The creamy caramel-iness of dates, combined with vanilla, salt and cocoa, have a texture and flavor incredibly similar to chocolate ganache. Perfect for truffles, like the wonderful Brazilian dessert Brigadiero. But why stop at dates? There are plenty of dried fruits that offer myriad color, nutrients and flavors. In this case, I used leftover dried cranberries as the center of Brigadiero-inspired Valentine treats, and this recipe works with many favorites–apricots, raisins, dried plums... —Lauren Bradford
Dates, pitted and de-stemmed.
Unsweetened cocoa powder, plus more for dusting.
In a food processor, pulse the dried cranberries until the mixture balls up like a dough, place between two pieces of parchment paper and roll to 1/4″ thickness. With the small heart-shaped cookie cutout, cut out heart shapes, re-roll the scraps and keep making hearts until the mixture is used up, then set aside.
In a food processor, place the remaining ingredients (except the sprinkles) in three batches, pulsing until a ball forms. Place each ball into one large bowl and knead for a minute to get everything blended together.
Place this second mixture between two pieces of parchment paper and roll to 1/4″ thickness. This mixture is denser than the one with dried cranberries, it will take a little more time.
Use a sharp knife to make a rectangle from the date mixture, and set the scraps aside to make brigadero (see step 8 below).
Use the same knife to mark the rectangle into 9 separate pieces, then cut the pieces completely. Place a heart-shaped cutout in the center of each rectangle and cut out the piece, placing it aside with the cranberry hearts.
In the place of the date hearts, place a cranberry heart inside each of the date rectangles and smooth out.
Next, coat each date heart and any remaining cranberry hearts in cocoa powder, dust off and set aside.
Lastly, divide the remaining date mixture into equal pieces and roll each piece into balls. Then, roll each ball in chocolate sprinkles
Freeze the pieces for an hour, then place in air-tight containers. They’re ready to serve, and also hold up well in the fridge and freezer. Please note that you should only store these treats for 1 week if you refrigerate, or 2 months if you freeze.