For years I made these coconut clove balls at Christmas time. My sister-in-law in particular loved them and would ask me to make them. I don’t eat those balls now for two reasons. First, they contain milk, and consuming even small amounts of dairy makes me itch. Second, they contain lots of sugar, and while I do indulge for special occasions, I prefer to cut back on the amount and use natural sweeteners.
The modifications needed to suit those needs are significant and do change these balls, but the main flavor and texture (clove, coconut, and cashews) are still there.
In addition to the distinct clove flavor, I have always made these balls using my homemade vanilla extract, which I make using rum. So a little rum flavor is also added. If you think you would like that rum flavor, just add a little to the mixture when you stir in the vanilla (or try rum extract).
I used two types of coconut in this recipe. I used sweetened flaked coconut in the balls, partly because I was trying to not deviate from the original recipe too much. But I chose unsweetened coconut to roll the balls in. This cut down on sugar (the original version was rolled in sugar). And the unsweetened coconut is smaller and more fine than the sweetened version, making it a better coating.
Finally, it’s important to keep these balls cold as much as possible. They soften up much more quickly than my original version, but even when soft, they can be handled and taste delicious.
Coconut Clove Balls (Dairy Free)
- 1/2 cup almond milk
- 1/2 cup honey
- 2 Tablespoons coconut oil
- 7 ounces sweetened flaked coconut
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 1 cup raw unsalted cashew pieces
- unsweetened coconut for rolling
- In a saucepan, heat the almond milk, honey, coconut oil, coconut, ground cloves, and salt until boiling. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes.
- Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla and cashew pieces. Let cool until just warm.
- Transfer mixture to a food processor and process until the cashews are ground up and mixture flows freely, but don’t over process.
- Transfer to a container (or covered bowl) and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled.
- Roll tablespoon sized balls in coconut. Keep chilled until ready to serve.