Raw Cacao Treat Balls

Menu Plan Monday – 1st February
February 2, 2010
Flourless Choc Hazelnut Brownies
Flourless Choc Hazelnut Brownies
February 12, 2010

These yummy little treat balls are a firm favourite at our house – the kids love snacking on them for morning tea, and they are quite filling.  I love to use cacao powder in raw recipes, as it has so much more goodness than cocoa.  It’s a bit like the difference between Rapadura and refined sugar, or extra virgin olive oil and refined oils.  Regular cocoa is usually heat extracted (up to 150 degrees celcius!) with solvents.  Organic cocoas are better, such as ‘Planet Organic’, which is sun-dried, chemical free and fair trade – but cacao powder is the best (and is generally fair-trade also)!  (I use Planet Organic cocoa powder when cooking, but cacao powder in raw foods such as treat balls, raw slices, smoothies, and raw chocolate pudding.)

Cacao is cold pressed without solvents, and the nutrients are preserved much better than in cocoa – in fact, organic cacao has over 360% more anti-oxidants than regular cocoa!  It has 21 times more anti-oxidants than green tea, and 7 times more than dark chocolate!  Cacao does not raise blood cholesterol, it contains a fair amount of protein, and all three types of energy: fat, carbohydrates and sugar. It also contains high levels of catechin, fiber, carbohydrates, B vitamins and anti-oxidant-like substances. Calcium, Phosphates, Vitamins A, C and D occur in smaller quantities.  (Read some really interesting facts about cacao here, as well as some myths about chocolate!)

Since Cacao contains fat, sugars, carbohydrates and protein, it has historically been used as energy food — it’s energy content is high, 18500 kj/kg (2000 kcal/lb). There is no caffeine in cacao (or chocolate, contrary to popular opinion), but it does contain small amounts of theobromine, which is similar to caffeine in that it stimulates the mind, muscles, kidneys and heart – but it has less effect on the central nervous system than caffeine does. Theobromine is not addictive, and is a much gentler stimulant than caffeine (see findings here), but it’s still best not to overdo it. I find cacao powder makes me feel wide awake, so don’t munch out on these just before bed!  (And if you’re breastfeeding, don’t eat too many or your baby will happily stay awake for hours!)

If you’re dairy free, you’ll be pleased to know these balls are a good way to get some calcium into your diet because both the cacao powder and the tahini contain calcium in usable forms.

These are great for school lunch snacks – if your child’s school is ‘nut-free’ you can just substitute the almonds for a mixture of pepitas and sunflower seeds.

[Amounts are very flexible – I don’t generally measure, I just chuck in a couple of handfuls of dates (and sometimes sultanas or other dried fruit), and a couple of handfuls of almonds (and/or cashews and seeds), a couple of heaped tablespoons of cacao powder, a few blobs of tahini and a splash of agave syrup… and grind it all up adding more dates if it needs more moisture!]

Raw Cacao Treat Balls
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  1. 200g raw almonds
  2. 220g dates
  3. 30 - 40g cacao powder (to taste)
  4. a dash of pure maple syrup (to taste)
  5. 3 large tablespoons of tahini
  1. Put all the ingredients in the Thermomix bowl and grind up on speed 9 for about 40 seconds, or until well ground and mixed and able to be squished together into balls. If mixture is too dry, add some more dates or other dried fruit.
  2. Roll into balls and keep in the fridge. Can also be rolled in dessicated coconut if preferred.
Quirky Cooking https://www.quirkycooking.com.au/


  1. Cathy says:

    These are a family favourite. For “easter eggs” I made nut free and sesame seed free version so that they’re school safe. Today, instead of tahini I added about 30g dessicated coconut and a desertspoon of coconut oil. Worked beautifully! Thanks Jo.

  2. I just made these with cashews and pecans (all I had), fresh dates and I added a pinch or two of salt. I am a salty sweet addict. πŸ™‚ I love it! Yum, yum yum. Also, I didn’t have any agave syrup. Now I know I should only stick to one or two, but how???

  3. Jo Whitton says:

    Yum! Those fresh dates make these a truly decadent snack, don’t they!!! Don’t worry, they’re healthy. πŸ˜‰

  4. Yummo! I just got my thermomix a few days ago and tried these out and they are great. Used honey instead of agave syrup and chucked in some cashews cause didn’t have enough almonds.

  5. Donna says:

    My cacao powder an cacao nibs arrived yesterday so I’ve just tried this recipe with the addition of a handful of cocao nibs at the end. Delicious! Thank you πŸ™‚

  6. Amanda says:

    Just made these, added rind of one orange for that jaffa taste and 3 teaspoons of super greens (just because I can :)and only a tiny bit of agave, they are a hit! thanks again love your blog!

  7. Jo Whitton says:

    What a great idea – orange rind & super greens! Thanks Amanda πŸ™‚

  8. Ami says:

    Have you tried freezing these?
    They taste great πŸ™‚

  9. Jo Whitton says:

    Good idea, Ami! I love frozen chocolate truffles because they get all chewy – I guess these would be similar!

  10. Valeska says:

    Oh these are SO good! YUM! I know what we’re making for christmas giveaways this year. Divine, thanks Jo!

  11. Jane says:

    Hi just came across your blog and love the look of your recipes. Just wondering what you could use for these instead of the tahini paste? Could I use macadamia butter? Thanks!

  12. Jo Whitton says:

    Hi Jane, thanks! Yes, try macadamia butter πŸ™‚

  13. Gaylene says:

    These have become a staple in our household. I use 2 tbs of tahini and 1 tbs of homemade peanut butter and they are divine!!!!

  14. Anonymous says:

    Hi jo,
    I just love your blog, I spend a lot of my time browsing and browsing some more;) a little question: could I add some chia seeds to this recipe? Thanks, Lisa

  15. holly says:

    love them. I used prunes cos I didn’t have dates. Perfect.

  16. Jean Cruz says:

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  17. Anonymous says:

    Hi Jo
    These are a family favourite though I leave out the tahini and agave when I make them. I vary ingredients a little, always add macca and chia seeds – just lately made 1/2 mix with addition of glace ginger and the other half with orange rind, both yum!!!

  18. Do you have to use fresh dates or are dried dates OK?

  19. Jo Whitton says:

    Sharlene, you can use dried dates for this one – if you use raw you may need less. πŸ™‚

    Anon: Thanks for reminding me – I haven’t used agave for years, needed to update this recipe! I prefer pure maple syrup now πŸ™‚ Your version sounds lovely!

    Holly: Prunes is a great idea!

  20. […] I found this gluten-free, dairy-free recipe for Raw Chocolate made with cacao butter and raw cacao. I played around with the recipe, and this is what I came up with. It’s very simple, and […]

  21. […] based my recipe on this one (http://www.quirkycooking.com.au/2010/02/raw-cacao-treat-balls/). But I have modified it for a food processor and using Mike my Osteo’s advice to use coconut […]

  22. John says:

    wow yum!

  23. Kaye says:

    I have just made these and put them in the fridge to chill will take some to a friend’s to have after dinner tonight. They were so easy to make as well, used honey instead of maple syrup. Thank you.

  24. Adriana Stefanini says:

    Hello! can I substitute the dates with plum?

  25. Jill says:

    Yum. I used Turkish figs and macadamia S as tat is all I had. Really delicious treat. They are a gift for a girlfriend in training for a 220 km road bike race. I think they will be great energy treats for her

  26. Alison says:

    yummo, trick is not to eat them in one go! just found you and loving your receipes.

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