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.
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.