While my family is know for some specific family dishes, Parick's family is known for their snack items both savory and sweet. This year Patrick's mother prepared peanut butter stuffed crackers that were then dipped in chocolate, fruit cake cookies, pretzel rolos cookies, and my personal favorite, date balls. I had to have the recipe. When I found out we were doing Let's Lunch on festive treats, I thought it would be the perfect one to share.
Now if you've never seen a date ball, I would describe it as a a crunchy brown and white snowball. On second thought, I should just show you a picture.
After trying the date balls one year, I couldn't imagine why coconut and dates aren't used together more often. They pair extremely well but somehow I can't imagine them in any other dessert. The texture of the date balls are unlike any other cookie that I've had. The flaky coconut, the crunchy rice cereal, the nuts, the chewy dates... They are amazing. And they are the perfect snack for a cold winter day, such as the one we had en route to Vashon Island recently.
Together with Patrick's sister and her boyfriend, we boarded the ferry bound for Vashon.
Once on the island, we met up with a few of our gluten-free friends at The Hardware Store.
From left to right: Lisa and her husband Tim (and two cute pups Lulu and Phoebe) from Gluten-Free Canteen, Jeanne from The Art of Gluten-free Baking, Patrick and me of Zest Bakery (duh), and the adorable Lu and her mom Shauna of Gluten-free Girl and the Chef. Not featured is Shauna's amazing husband Danny who, at the time, worked as a chef at the Hardware Store and prepared us all the amazing gluten-free food! THS has an extensive gluten-free menu. For the first time, we weren't eyeballing the plates on other tables wishing we could nab a forkful. We loved the gluten-free calamari, fried chicken, and fish and chips. Honestly we couldn't tell any of the items were gluten-free. Truly an amazing feat. And for dessert, of course we sampled some gluten-free pies in flavors of pecan and pumpkin.
Back home, I can't stop salivating over that dinner and remembering the wonderful company. Now every time I make these coconut balls I will remember that evening and the wonderful time we had visiting friends and family in Seattle.
coconut date balls
**Special thanks to Patrick's mom Donna, for this recipe!
Bring butter and sugar to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 2-3 minutes. Add 8 oz chopped dates and stir, about 2-3 minutes. In a heat-safe bowl, mix together egg, milk, vanilla, and salt. Temper the eggs by whisking in 1/4 cup of the butter sugar mixture. Whisk fast so the eggs don't cook. Add the egg mixture back into the butter and sugar, whisking constantly. Remove from heat. Fold in nuts (optional) and rice krispies. Scoop out spoonfuls, and roll into small balls. Roll balls in sweetened coconut. Store in an airtight container to keep fresh.
Can't get enough? Check out what the other Let's Lunch-ers made:
- Patrick Glee of : Baby Pecan Pies
- A Cook and Her Books: Not My Mama's Black-Eyed Peas & Greens
- Cowgirl Chef: Lime-Chipotle Carrots
- Burnt-Out Baker: Eating Butterflies: Festive Treats for Ordinary Days
- Spice Box Travels: Trinidadian Baked Pastelles
- HapaMama: Of Loaves and Fruitcakes
- Free Range Cookies: Bake Me a Salad
- Monday Morning Cooking Club: Potato Latkes
- Joe Yonan: Holiday Dishes at the Maine Homestead