water to cover for 1 hour, or until softened. You can use warm water to speed this up.
- Strain the cherries and reserve the soak liquid for blending.
- In a high speed blender, combine the cherries and dates and blend into a paste using as little cherry soak water as necessary to get the paste consistency.
- Transfer to the bowl of your food processor and add the next set of ingredients through the tamari. Process to combine well.
- Add the cacao paste and pulse to combine.
- Transfer to a container and place in the fridge for 4 hours or until firm enough to roll into balls.
- Once ready to roll, powder your hands very lightly in cacao powder and roll the mixture into small balls.
- Place on a greaseproof paper-lined tray or dehydrator tray lined with Teflex.
- Once all the mix is made into balls, pop in the fridge while you prepare the chocolate (this will give the truffles a chance to firm up again after being warmed by your hands).
- Enrobe using the instructions below. Garnish with Candied Sesame Seeds.
Using pre-made chocolate
- Choose a chocolate that you enjoy. Health-wise, the darker, the better. I even use 100% cacao paste sometimes as the filling is so sweet, the thin chocolate shell doesn’t need to be.
- Chop it up into small pieces—the smaller they are, the faster they will melt. Pop 1/2 of the pieces into a stainless steel mixing bowl.
- Fill a sauce pot about 1 inch with water.
- Put the bowl of chocolate on top; the bowl should not touch the water or it can burn the chocolate.
- Bring water to a simmer and stir the chocolate constantly, over a low simmer, until it has melted evenly.
- Once the chocolate is melted, remove from the bowl from on top of the pot and add the remaining 1/2 of the chocolate you chopped up.
- Stir that chocolate through until it’s all melted.
- Have the candied sesame seeds ready and in a ramekin or something easy to grab from.
- The truffles shouldn’t be straight out of the freezer—if they have been frozen, allow to come to cool room temp before enrobing. If they are coming right from the fridge, let them sit at room temp for 10-15 mins before enrobing.
- Set yourself up so that the truffles are set to your left. Put a fork and your bowl of melted chocolate in front of you, and a tray lined with greaseproof or a teflex lined dehydrator tray is set to your right.
- Drop one truffle into the bowl of chocolate.
- Use your fork to push it into the chocolate and then fish it out—avoid dragging it up the side of the bowl.
- Tap the fork on the side of the bowl and swipe the bottom of the fork along the edge of the bowl to remove excess chocolate.
- For aesthetic reasons, take your time to ensure you have removed as much excess as possible, otherwise you will end up with a puddle under your finished truffle.
- Drop your enrobed truffle into the bowl of candied seeds and coat fully. Allow the truffle to sit in the crumb for 30 seconds – 1 min before lifting it out. This will prevent pull marks in the crumb.
- Lift the chocolate out of the crumb, shake off the excess and place on the empty tray to your right.
- If your chocolate starts to get too thick while you are working with it, simply give it a tiny bit of heat on the double boiler again as before, just to loosen it up.
- Once all chocolates are enrobed and garnished, set the tray in the fridge for about 5 minutes and then allow to set the remainder of the way at room temp.
- These truffles are best kept in the fridge due to the use of fresh ingredients; cherries and dates. They will keep for 5-7 days in an airtight container.