If you follow me on Instagram, you already saw the first trial of this amazing concoction! It all started with a failed attempt at homemade Nutella and ended with my new favorite after-dinner-taste-bud-sensation! Let’s skip all of the failed Nutella stories and head right into this amazing fudge.
The first thing to know about this fudge is that it isn’t fudge. That’s a little bit irritating of me…but according to Wikipedia, fudge is made from three basic ingredients: butter, milk, and sugar. I left all three out of this recipe! But I still have the audacity to call it fudge. Just look at the texture of these! That is fudge! I don’t care what Wikipedia has to say about it. This is vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free, and refined-sugar-free fudge!
Another reason I am calling this fudge is because I know some of you got all excited when you saw the word fudge. If I were to have titled this post “hazelnut, date, cacao powder mash” you probably would have gone elsewhere. And I want you here, enjoying these bite-size delights with me. So fudge it is!
The first time I made this, it was absolute perfection. The taste and the texture were just perfect. But I didn’t record how I did it (of course). I was trying to make Nutella, after all. I went through six batches of this stuff before I settled on a method that worked. Six increasingly frustrating batches. And after all the many minutes spent in front of my food processor, waiting for the #*&^% hazelnuts to butter, I realized what was at the root of my frustration. (I have a habit of getting philosophical as I wait for things to blend, boil, bake, or sear.)
I did it once. Why can’t I do it again? Could there be a more basic frustration in my life? I did it once. And now I am groping in the dark to recreate, re-experience, relive what I have already successfully done, once.
I was happy at one moment. I obviously did that. I am responsible for the fact that I am happy. Check. But now (any given moment), I am not happy. My positive, life-affirming internal states seem to evaporate into mist or, at times, more assertively pop like a balloon, leaving very few clues to where they went or how I can return to them.
To battle this truism, in perfect Hansel & Gretel style, I try to leave myself breadcrumbs each and every time I find myself in a state of balance, happiness, and satisfaction. Because I know, just like every other time, I will not maintain this state forever. So I try to leave my less-enlightened self breadcrumbs/clues. A record of sorts: This is what I am thinking. This is what I am doing. These are the people I am with. Etc… But the clues never seem to help or bring me closer to peace when I am frustrated and upset. Not to mention my more-enlightened self is a horrible note taker! When I am feeling balanced and happy, I get a bit arrogant. “Hey, I’ve got this well-being stuff knocked…this is easy…” and other wrong-minded idealistic balderdash. This is about the time that I walk face-first into a metaphoric spiderweb (a la Renee at Will Frolic For Food) and “tweak the @#$% out,” as Renee perfectly put it.
I can put myself in the same environment, surround myself with the same people, repeat the same thoughts (all mantra-like), to no avail. When I am in that well, peaceful state, it seems easy and completely without effort. And when I am not, it seems like I need the stars to align, while hopping on one foot, and balancing plates on my chin to ever have a hope of returning to that feeling of peace.
Is there a technology? Is there a way back to ourselves that can be replicated each and every time we veer off course? The only answer that I have found is self-expression. I know when I am self-expressed (in any and all forms), I am well and at peace. The only problem is that when I am upset, the last thing I want to do is express myself. Whether it be talking, writing, cooking, or whatever. I want to shut-up, retreat, and express nothing. This is why my less-enlightened self needs those breadcrumbs! And notes, AHEM! Because this version of myself needs a dunce cap. A big one, that falls over my eyes…and a stool in the corner…that faces a wall.
Perhaps my desire to discover a method, to nail something down and keep it for good, is part of my problem. Trying to capture an experience and keep it forever might in fact be THE issue. When I am most happy, it is usually because I have let go, not because I have managed to hang on to something.
That’s as far as I got while my nuts blended. Once I start eating, the philosophical brain shuts-off, and things get a bit id (think Freud, not typo), which is maybe why I like eating so much and why those around me like to keep me fed!
Thanks for being here. If you try this fudge, let me know how you like it and how the recipe turns out. And finally, I just launched my Facebook page (after a long and shall we say challenged relationship with social media, if you’re interested, you can read about that here).
- 2 Cups hazelnuts (skin removed)
- 1 Cup almonds (I used pre-roasted and unsalted)
- ½ Teaspoon salt
- 3 Tablespoons cacao powder
- 4 Tablespoons date paste (1 cup of Deglet dates blended)
- ¼ Cup almond butter
- ¾ Cups dairy free dark chocolate chips
- ¼ Cup fresh ground espresso
- Line a 9 x 9 baking pan or dish with parchment paper. Set aside.
- In a separate pan, Bake hazelnuts at 350F for 8-10 minutes. Watch them closely to prevent burning. If your hazelnuts still have their brown skins, peel them off once they have finished roasting. Don't worry about getting every last piece of skin off. (You can leave them raw if you prefer; roasting draws out the oil in the nut and makes it easier to transform them into a butter).
- While the nuts roast, blend one rounded cup of Deglet dates until they reach a paste consistency. Set aside. (I always like to use 2 cups of dates anytime I am making something with dates. 2 cups gives the food processor something to dig into when it blends and I think the result is better; you will only need to use 1 cup worth of dates for this recipe, but you might want to blend 2 cups worth and reserve the extra for another project.)
- Place slightly cooled hazelnuts, almonds, and salt into food processor. Blend until you have a nut butter consistency. This will take about 10 minutes and requires a bit of patience. Don't get discouraged, your powdery nuts will turn to a creamy nut butter consistency, it just takes time.
- Once you have a nut butter consistency, add in the cacao powder and blend until fully incorporated.
- With the food processor on, drop in your date paste bit by bit. The mixture will become thicker and should clump together when pressed between your fingers.
- To add a final bit of creaminess, add ¼ cup of smooth almond butter and blend for another minute or so.
- Scoop your fudge into your prepared 9 x 9 pan and loosely spread so that the fudge is evenly distributed across the pan. Do not press down.
- Pour chocolate chips evenly across the top of the fudge and now press down firmly creating an even and compact top. The fudge will be warm and the chocolate will start to melt into the fudge (this is a good thing!).
- Sprinkle your espresso grounds evenly over the top, using your hands to distribute.
- Place a piece of parchment paper snuggly over the top of the fudge and place in the freezer for 20 minutes.
- Remove and serve. Store covered in the refrigerator.