These vegan treats are full of peanut buttery goodness and coated in luscious chocolate. With reduced refined sugar and no added oil compared to typical holiday treats, these peanut butter balls are actually loaded with nutritious ingredients, are gluten-free, and don't require any baking! Wonderful any time of year, especially the holidays.
Chocolate-Covered Peanut Butter Balls have been a holiday tradition in my family for decades. Way back when, my mother got the recipe from our neighbor, Kitty, and the whole family has been enjoying them ever since. There have been a few years here and there when I haven't made a single holiday goodie, times when I haven't been able to organize or participate in a cookie-making party, dessert exchange, or make cookie plates for the neighbors - and yet I still manage to make Chocolate-Covered Peanut Butter Balls. Why are they the only ones that get made? Well, they're pretty easy and fun to make. That, and they're a crowd-pleaser. They're that wonderful combination of peanut butter and chocolate, plus a bit more: dates, oats, and pecans or walnuts.
I didn't need to alter the recipe too much to plantify it. Wait, what's "plantify" you ask? I guess it's my new word for not only veganizing a recipe, but making sure the ingredients are real foods and plant-based whenever possible. In other words, made up of the kind of ingredients that I now like to eat the most, that make me feel the best.
The original recipe has just 7-ingredients: peanut butter, powdered sugar, butter, chopped dates, chopped walnuts, chocolate chips, and butterscotch chips. I wanted to keep it just as simple, so decided to replace the powdered sugar with coconut sugar, an unrefined sugar. The butter was unnecessary with the texture of the dates and fat in the peanut butter. After some trial and error with other ingredients (like rum!), I ended up ditching the butterscotch. Adding ½ teaspoon vanilla to the peanut butter mix seemed to help make up the difference. Thankfully, the taste-testers didn't end up missing it too much in the final result. Though there's still some refined sugar in the chocolate chips, the amount in the recipe is greatly reduced. Super simple, delicious, and nutritious!
Here's a list of the final ingredients:
- peanut butter
- medjool dates
- coconut sugar
- pecan, walnuts, or a combination of the two
- rolled oats
- semi-sweet chocolate chips, or you could use chocolate bars that are 50-70% cacao
- Start with toasting the nuts. You can do this in a pan on the stove or in the oven. I like using my toaster oven for this.
- Place the nuts, dates, and oats in the food processor and pulse until well combined. Add the remaining ingredients (except the chocolate) and pulse until all the ingredients are well distributed.
- Form the balls and place them on a lined baking sheet that will fit in your fridge or freezer. I like using a meatball shaper (see image), which forms balls easily that are about 1 ¼ inch balls. Be sure to wet the shaper after every two balls so they don't stick. Alternatively, you can simply form them by hand, any size you'd like. Keep in mind that the size of the balls will determine how much chocolate you need to cover them.
- Chill the balls in the freezer at least half an hour, or in the fridge for a couple hours.
- Use a double boiler to melt the chocolate. You can form your own with a pan that has a little water in it and a pot that will fit inside the pan. Make sure water remains in the pan as you work.
- Dip the balls in the chocolate. I usually use a fork for this. Place the dipped balls back on the baking sheet.
- Allow the chocolate to harden, placing the baking sheet back in the fridge if necessary.
I hope you give this new "plantified" recipe a try. Maybe it will become your new holiday tradition!
More holiday treats:
Chocolate-Covered Peanut Butter Balls
- food processor
- double boiler or a pan and a pot + cooktop
- 1 cup peanut butter
- 1 cup medjool dates pitted
- 1 cup coconut sugar
- 1 cup pecans or walnuts
- ½ cup rolled oats
- ½ teaspoon vanilla
- ⅛ teaspoon pink salt optional, or any salt
For chocolate coating
- 12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips non-dairy/vegan, or equal amounts of 50-70% dark chocolate bars
- Toast the pecans/walnuts in a small pan over medium-low heat for about 10 minutes, tossing regularly, until they begin to darken and release their scent. Alternatively, toast in a toaster oven or regular oven for 5-10 minutes at 325 degrees (keep an eye to make sure they don't burn).
- Add the toasted nuts, peanut butter, dates, coconut sugar, oats, vanilla, and salt (if using) to a food processor and mix until well combined.
- With wet hands, roll the dough into balls, or use a meat baller, wetting it after every two balls. The meat baller will make balls about 1 ¼ inches, which are on the large size. You can make them by hand any size you'd like, but may need more chocolate to coat. Place the balls on a lined baking sheet that will fit in your fridge or freezer and chill for at least a half hour in the freezer or a couple hours in the fridge.
- To melt the chocolate, use a double boiler or create one with a small pan of water with a stainless bowl or small pot over it. Make sure water remains in teh bottom pan as you work. Melt over medium heat, stirring until all are melted.
- With a spoon or spoon-shaped spatula, dip the chilled peanut butter balls in the melted chocolate one at a time, working quickly to roll the ball to coat. Tap the spoon on the edge of the pot to remove excess chocolate, then place back on the baking sheet. Continue until all are dipped, melting more chocolate if needed.
- Allow chocolate to harden, placing the baking sheet back in the fridge if necessary. Once hardened, place the chocolate-dipped balls into a sealed container in the fridge. Enjoy!