Date balls are simple to make and require no baking. Unbaked, refrigerated squares or balls that are made from dates and crushed biscuits are a South African favourite. For those of you who haven’t eaten date balls before, I can assure you that these delightfully sweet balls of dates, butter, sugar, and biscuit coated in coconut, are little tastes of heaven.
This little treat is very popular with Muslims as it is customary to eat dates at Iftar. Iftar (Arabic: إفطار ʾifṭār ‘breakfast’) is the evening meal when Muslims end their daily Ramadan fast at sunset. Muslims break their fast at the time of the call to prayer for the evening prayer.
This recipe can easily be doubled or trebled for larger quantities.
Makes 25 to 30 small balls
60 g / 2 oz butter, in cubes
50 g / 1 3/4 oz sugar
1 teaspoon instant coffee powder
125 g / 4 1/2 oz dates, pitted and chopped
100 g / 3 1/2 oz biscuits, crushed into small bits ( I used a plain butter biscuit, use Marie biscuits if available)
1 teaspoon vanilla essence or brandy
30 g / 1 oz coconut, fine powdered
Place the butter and sugar in a pan over medium low heat until the sugar has dissolved
Add the coffee powder and the dates and cook until the dates are melted
Remove from the heat
Allow to cool slightly
Add the biscuits and vanilla extract and mix well
Roll the mixture into balls with your hands and drop into a bowl of desiccated coconut These can be stored for weeks in a sealed container