12/19/2012 09:18 EST | Updated 02/18/2013 05:12 EST

Vanilla date balls little bites of decadence to serve during holidays

These little bites of decadence are perfect for a hostess gift or to tote along to a cookie exchange. Make them ahead and keep them in the refrigerator for tasty treats to serve after dinner to guests and family members during the holiday season.

Vanilla Date Balls

Preparation Time: 10 minutes, plus cooling time for mixture

Baking Time: 12 minutes

250 ml (1 cup) Medjool dates, pitted and chopped (about 10 dates)

125 ml (1/2 cup) orange juice

50 ml (1/4 cup) butter

50 ml (1/4 cup) packed brown sugar

15 ml (1 tbsp) pure vanilla extract

375 ml (1 1/2 cups) chocolate cookie crumbs

125 ml (1/2 cup) sweetened flaked coconut

150 ml (2/3 cup) granulated sugar, for rolling

Line a baking sheet with parchment or wax paper and set aside.

In a small saucepan, combine dates, orange juice, butter and brown sugar. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and cook, stirring, for about 12 minutes or until very soft and thickened. Stir in vanilla; set aside to cool completely.

Stir in cookie crumbs and coconut until well combined. Place sugar on a plate or in a shallow bowl. Using rounded 5-ml (1-tsp) measuring spoon, scoop out mixture and roll into ball. Roll ball in sugar until completely coated and place on prepared baking sheet. Repeat with remaining mixture.

Place in refrigerator for at least 2 hours or until set and firm. Package in single layers in airtight container or cookie tins and keep refrigerated for up to 3 weeks.

Makes about 50 date balls.

Nutrition information per ball: 50 calories; 2 g fat; 9 g carbohydrate; 0.5 g fibre; 7 g sugars; 0.4 g protein; 30 mg sodium.

Source: Natural Delights Medjool Dates.