Easy & Healthy Peanut Butter Balls | The Rising Spoon

Saturday, December 7, 2019

Easy & Healthy Peanut Butter Balls

An easy no-bake recipe for healthy peanut butter balls that are sweetened with maple syrup, coated in melted chocolate, then sprinkled with salt. These are just as satisfying as the classic version, but WAY less sweet. I promise you won't miss all that powdered sugar! The best part? You can make them ahead of time and stash them in the freezer until you're ready for dessert. (gluten-free with grain-free option)

Easy & Healthy No-Bake Peanut Butter Balls Recipe

Have you ever tried chocolate covered peanut butter balls? They're a super popular dessert around Christmas time and are often included on dessert trays or in packages with homemade food gifts. They're basically like a spherical (truffle shaped) Reese's peanut butter cup. Sounds yummy, right?

There's even a version that comes from Ohio called Buckeyes (named after nuts grown on the state tree). This one calls for dipping most of the ball in chocolate, but leaving a bare circle at the top with just the peanut butter part poking out. I have to admit - they're pretty eye-catching!

The traditional recipe calls for creamy peanut butter, LOADS of powdered sugar (usually 4 cups per 1 cup of peanut butter), Crisco or butter, and chocolate for melting & dipping. Some even use food-grade paraffin wax for coating. Eek.

Back in high school, my aunt's friend used to bring these to our Christmas celebrations every year and they were one of my favorite desserts. But after 1-2 of them, I'd end up sitting on the couch feeling like crap.

All the powdered sugar made my blood sugar spike & crash hard. It's an issue I ran into frequently growing up with all the sweets & junk food (I discuss it briefly on my about page.)

So, I set out to recreate this classic recipe but with significantly less sugar. It was a major success!

My sister and I came up with this healthier version 4 years ago during our Thanksgiving holiday and everyone loved 'em. We kept them stored in the freezer and they disappeared quickly. I even ate three in a row and felt great afterward!

(In a hurry? Click here to save the recipe to Pinterest for later!)


Easy No-Bake Peanut Butter Balls Recipe

Ingredients For Making Healthy Peanut Butter Balls

You only need 7 simple ingredients that you likely have on hand in your pantry or fridge right now. Like I mentioned above, my healthy version is made without any powdered sugar or shortening. And it uses a lot less sugar so you can indulge in several without a crash.
  • Creamy Peanut Butter: Regular or the natural kind with the oil floating on top (I've used both - just make sure to stir the natural one well beforehand). Look for one with no added sugar, hydrogenated oils or stabilizers. It should just say peanuts & salt on the back label. If you have a peanut allergy, cashew butter or almond butter makes a delicious substitute.
  • Coconut Oil or Unsalted Butter: I always use coconut oil because I tend to go through my Kerrygold butter super quickly in a bunch of other holiday dishes. I typically have a big jar from Costco on hand so it saves me money. I also love the flavor that unrefined coconut oil imparts, but if you're not a fan, softened butter works beautifully. 
  • Maple Syrup: This is the replacement for the powdered sugar and naturally sweetens the peanut butter mixture. I only use enough to lightly sweeten it, but you can add more, to taste, if you want. Just make sure it's real maple syrup, not maple-flavored pancake syrup (a.k.a. corn syrup). I'm sure honey works if you prefer that, I just haven't tried it yet because I feel like it would overpower the flavor of the peanut butter. Let me know if you do!
  • Ground Oats or Oat Flour: This helps to thicken the peanut butter filling and make it less sticky so it's easier to roll into balls. We need it here since there aren't copious amounts of powdered sugar to fulfill that role. Could you leave it out? Probably, but that might make them harder to shape into balls. (Note: The oats also add some texture, so if you're looking for an uber smooth PB filling, this might not be the recipe for you.) Oats have a neutral taste, are naturally gluten-free, and have some fiber + protein, so I thought they'd make a good addition. The cheapest option is to use any oats you have on hand for making oatmeal (like old fashioned oats a.k.a. rolled oats or plain instant oats) and grind those into a fine texture using a blender or grab a small bag of oat flour from the store. 
  • Vanilla Extract: For extra flavor - vanilla makes all sweets better!
  • Flaky or Coarse Salt: I love to use this flaky sea salt and this coarse sea salt. A few pinches go into the filling and the rest gets sprinkled on top of the chocolate coating while it's still melty. You can omit it if you want, but I love the irresistible sweet + salty combo it creates. 
  • Chocolate Chips: This is gently melted then used for coating the peanut butter balls. I always use dark (bittersweet) chocolate when I make these but milk chocolate, semi-sweet chocolate, or even white chocolate all work. Or maybe a mixture of multiple kinds if you're feeling creative! Mixing it with a bit of coconut oil (or butter) helps to make it easier to melt & dip.

TIP: Need a paleo and/or a grain-free version of this recipe? Use cashew or almond butter instead of peanut butter and coconut flour instead of the oats.

