I have fond memories of making peanut butter balls with my mom and sister every holiday season. The women in my family are all big peanut butter and chocolate fans, so it seems like a natural holiday dessert to splurge on. In fact, I know when they see this post they’ll be running to the kitchen to make this version! You can’t beat how easy peanut butter balls are to throw together during those hectic last-minute preparations.
This year, I came up with a lighter version of my childhood favourite. Rather than using 2 cups of powdered sugar and plenty of butter like the old recipe, I turned to a few lighter ingredients to do the same job.
This version contains much less sweetener than classic recipes, but I promise you won’t even notice the difference, especially once the chocolate coating is in place!
The secret to achieving a similar dough (without all the powdered sugar) is a little trick I picked up from making homemade nut butter in my food processor. I noticed when I added too much maple syrup into the machine, it would cause the nut butter to seize up (i.e., get really thick). After that point, no matter how much I processed the nut butter, it never returned back to it’s creamy, drippy state. A similar thing happens when you add water to melted chocolate.
For this recipe, I used this knowledge to my advantage by stirring the peanut butter and maple syrup vigorously, until the mixture “seized” and thickened up. Well, it worked like a charm! All I had to do after that was add a couple tablespoons of coconut flour for additional thickening powers. Coconut flour is quite dense and drying, so just a little bit did the trick. No powdered sugar necessary. Yes!
Tip: If you are new to coconut flour and don’t want to buy a whole bag, try buying a small amount from a bulk food bin. I’m pretty sure Bulk Barn carries coconut flour.
At first, when you stir in the maple syrup, it will look quite runny and you’ll think there’s no way it’s going to thicken up, but it does. Just keep on stirring! It took me probably 30 seconds of stirring and letting it sit a couple minutes helps it firm up too (the coconut flour absorbs a lot of moisture). The timing will depend on how thick (or thin) your brand of peanut butter is (I only recommend using 100% all-natural peanut butter with nothing else added). It’s quite possible you might need a touch more (or less) coconut flour than what I used. I’m not sure if other sweeteners will work the same way that maple syrup does, so I can’t vouch for the results if you swap out the maple syrup.
Once it thickened up, I stirred in some sea salt to enhance the flavours and rice crisp cereal for a crunchy texture. Oh my….simply irresistible!!
Watch them disappear almost as quickly as they were made.
Peanut Better Balls
These peanut butter balls forgo the powdered sugar and butter, and instead use a few lighter ingredients using only a fraction of the sweetener compared to traditional recipes. You'll wonder how you ever lived without this recipe around the holidays! It's quick to throw together and makes about 16-20 balls that will fill a platter for a holiday party. For mess-free finger food, place the balls in mini cupcake liners.
- 1 cup 100% natural peanut butter (smooth or crunchy)
- 3.5-4 tablespoons pure maple syrup, to taste (see note)
- 1-3 tablespoons coconut flour, only if needed
- fine grain sea salt, to taste (I used 1/4 teaspoon)
- 6 tablespoons gluten-free rice crisp cereal
- 3/4 cup dark chocolate chips (I use Enjoy Life)
- 1/2 tablespoon coconut oil
- Stir the jar of peanut butter well before using. In a large bowl, mix together the peanut butter and maple syrup vigorously, for 30-60 seconds, until it thickens up. It will go from runny to thick during this time.
- Stir in the coconut flour until combined (if your PB is dry, you might be able to skip this step or only use half). We're looking for a texture that isn't too sticky, but not too dry either. Let it sit for a couple minutes to firm up as the coconut flour will continue to absorb moisture with time. Add a touch more coconut flour if necessary. Or if it's too dry, add a touch more syrup.
- Add salt to taste and stir in the cereal.
- Shape into small balls (I made about 17).
- In a small pot, add the chocolate chips and coconut oil and heat over low heat, stirring frequently. Once half the chips have melted, remove from heat and stir until completely smooth.
