Chocolate-Dipped Fruit Nut Balls


I've missed you.

It's been a while.

Don't worry. I still love you. The holidaze have flown by, and here I am. January 1st. A fresh start. A new year.
A clean year. 2010 was so full, hard, and insanely busy. I'm not complaing, but I'm glad it's over. I'm ready for 2011.

So many good things are going to happen. I can just feel it.

I don't know where I'll be a year from now, and I'm starting to be okay with that. Being young and preparing for college or the next stage of your life or whatever is coming next, is strange. You feel like you're living in a sort of netherworld limbo. Which is unpleasant, sometimes, but it's also okay.
Lately, when I've looked at myself in the mirror I think, "I look different than I did last year." Perhaps it's only my imagination, supposing that my face looks different, but I really do feel that I've changed. Or something in me has changed. And that is very good.

I've decided that 2011 is the year of the prune.

Prunes. I love prunes. LOVE. Ordinary people make faces when you say "prune" they screw up their eyes and make retching noises. And that's because most people only experience prunes as prune juice, which is totally disgusting, and which normal people only drink when constipated. I too hate prune juice, but I especially hate it, because it has nothing to do with the wonderful reality of prunes. Prunes can be blissful. You should not eat prunes that are completely dry and leathery, you should only eat prunes that are plump and moist and sticky.

Prunes are in these strange fruit/chocolate/alien/nut/tasty/cookies. The recipe calls them Chocolate-Dipped Fruit Nut Balls, which is an apt, but rather grody name. You should make these and eat them and dream up some brilliant name in the middle of the night and then have me over, and I can polish off the rest of the fruit/chocolate/alien/nut/tasty/cookies.

They are also VEGAN and HEALTY, because they are simply DRIED FRUITS (i.e. prunes) and NUTS and CHOCOLATE. They are light and sophisticated and rich and luxerious. Did I mention there are prunes in them?

Happy New Year!

Chocolate-Dipped Fruit-Nut Balls
from who was inspired by
Gourmet, March 1986

Also, they improve with time. They are so devine.

1 cup walnuts
½ lb dried cherries
½ lb dried Turkish figs
½ lb dried apricots
½ lb dried pitted prunes
1-2 Tbs fruit juice, such as good apple cider, or fruit-flavored liqueur
Powdered sugar, for dredging
8 ounces good-quality semi-sweet chocolate, coarsely chopped

Place the walnuts in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade, and process them to chop finely. Remove the walnuts to a large mixing bowl.

Rinse the bowl of food processor, wipe it dry, and fill it with the dried fruit. Pulse the machine to chop the fruit finely. You don’t want to turn the fruit into a gummy purée, but you do want it to be chopped finely enough that there are no pieces larger than a pea. Remove the fruit to the bowl with the walnuts, and stir them to mix. Add 1 Tbs fruit juice or liqueur, and stir to combine. Pinch off a smallish wad of the fruit-nut mixture: when you roll it between your palms, does it hold together in a tight ball? If not, add a bit more juice or liqueur until it does.

Pour about ½ cup of powdered sugar into a small bowl; you can add more later, if needed. Pinching off little mounds of the fruit-nut mixture, shape them into 1-inch balls, roll each ball lightly in powdered sugar to coat, and place them on a baking sheet. Let the balls stand at room temperature, uncovered, for 24 hours.

Line a second baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat, and keep it close at hand. In the top of a double boiler set over barely simmering water, melt the chocolate, stirring occasionally, until smooth. Remove it from the heat. Using a teaspoon, plop and dab and shake chocolate onto half of each ball; you may want to do this over the sink, wasteful though it may be, rather than over the bowl of chocolate—otherwise your melted chocolate may be contaminated by sprinkles of powdered sugar. Place the balls on the lined baking sheet, and place them in the refrigerator until the chocolate has hardened. Tuck each ball into a small candy or cupcake cup, and store them in an airtight container, chilled, for up to 2 weeks.

Yield: About 50 balls.