Despite the abundance of walnut trees in Slovakia, both feral and domestic, walnuts are still a precious commodity. Cracking the shells by hand is tedious and difficult work. Once I cleaned a couple kgs of walnuts to sell; by the end the tips of my fingers were reduced to shreds. At least, that’s what it felt like.
A word of warning on buying walnuts – most walnuts in a regular grocery store will be rancid. In fact, I’ve never bought a package of walnuts that were actually fresh. The oil in walnuts quickly goes old once the walnut has been broken, resulting in nuts that taste bad and are bad for you. Some places can order bulk nuts from this year’s harvest or you can take the time to crack them yourself (or bride a child). Store walnuts in the freezer or in a very cool dark place.
Raw walnuts can have a bitter aftertaste, which is neutralized by soaking and/or lightly roasting them. Soaking also renders walnuts more digestible, though it can change the texture of the walnuts. The no bake balls are rather sticky at first, so I rolled some in carob or flax meal. Any nut flour, cocoa powder, or coconut would also work. By the second day the balls are not so sticky, if they last that long.
Orange Walnut Cardamom Balls
200g (2 cups) walnuts, preferably soaked
70 g (3 Tbsp) honey
10 ml (2 tsp) orange zest
5 ml (1 tsp) ground cardamom
Preheat oven to 180C (350F), spread walnuts on baking sheet and bake for a few minutes until fragrant with a slightly sweet smell. If the walnuts have been soaked, they will take a little longer.
When cooled, pulse walnuts a few times in a food processor (those mini processors that come with a stick blender work too). You’ll want the walnuts chunkier than they will be in the final product, otherwise you’ll end up with walnut butter and cookies oozing oil.
Add the rest of the ingredients and mix in processor until the dough starts to stick together. Scoop out dough and roll into balls with your hands. If desired, roll in optional nut meal or tasty powder. Enjoy!
Do you like walnuts?