- With a fork, dip the balls into the melted chocolate. Tap off excess chocolate on the side of the pot and place the ball on a plate or cutting board lined with parchment. Repeat for the rest. Save any leftover melted chocolate for later.
- Place balls in the freezer for around 6-8 minutes until mostly firm.
- Dip a fork into the leftover melted chocolate and drizzle it on top of the balls to create a "sophisticated" design like the baking diva you are.
- Freeze the balls for another 10-15 minutes, until the chocolate is completely set. If you can wait that long, you win life.
1) I'm not sure if other liquid sweeteners will work in this recipe (and firm up the peanut butter the same way as maple syrup does), therefore I can't recommend any. A reader did tell me that agave nectar worked for her though! 2) I recommend only using 100% natural peanut butter for this recipe. You just want to see roasted peanuts on the label (and maybe salt, if it’s salted). The no-stir kinds made with oil and sugar might not work the same way. The PB I used was very drippy. If your PB seems dry, you probably won't need to use all of the coconut flour.
Have I missed something? Where do add the rice crisp cereal? ?
Hi Jean, Just after you stir the PB mixture for a minute or so. Hope this helps!
You had me at “like the baking diva you are”. Can’t breathe because I’m laughing so hard. Oh you bet Im going to try these now! Thanks for the laughter and recipe. Neither can be underestimated!
Take care! Sarah
haha so glad it brought a laugh!!
I am going to try this with pistachio butter, and may try a more neutral liquid sweetener (probably Lyle’s golden syrup).
These are home made Reese’s PB cups. For all the rolling and dipping it is not worth the effort. Maybe mixing in crackers for crunch, or dried fruit in the middle for interest would make it special.
My hubby, who calls anything breakfast food that can take 2 tablespoons of PB on it and could be called penautbutterholic was not impressed.
I actually reduce the maple syrup by half and these are still so yummy. Thank you for all of the great recipes.
I made these treats for a vegan friend… Used Trader Joe almond butter instead of PB, added nutritional yeast from a different-but-similar recipe, and left out the coconut flour: it was not needed, and I would’ve had to buy a big sack of it. Really appreciated the magic that happened when I mixed runny nut butter and runny maple syrup, stirred a bit, and they turned into something as firm and workable as Play-Doh.
I just finished making these awesome Easter Eggs for the second year in a row. Everyone absolutely loved them last year and have requested them again. I did not added the coconut flour as my peanut butter (Kirkland Natural Creamy Peanut Butter) from Costco, has no sugar or salt added and it is really thick once the maple syrup is added. Actually, I added a touch more maple syrup because it was a little too dry. They turned out perfect. Thank you Angela for another great recipe. Happy Easter!
I used brown rice syrup and it worked fine!
I’ve made and shared these a few times now, always with great results and feedback! The crispy rice tends to stop being crunchy pretty quickly, however. Best eaten fresh, but I love saving some in the freezer for when I want a treat! :) Much better & healthier than regular peanut butter cups!!
These are great!! Thanks. I only used 2 tbsp of maple syrup and ZERO coconut flour and I left the rice crisps out too. I had to firm my PB balls in the freezer for about 30 mins before dunking them into the melted chocolate. Yum yum yum! Easy to make.
Once you freeze them again for another 10-15 minutes can you keep them in the fridge?
I have been making these for years and came back to print the recipe so I am leaving my rating now! These are the BEST! They are always such a huge hit with anyone I make them for- I don’t even like regular PB balls anymore. 10 stars!
Rice cereal is not vegan
First time recipe commenter here! These are THE best cookies! My sister brought them to a cookie exchange and I had to make more. I switched it up with almond butter and a dash of vanilla. Can’t wait to see how they turned out! Thanks, Angela!
If anyone has complaints for this recipe it’s just wrong, because this is amazing! I have making these pb balls for YEARS and everyone I share with is always obsessed…so thank you.
Can these be kept in the freezer until needed?