Have you ever noticed that each judge on Chopped has at least one pet peeve – feedback that they seem to give over and over? Maneet Chauhan’s is raw cayenne. I feel like I’ve seen at least 8 episodes where she criticizes a chef for not cooking the spices properly, or for adding cayenne right before the buzzer. She hates the taste of raw cayenne!
I totally see where she’s coming from, but I have a dirty secret: I happen to really, really enjoy raw cayenne. Okay, maybe not in curries…you definitely gotta bloom your spices there. But sprinkled on fruit, gluten-free flatbread, fries, plantains … I have to say I really like the intensity you get when it’s raw!
Especially when it’s coating these black sesame – date balls. They were born when I decided to attempt a no-bake black and white cookie (made from black and white sesame seeds!) and then got distracted after my first attempt at the black half because I started thinking how delicious my dough would be rolled in a spice mixture. The cookie idea got shelved, and instead I went for some fiery snacks.
I’m glad I did – the black sesame, date, and raisin mixture is interesting on its own, but after being rolled in cinnamon, cayenne, and crunchy black and white sesame seeds, it really pops! Plus the snack balls are so pretty … and a cinch to put together! They are also nice and healthy – cinnamon and cayenne have a load of health benefits I won’t get into here (because the list is long – google it if you are interested!) and the balls are sweetened only with dates and raisins.