12 Days of Edible Gifts: Date Balls
Latkes, Russian tea cakes, and plenty of other treats remind me of the holidays — but nothing feels more like Christmas than making my mother's date balls. Every year for as long as I can remember, my mother has given friends, neighbors, and co-workers her date balls. When I was a child and my main role was that of date-ball-roller, I thought the whole process was a big production.
But once I grew up and learned to make them, I realized that these no-bake crispy confections actually aren't that hard to put together — which explains why they became a regular part of our holiday cookie circuit. If you're pressed for time to make an edible gift, or you want to set yourself apart at a cookie exchange, then wow your loved ones with these festive date balls. Get my mother's recipe when you
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 cup white sugar
1 cup chopped dates*
1 egg, beaten
1 cup chopped walnuts
2 cups puffed rice cereal, such as Rice Krispies
1/2 cup sweetened flaked coconut, for rolling
1/2 cup walnuts, finely chopped, for rolling
- In a medium saucepan, melt butter with sugar, then add chopped dates. Stirring very quickly, add in beaten egg. Bring mixture to a boil, stirring constantly, and allow to boil for 4 to 5 minutes.
- Remove from heat, and add chopped walnuts and puffed rice, mixing well. Spread mixture onto a heatsafe pan, and allow to cool. Cut into even, 1-inch sized cubes.
- Combine finely chopped walnuts and flaked coconut in a shallow dish. Grease hands with butter, and, using hands, shape each date square into an individual sphere, then roll it in the walnut-and-coconut mixture. Shake excess off.
Makes about 40 date balls.
*Note: Whole dates that have been chopped by hand do not make a sufficient substitute. Look for sweetened, pre-cut dates in the dried fruit aisle of your supermarket.