I've been super busy lately, running around in a million different directions. So for me, that means grabbing whatever snack is on hand...chips, my daughter's goldfish crackers, etc. Not the healthiest options for sure! And I want to try and find a way for my daughter to branch out from goldfish crackers for snack time too. Enter these amazing apricot orange energy balls!
I know energy balls/bites are having a moment right now, and I can see why! They are easy to make, can be made ahead of time, and are convenient to grab and go without any further prep needed. I tried out one with oatmeal as an ingredient, and that did not go over well with my toddler. ("Mommy, there's a bad piece in here.") So, I came up with this recipe that is just dried fruit, nuts, and a bit of orange juice and zest for flavor. And I think the flavor combo appeals to adults too - the apricot is slightly tangy, the dates add sweetness, and the orange zest adds an aromatic freshness.
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Apricot Orange Energy Balls Ingredients
There are only four ingredients here! Dried apricots, pitted medjool dates, cashews (I used the roasted salted kind) and an orange. The orange does serve two purposes here - you will use both the juice and zest. If you want a sweeter energy ball, you can add a tablespoon of honey, but I didn't think I needed it - I quite enjoyed the slightly sweet, tangy flavor!
How to Make Apricot Orange Energy Balls
Since there are only four ingredients (five if you want to use honey), prep is pretty easy. But, it is important to incorporate the ingredients in a particular order, that way everything is chopped to the right size and incorporates easily.
Step One: Chop Cashews
I found it was easiest to chop the cashews first. That way you can set some aside to roll the balls in at the end, and you can control the consistency better than just adding them directly in with the dried fruit.
Just add the cashews into a food processor. I am using this awesome, super powerful one from Cuisinart that I talked more about in my Strawberry Honey Lime Mimosas post. Pulse the cashews in one second increments until they are evenly broken down into small pieces like this:
This took me about 9 one second pulses to get the cashews to this state.
Step Two: Blend The Dates and Apricots
Remove the cashews and set aside; make sure you divide out 6 tablespoons of the cashews to save for rolling at the end.
Add the apricots and dates back into the food processor and pulse until the fruit is chopped into rough pieces. This took me about 5 pulses and it should look something like this:
Step Three: Zest and Juice the Orange
Leave the fruit in the food processor for the moment and turn your attention to the orange. Zest the orange; I love using a Microplane for this, it is really the best tool for zesting I know! It makes the job so much easier because it creates a beautiful, bountiful, fine zest and does a really good job of just removing the outer portion of the peel (the white part is really bitter!).
Next cut the orange in half and squeeze out some juice into a small bowl or cup. You will only need one to two tablespoons.
Step Four: Add the Zest and Juice to the Fruit and Blend Again
Add two teaspoons of zest to the bowl of the food processor (for me, this was just about what I got from zesting my entire large orange) along with the juice. If you want soft, more moist energy balls, add two tablespoons of juice; if you want them to be a bit firmer, only add one tablespoon.
Pulse a few more times until the fruit is broken down even further. It should start to clump up in the bowl of the food processor, like this:
Adding the juice after the fruit is already broken down a bit helps the juice incorporate more easily.
Step Five: Add the Cashews Back In
Add all of the cashews back into the food processor except the six tablespoons you saved from earlier. You only need to pulse a couple more times until the mixture balls up, like this:
Step Six: Form the Apricot Orange Energy Balls and Roll in Cashews
Just grab a wad of the dough and form it into a ball. Place it on a bed of the chopped cashews from earlier. I made my balls about 1 ¼ to 1 ½ inches in diameter, and was able to get 16 balls from the batch. But feel free to make yours bigger or smaller than that! Roll all of your balls in the cashews and store in the refrigerator or freezer for whenever you need a quick, delicious and healthy snack! The balls will be squishy when you first roll them but will firm up as they chill.Print
Soft, tender energy balls with a deliciously tangy and slightly sweet apricot orange flavor. Takes only a few ingredients and a few minutes to make!
- 1 cup dried apricots
- 6 pitted medjool dates (see note 1)
- 1 orange
- 1 ¼ c. roasted salted cashews (see note 2)
- 1 tablespoon honey (optional if you want a sweeter ball)
- Place cashews in the bowl of a food processor and pulse in 1 second increments until the cashews are broken down into small pieces (for size reference, see the picture in step one of the blog post above). This should take about 9 - 10 pulses. Remove the cashews from the food processor and set aside. Separate out 6 tablespoons of the cashews to save for coating the balls at the end.
- Place the dates and apricots in the food processor and pulse in 1 second increments until the fruit is broken down into chunks (does not have to be perfectly even at this point). This should take about 5 pulses.
- Zest the orange and measure out 2 teaspoons. Cut the orange in half and squeeze out a couple tablespoons of juice into a small cup or bowl. Add the zest to the fruit in the food processor. Add the juice - if you want firmer balls, add only 1 tablespoon. If you want slightly moister balls, add 2 tablespoons. If you want some extra sweetness, add in 1 tablespoon honey (optional).
- Pulse the fruit, zest and juice mixture a couple more times until the fruit is broken down into smaller pieces and begins to clump up.
- Add in the cashews, except for the reserved 6 tablespoons. Pulse a few more times until the cashews are evenly incorporated and the mixture starts to form a ball.
- Dump the reserved cashews onto a plate. Roll the mixture into balls. You can make the balls any size; I made mine about 1 ¼ inches in diameter. Place the balls onto the plate and roll them around in the cashews until they are evenly coated. Store in the refrigerator or freezer. Balls will firm up as they chill.
- The dates I used were about 2 inches long; if you have smaller dates you can add an additional 1 - 2 dates.
- I used roasted, salted cashews but you can use any type. If your cashews are unsalted you may want to add in a pinch of salt to help enhance the flavors. Also, feel free to buy cashew pieces rather than whole; they are less expensive and it won't matter since you will be blending them into smaller pieces.
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