Easy & Healthy No-Bake Peanut Butter Balls Recipe

How to Make No-Bake Chocolate Peanut Butter Balls

Here is the basic process for how to make peanut butter balls so you can browse through it before checking out the full recipe. I've also included some tips & tricks here, too.
  • Mix the peanut butter & coconut oil (or butter) in a bowl. Your cooking fat needs to be softened so it fully incorporates into the peanut butter. So, either set it out on the counter ahead of time or place it in an oven-safe container under the broiler for a few minutes to quickly soften. If it's really cold in your home, you may need to melt the coconut oil that way since it solidifies under 76 degrees.
  • Stir in the maple syrup, ground oats, vanilla extract & salt. The mixture should be pretty thick once the oats are mixed in. If desired, you can taste the filling now for sweetness and add more maple syrup 1/4 cup at a time until it's sweet enough to your liking. I prefer it less sweet, which is why I only use a small amount.
  • Chill the filling briefly and roll into balls. Stick the filling into the freezer to let it firm up a bit. This makes it much easier to shape the peanut butter into a ball without it getting messy. The balls don't have to be a perfect 1-inch shape, but getting them a uniform smaller size helps you get more out of the batch. Place the balls on a baking sheet lined with parchment or wax paper so they don't stick.
  • Chill the formed balls & melt the chocolate: I know there seems like a lot of chilling, but I promise you it's worth it. Sticking the mixture & peanut butter balls into the freezer makes it SO much easier to shape the balls and then dip them in the chocolate. In the last 5-10 minutes of chilling, combine your favorite chocolate chips with a bit of coconut oil or butter (this loosens up the chocolate to make it easier to dip) then melt in increments in the microwave or over some water on the stove using a double boiler.
  • Dip each ball in melted chocolate & top with salt. Make sure the chocolate isn't super hot (straight out of the microwave or off the stove) and the balls are nice & cold. Dip each one in the chocolate using two spoons, dripping off any excess back into the bowl, and place on the parchment or wax paper. Before the chocolate starts to set (keep an eye on it during the dipping process), sprinkle the tops with flaky or coarse salt.
  • Let the chocolate coating solidify then store in the fridge or freezer. You can do this on the counter first or speed up the process by sticking them in the freezer for about 10 minutes. I prefer to let mine firm up in the freezer, stick them in an air-tight container, then back in the freezer again. As long as they're covered properly, you can store them for up to 3 months in the freezer and pull them out a little bit before you're ready to serve. This makes them excellent for a make-ahead dessert when you have company coming over. I often eat them straight from the freezer because I love the texture so much. And yes, you can freeze peanut butter balls before or after dipping them in chocolate. It's a very common question. :) 

Watch the Recipe Video

Are you a visual learner? Watch my short recipe video showing you how easy it is to make these homemade no-bake peanut butter balls.


More Easy Dessert Recipes to Try:



peanut butter balls, healthy, easy
dessert
American
Yield: 24 balls
Author:

Easy & Healthy Chocolate Peanut Butter Balls

Easy & Healthy Chocolate Peanut Butter Balls

prep time: 30 Mcook time: 5 Mtotal time: 35 M
An easy no-bake recipe for healthy peanut butter balls that are sweetened with maple syrup, coated in melted chocolate, then sprinkled with salt. These are just as satisfying as the classic version, but WAY less sweet. You can make them ahead of time and stash them in the freezer until you're ready for dessert. (gluten-free with grain-free option)

ingredients:

For The Peanut Butter Filling
For The Chocolate Coating

instructions:

How to cook Easy & Healthy Chocolate Peanut Butter Balls

  1. Stir together the peanut butter and softened coconut oil (or butter) in a mixing bowl. Measure in the maple syrup, followed by the ground oats OR oat flour. 
  2. Pop the mixing bowl into the freezer for 15 minutes to firm up. This makes it easier to form the dough into balls.
  3. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Scoop out small portions of the peanut butter mixture and roll into 1-inch sized balls, then place each one on the baking sheet. 
  4. Place the baking sheet back in the freezer for 30 minutes so the balls are firm & cool when we dip them in the chocolate.
  5. In the last 5-10 minutes of freezing time, combine the chocolate chips and coconut oil in a bowl and gently melt using your favorite method (microwave or stovetop double boiler). 
  6. Dip the balls one at a time in the melted chocolate. Flip them around to make sure they're completely covered, then use two spoons to remove them from the chocolate and shake off any excess that drips off. Place each ball back on the parchment-lined baking sheet. Continue this process until all the peanut butter balls are dipped. Before the chocolate coating sets, sprinkle the tops with coarse or flaky sea salt.
  7. Store the finished peanut butter balls in an airtight container in the freezer or fridge until ready to eat. I prefer the texture directly out of the freezer, but that's your call!

NOTES:

INACTIVE TIME: The prep + cook time I've included here is what it would take you to make & assemble the balls and stick them in the freezer for a minimum of 10 minutes to firm up. In the directions, I recommend keeping them in the freezer for a total of 45 minutes (this helps to prevent stickiness), so if you follow those guidelines it will take an hour-ish to make them. If your kitchen & ingredients are cool, you may be able to fix them quicker with less chill time. PEANUT BUTTER: Make sure you use unsweetened peanut butter without any added sugar or oils. It should just say peanuts & salt on the label. Regular or natural (with the oil floating on top) both work. If you have peanut allergies, almond butter or cashew butter makes a great substitution. SALTING: If you find that the chocolate coating is firming up too quickly before you can finish dipping the whole batch of peanut butter balls, stop halfway through and sprinkle the salt on the finished balls before continuing. BUCKEYES VERSION: To make a healthier version of the popular Ohio dessert, follow all the instructions above, then when it comes to dipping the peanut butter balls, use a toothpick to dip each ball in the melted chocolate, leaving the top 1/3 of the ball undipped (so it forms a bare circle).

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Click Here to Save This to Your Dessert Recipes Board on Pinterest!

An easy no-bake recipe for healthy peanut butter balls that are sweetened with maple syrup, coated in melted chocolate, then sprinkled with salt. These are just as satisfying as the classic version, but WAY less sweet. I promise you won't miss all that powdered sugar! The best part? You can make them ahead of time and stash them in the freezer until you're ready for dessert. (gluten-free with grain-free option)


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MEDICAL DISCLOSURE: The information included on this website is intended for educational purposes only. It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. None of the opinions expressed here are meant to diagnose or treat any disease or illness. You should always consult your healthcare provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for your own situation or if you have any questions regarding a medical condition or treatment plan.

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