Easter is nearly here, the perfect opportunity to enjoy these healthy hot cross bun bliss balls that have all the same cozy flavours you're used to in a traditional bun.
I'm wary of falling into the same tired old clichés, but where has this year gone already? Christmas doesn't feel like it was all that long ago, and now Easter is just around the corner. I do admit though, that aside from being slammed by a change of season head cold (which wasn't fun), I am enjoying the change of season, cooler nights and different focus on food that the change of season brings. See ya later salad, I'm ready for soup.
And can we get excited about Easter? Yes we can! This year will be the first Easter my littlest girl will remember. She's a little confused about the concept, and why oh why why why will there be chocolate eggs at Easter? But I'm sure the 'whys' will be surpassed by chocolatey glee soon enough.
Me, I do love chocolate but at Easter I'm more of a hot cross bun girl. The more fruit the better. There's nothing more autumn to me than warm hot cross buns with a stiff black coffee for breakfast (yes, Easter's an autumn thing in New Zealand).
I can definitely have too much of a good thing and have been guilty of eating my body weight in hot cross buns some years. I know how the right spice combination can take you where you need to go though (see carrot cake overnight oats and pumpkin pie spiced breakfast smoothie), so I figured the same approach would also apply to hot cross buns served in a different, healthier form.
Take me to the hot cross buns
What are the key flavour elements in hot cross buns? Sweet spices and dried fruit, which lend themselves perfectly to bliss balls.
The key spice here is mixed spice, bumped up with a little extra cinnamon and ground cloves. Mixed spice is a British spice blend commonly available in New Zealand, containing ground coriander seed, cassia, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, ginger and cloves. I'm not sure if an equivalent blend exists in the United States? If not, and you're feeling motivated, you could make your own mixed spice blend based on this article.
The fruits of the day are sultanas and dried mixed peel. I love the sweet and sharp citrusy bite mixed peel gives, but it is generally candied so leave it out if you're minimising sugar.
Hot cross bun spiced bliss balls
I start these bliss balls by processing the spices with ground almonds, oats and coconut until fairly fine - a combination I found worked really well in these passionfruit bliss balls. Once the dried fruit is added, along with orange juice and coconut oil as the wet, binding elements, the mixture comes together in a sticky ball that's ready to roll into lovely little bliss balls.
I didn't worry about adding a cross to these, but if you wanted to you could try piping crosses with melted white chocolate or a basic frosting mixture of icing sugar (powdered sugar), coconut oil or butter and water. A sugar free cross would be trickier, strand coconut pressed into a cross shape maybe?
- ½ cup ground almonds (almond meal)
- ½ cup rolled oats (certified gluten free if required)
- ½ cup dessicated coconut
- 1 ½ tsp mixed spice
- ½ tsp ground cinnamon
- ¼ tsp ground cloves
- ¼ cup sultanas
- 2 tbsp mixed peel (optional - add extra sultanas if not using mixed peel)
- ¼ cup orange juice (freshly squeezed if possible)
- 2 tbsp coconut oil (melted if solid)
- Put dry ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and blitz until fairly fine.
- Add dried fruit and wet ingredients and process until the mixture comes together in a rough ball.
- Roll heaped teaspoonfuls of mixture into balls. Refrigerate until firm.
- Store in the fridge or freezer.