From the photo, I realize that this sweet, no-bake treat might look like a cookie, but it's not. However, if you'd like to imagine it's a cookie while you're eating it, of course, that's perfectly fine too. :) What it is, actually, is a healthy, quick, and easy-to-make snack that's great to eat as a pre- or post-workout snack, and of course, that's why this recipe will be appearing in The Athlete's Cookbook. This recipe can literally be made in a matter of minutes! So, it's perfect for busy athletes, families on the go, or for those times when you just want to eat a quick snack without putting a lot of effort into the process. In other words, it's for those moments when both your brain and your stomach are screaming in unison, "FEED ME NOW!!!!" :)
During the recipe creation phase, the idea was to take the classic Mediterranean combination of dates and almonds and do something a bit more unexpected. Instead of just making these ingredients into another bonbon or energy bite recipe, (although you could certainly do that if you'd like!), I thought it'd be fun to turn them into a new kind of bite-sized snack. And thus, this is how the idea for this snack was born.
Date & Almond Clusters
1 c. Deglet Noor (common) dates, pitted*
1/4 c. slivered almonds
1/2 c. almond meal
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/8 tsp. salt
12 raw, unsalted almonds
Directions: Place all ingredients, minus the whole raw almonds, into a food processor and pulse until well combined. Spread a large piece of wax paper across a large, clean plate and set aside. Wet your hands first, then roll a piece of the dough in your palms to form a half-dollar sized ball, and place onto the wax paper. Repeat this process until all dough has been rolled into balls. Then rewet your hands and flatten each ball into a disc. Press an almond into each cluster, then refrigerate for 10-15 minutes to solidify. Serve and enjoy! Refrigerate any leftovers.
Yield: 12 clusters.
Chef's Notes: *Be sure to use super fresh and soft dates to avoid damaging your food processor. :)
If you're going to make a batch for future use, I'd advise wrapping each cluster in wax paper before storing them in a sealed container or resealable plastic bag in the refrigerator. Or alternatively, you can place a layer of wax paper on the bottom of a wide, shallow container, followed by a layer of clusters, and then another layer of wax paper, etc., and then seal it with a tightly fitting lid. Even after refrigeration, they can still be a bit sticky, so the wax paper will ensure that you won't have to pry them apart, or force yourself to eat 6 clusters at once. ;)