This Wednesday, Jews around the world will celebrate Tu B’shvat, the New Year for the trees. Traditionally, we celebrate by eating fruit and nuts that are native to the land of Israel (grapes, figs, pomegranates, olives and dates). Growing up, they’d always give out carob in school, which they called buxer (yiddish for carob). They were long black pods that were difficult to chew. If you made the effort, you’d be rewarded with a sweet taste. Most of the girls would just throw them away, but I’d always chew away at them. Nowadays, you can find many carob products on the market including coffee, chocolate, cookies and butters.
When I thought about what to make for Tu B’shvat, I wanted to use dates and figs, but also incorporate the chocolate flavor of carob. I decided to throw together some dried fruit truffles, or sugarplums. Sugarplums are balls that are made up of dried fruits, nuts and spices. Think of them as a kind of Larabar in the round!
You can make my traditional Tu B’shvat recipe, or come up with your own combination. To make sugarplums, you’ll need:
Dried fruit (dates, figs, apricots, prunes, raisins,craisins, cherries, apples)
Nuts (pecans, pistachios, almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts)
Seeds, optional (sunflower, pepitas, anise, fennel, caraway)
Spices (cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, mace, cloves, allspice, sea salt, cocoa, orange zest)
Sweetener, used to bind the mixture (honey, agave, maple syrup)
Butters, optional (almond, peanut, carob)
Extracts, optional (almond, vanilla, rum)
Alcohol, optional (rum, orange liquor, chocolate liquor)
Toppings (powdered sugar, turbinado sugar, coconut, cocoa, nuts, chocolate, sesame seeds)
For a healthy boost, add some oats or flax seeds.
Tu B’shvat Truffles
1 cup pitted medjool dates (about 10)
1 cup dried figs (I used 5 calimyrna and 10 mission)
1 cup almonds, pecans or walnuts
1/4 cup honey
2 tbsp carob powder*
1 tsp cinnamon
pinch of sea salt
1/2 cup turbinado sugar or ground coconut
Toast nuts in a 350 degree oven until fragrant. Remove pits from dates and add to food processor along with figs and nuts. Process until finely chopped. Add honey, carob powder, cinnamon and sea salt and pulse several times until the mixture begins to clump together and pull away from the sides of the bowl. If it is difficult to mix, add to a bowl and incorporate the spices by hand. Roll into bite size balls and dip into turbinado sugar (or ground coconut). Serve immediately or refrigerate for up to one month.
*carob powder is available at health food stores. If you cannot find it, you can use cocoa powder instead.
1 year ago: Mustard Roasted Dried Fruits