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Walnut-date truffles

2016 February 12
by Rachel Turiel

I personally am famous for botching these commercial holidays with my own angsty over-analyzation of food coloring and crappy candy and paper waste and obligatory spending. Which is where you could say something gentle and loving to me like, “hey, look how excited Rosie is to deliver her handmade cards!” And truly, it was so sweet watching Col and Rose create their own Valentines Day cards for their classmates, like good little American kids who didn’t actually have roadkill gumbo in their lunch thermoses.


Walnut-date truffles. Absolutely crazily scrumptious. And easy.

I’ve been noticing lately how much my kids want to be normal. They love the cauliflower pizza crust I make, but they desperately want to pretend it doesn’t have cauliflower in it. (It has become an issue we skirt around; apparently we can openly discuss politics, religion and sex, but not cauliflower). Rose walked in the door with a friend recently and sighed when she saw Dan at the table carving up a roadkill deer, as if the night before she hadn’t been a baby bird squawking, open-mouthed, for that very same animal’s grilled backstrap. She is concerned with having a Daddy who might at any point smell like deer brains.


As Col and Rose get older, they’ve become a little more heartbreakingly self-conscious. There’s no more cross-dressing and parading around the house. The backyard is no longer a nudist colony for small, ecstatic people. They believe there are “boy colors” and “girl colors.” It’s a little heartbreaking (and seems at least partially due to the 2 days/week they go to the fishbowl of self-comparing that public school can be), but also, I realize, a normal part of growing up.


Col and his buddy Cedar; Just another normal night of cross-dressing fun.

I console myself with the knowledge that Dan was a toe-the-line jock for much of his school days, and now he’s looking for any opportunity to dance around wearing elk hoof-rattles on his ankles while singing one of his self-composed hunting chants.

I think I know how this works. Kids need to explore what shimmers unfamiliarly on the horizon (which in Rose’s case are the single-serve, peel-top, key lime pie yogurts while a half-gallon of homemade yogurt appears wholesomely and routinely in our fridge every week.) Col and Rose will bob out into new territory while an invisible, symbolic tether anchors them always to home, to family. They will voyage out seeking normalcy, and we will lovingly wave from our unconventional home, while elk and deer bones simmer on the stove. And they will circle back around, eventually.


These truffles are safe for Valentines Day; they’re completely normal by anyone’s standards. No masquerading kale bits, or bone broth-soaked walnuts. They are insanely delicious: nutty and date-sweetened on the inside, with rich, silky chocolate on the outside.

Walnut-Date Truffles

Ingredients (makes about 16 truffles; takes approx 30 minutes to make)

For the filling:

1 1/2 cups pitted dates

1 cup walnuts

1/2 cup shredded coconut

1-2 TBSP melted coconut oil (butter would probably be OK)

For the chocolate coating:

1/2 cup cocoa powder

1/4 – 1/2 cup cream or half and half (add slowly).

1/4 cup sugar

4 TBSP butter (or coconut oil)

pinch of salt

OR you can melt a chocolate bar


Blend walnuts, dates and coconut flakes in food processor until it becomes a uniform paste-like consistency. Roll into firm, small balls and place on cookie sheet covered with wax paper. Next, gently heat the butter, cocoa powder, sugar, cream and salt, whisking as it melts. Remove from heat and dip each walnut-date ball into the chocolate, using a spoon. When balls are coated with chocolate, place on wax paper. Place truffles in fridge for one hour. Store truffles in fridge.

Filling ingredients:


The shaping:


I can “pass” for normal!truffs8



16 Responses leave one →
  1. Molly permalink
    February 12, 2016

    Lucinda is such a fangirl of your tramp jumping, rat loving Rose. Two generations of interfamily fandom. We will try the truffles this weekend, with whatever nuts are in the house, and dream of a world where all kids circle back around as soon as is comfortably possible.

  2. Susan S permalink
    February 12, 2016

    This feeling that some other lifestyle must be “normal” and ours is “not normal” is common, regardless of the home-base lifestyle. When I was a kid, I craved what I saw of my best friend’s free-form hippie home life with it’s lentil stew dinners, bedtime whenever you were tired and being encouraged to have opinions and dreams, even if they weren’t “realistic.” She craved what she saw of my conservative, structured home life, with its steak and potatoes dinners, 8:30 bedtime and a new car every 2 years. I think your kids will likely come to the realization sooner than some folks that “normal” is determined by each person, drawing from what they find in their environment that fits and feels right. That involves some trial and error, but the less we can judge and hurt each other in the process of finding what’s right, the better. I think your kids are well ahead in that game. :-)

    • Rachel Turiel permalink
      February 14, 2016

      “I think your kids will likely come to the realization sooner than some folks that “normal” is determined by each person, drawing from what they find in their environment that fits and feels right. That involves some trial and error, but the less we can judge and hurt each other in the process of finding what’s right, the better.”
      Well said, Susan!

  3. February 12, 2016

    I Love You!

  4. February 12, 2016

    It wasn’t until years after I came to this city (and discovered how hard and expensive it is to live here) that I understood what lured me here, which is that no one particularly cares if you’re “normal” or not, because in a city of 8 million, who knows what normal might be anyway. Though whether or not other people care might not have much influence over how much one cares oneself about being normal.

    And thank you for the recipe, ohmygoodness YUM! Happy Valentines Day!

  5. February 12, 2016

    So true. I wonder, though, if growing up in a place that like Berkeley alters the equation somehow? Do Berkeley kids come home wondering why they didn’t get homemade Kombucha for lunch instead of store-bought? The answer may or may not influence my decision to continue holding on in this insane place that I also happen to love passionately.

  6. Ellen permalink
    February 12, 2016

    Truffles sound delicious. And those wonderful kids only get more wonderful as they go through all these changes.

  7. gretchen permalink
    February 12, 2016

    i must try one myself to believe you didn’t hide any kale tidbits in there. or stella should try one. she’d detect a veggie no matter how small.

    • Rachel Turiel permalink
      February 13, 2016

      Stella *has* tried one already. She’s one of my favorite (and most enthusiastic) people to serve my homemade creations to.

  8. Kayleigh permalink
    February 12, 2016

    …oh wait. I can’t say that until I’ve tasted one.

  9. Kayleigh permalink
    February 12, 2016

    I, personally, like the thought of “not normal”. Especially Rose’s kind of “not normal”. Also my type ofd “not normal”.

  10. Marlene permalink
    February 13, 2016

    I LOVE that you think those truffles are normal by anyone’s standard!!! (excuse the triple exclamation marks. I am really excited.) (And also, despite other linguistic strengths, forever baffled by the intersection of punctuation and parentheses). (See?) I think they look lovely, and want one, and (unfortunately) work with many (mostly…) folks who would look at them askance. I do work part-time, however, and have some free time to concoct these myself, and though they look suspiciously good for me, they also look decidedly decadent. Thanks!

    • Rachel Turiel permalink
      February 13, 2016

      Ha! Funny, now that I think about it, these truffles could be looked at as filled with hamster food, or not even in the ballpark of “truffle.” And parenthesis and punctuation is something I hope to master in the near future. :)

  11. Heather permalink
    February 18, 2016

    Is Col suddenly a teenager?! He looks so much like a young man in the first photo.

  12. Esther permalink
    March 21, 2016

    Hi there.. Just wanted to comment: BackStrap is THE best…. Oh my… Only those that are in the know, know. We have used roadkill also, delicious… Of course we hunt too, and grow our own beef. But it has been awhile since we have had back strap… Made my mouth water when you mentioned it in this post.. Enjoyed reading at your blog!

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