There was an lunchtime book club meeting in just a few short hours. I was about to head to work and had 20 minutes, tops, to assemble my potluck contribution. I wanted something to nourish my fellow readers and, hopefully, to reference the lovely book we’d be discussing: The Black Penguin.
In the book, author Andrew Evans challenges himself to get from Washington, D.C. to Antarctica, nearly entirely by bus. He does this—all 12,000 miles of it—despite cows in the road, aggravating customs agents, a rock slide in the Andes, and one beer-guzzling bus driver tearing across flooded roads.
Evans’s editor required that the journey be completed in less than a month and a half—a tight deadline for someone at the mercy of bus schedules and the whims of the open road. If he could cross a hemisphere that fast, I could whip up a cold dessert, fast. Right?
I had shredded coconut stuffed in the back of the freezer. It made me think of snow. I had bits and bobs of nutty things. Almond meal. Nutella. Peanut butter. Coconut oil. I now had only 15 minutes.
A quick Google search led me to the land of delicious no-bake bites (thank you to The Big Man’s World and Happy Foods Tube). A vision was swirling together. I grabbed the food processor. I blended. I shaped truffle balls, dipped them in snowy coconut and then applied a South Pole treatment in the freezer.
I was pretty sure any penguin would approve.
And so, I give you:
No-Bake South Pole Truffles
A note on ratios: Most of the volume of the truffles will be taken up by nuts, coconut and, if you use it, dried fruit. So, no matter what your individual ratios are, try to start with about two cups of nut- and fruit-based ingredients to guarantee a substantial quantity of truffles.
Nuts. Roasted and ground into a powder in a food processor.
Almond meal. If you have it and want to use it in addition to the nuts. Because I think roasted nuts taste a thousand times better than raw nuts, I toasted the almond meal in the toaster oven.*
Nutella and/or speculoos.
Coconut. I had shredded coconut, but found the shreds too big for creating a snowy coating on the balls. I pulsed it a few times in my food processor.
Cream. Or yogurt. Or some melted butter. Or, skip this step if you don’t do dairy. And keep an eye on the liquid ingredients because too much liquid could make it hard for the balls to hold their shape.
Coconut oil or milk Possibly, instead of cream. Or do both!
Spices and other flavors. Cinnamon? Nutmeg? Vanilla? Cocoa powder? Any and all would be divine.
Dried fruit. Dates? Raisins? Optional, but they’d certainly give a little extra body and texture to the truffles!*
Anything else that sounds good to you. Seriously. As long as you still end up with a pasty "dough" that can be rolled into balls, you’re good.
1. Roast the nuts, if you’d like. Almond slices can be roasted on the stove top, stirring frequently (otherwise they burn). Pecans or walnuts are best roasted on a baking sheet at 350 degrees for 10 or so minutes (with some stirring halfway through). For this rendition, I started with some almond meal. To toast it, I just created a flat layer on a plate and hit “toast” on the toaster oven.
2. Pulverize the nuts. We’re going for a very fine texture to keep the truffles smooth. But if you want things crunchier, this isn’t as important. Add the dried fruit here too, if using.
3. Set aside the blended nuts and fruit.
3. Process the shredded coconut. The pieces of coconut straight out of the bag were too big. I dumped them in my mini food processor and pulverized them so they better resembled a snowy fluff.
4. Set aside a shallow bowl’s worth of coconut for coating the snow balls. The remaining coconut can go into the bowl with the other ingredients.
5. Mix! Combine the coconut with the ground nuts, peanut butter, Nutella and/or Speculoos. For ease of mixing, do this inside your food processor.
6. Add more yummy things. Cocoa powder? Cinnamon? Nutmeg? Vanilla?
7. Add a splash of cream or a dollop of yogurt if you’d like.
8. Stir and evaluate. If the mixture looks thick enough to hold its shape in a ball, you’re just about there! To thicken, add more dry ingredients, like nut meal, dried fruit or coconut. To thin and make it more pliable, add more cream or another liquid fat.
9. Roll into balls with your hands, then roll the balls in the ground coconut mixture. (If you run out of coconut for rolling, no matter! Just use any combination of cinnamon, sugar, powdered sugar, cocoa, or some mix of all of the above for giving the balls a fine coating.)
10. Love them while they last. It won’t be long! Definitely not the 40 days it took Andrew Evans to get from Washington, DC to the southern tip of Argentina, where he boarded a ship for Antarctica. But the snowy truffles could be helpful for making friends on the bus!