Peanut Butter Balls and Christmas go together for me like peanut butter and jelly. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been making peanut butter balls. When I first started making them, when I was still living at home and had all my siblings in the house, I could not dip them fast enough – they were gone almost the minute I put them on the cookie sheets to set the chocolate. I’m sure I was one of the peanut butter ball snatching thieves too. They are just so good!
I’ve gone through several versions of peanut butter balls, from making them really tiny (about 1/2 inch in diameter – yikes, it took FOREVER to make enough of them at that size!), to making them larger (more like 1 inch in diameter), to adding Rice Krispies cereal and chopped peanuts once I married my husband and he convinced me to change to a more similar version to what he had growing up, to finally attempting a version this year that I wasn’t sure would even work.
My original version used three ingredients – creamy peanut butter (of which I grew up using the “non-natural” variety), powdered sugar, and butter. Oh, and of course chocolate to dip them in. Well, as I’ve worked on eating more naturally and cutting back on unhealthy ingredients like hydrogenated fats and added sugar, I knew I could never truly enjoy my tried and true peanut butter balls in the same way I always had. It was time for a change, because, as I said, what’s Christmas without peanut butter balls?
The first time I made the new version, I literally whipped them up and did not have high expectations. But, much to my surprise, they worked! And, besides needing to refine the dipping method a bit (due to all the coconut oil in the filling – don’t worry, I give tips below on how to get it done perfectly), I was ecstatic. The real kicker came when my husband tried one and said he actually preferred them to our “normal” version, which I had already made some of (so it’s not like he was just happy to have a treat in the house). Now THAT’S saying something.
What changed did I make? I replaced the “non-natural” peanut butter with natural peanut butter (aka: no hydrogenated fats!), replaced the powdered sugar with honey and decreased the amount by a lot, and swapped refined coconut oil for the butter (partly because I don’t tolerate dairy well, but mostly because I knew I would need something to make the filling nice and firm due to the other changes I had made. I also added some chopped peanuts to give these a bit of crunch since I took out the Rice Krispies. The chocolate didn’t change – I’ve always dipped them in good dark chocolate.
I hope you give them a try and enjoy them as much as we do. By the way, what special treat (or treats!) do you have to have to make Christmas more merry and bright? I’d love to hear in the comments!
P.S. The method in the recipe looks long but I’ve give you a lot of tips and tricks throughout the method that I have learned over many years of making these, to make it as easy as possible to get beautiful looking peanut butter balls! Enjoy!
Peanut Butter Balls How-To Photos:
Five easy-to-find ingredients combine to make out of this world peanut butter balls!
I like to chop the peanuts fairly small so they get well dispersed
Mix all of the filling ingredients together.
The mixture will be really thin at this point – trust me, it will firm up.
You should see this ring of firm filling around the edge – then it’s ready to stir/whisk again.
After stirring, it should have the consistency of cookie dough.
Drop into small mounds in a waxed paper lined pan.
Chill for about 15 minutes (not much more) and then roll into nice balls.
This is the set up for melting the chocolate – saucepan with water over the heat and a bowl filled with the chocolate setting on top. If you have a double boiler, you can use that instead.
After the chocolate is completely melted, try letting it stand off the heat for 30 to 60 minutes before dipping the peanut butter balls.
Set the dipped peanut butter balls on a waxed paper lined baking sheet.
Chill until chocolate is set. Word to the wise, keep these refrigerated and only pull out a few to eat at one time. The filling gets soft if left out too long, making them difficult to eat…unless you pop a whole one in your mouth at once, that is!
- 1 cup natural salted peanut butter (I prefer Smucker’s® brand)
- ½ cup refined coconut oil, melted
- ¼ cup honey
- ½ cup chopped peanuts
- 9 ounces dark chocolate (I use Ghirardelli® Dark Chocolate Chips)
- In a medium bowl combine peanut butter, melted coconut oil, and honey. Stir until well combined. Stir in chopped peanuts. Mixture will be thin! Cover and chill for about 1 hour or until there is about a 1-inch ring around the top edge of the mixture that is firm.
- Use a large whisk and whisk the peanut butter mixture well, to incorporate the firm portion with the softer portion. After stirring well, the whole mixture should be the consistency of cookie dough. If it’s not, refrigerate for 15 to 20 minutes more or until you can stir it to a cookie dough consistency.
- Line a 15x10x1-inch baking pan with waxed paper. Drop peanut butter onto paper in small mounds, using a slightly rounded measuring teaspoonful of mixture per mound. Cover loosely and chill mounds for 15 minutes (it’s important not to chill them much longer than 15 minutes or they will be too firm to roll). Roll the mounds between your hands to make them nice and round; place back in the pan. (Your hands will get messy; rinse them with cold water after rolling every few mounds, to make the process easier).
- Cover loosely and freeze for at least 1 to 2 hours or until very firm. (It’s important not to skimp on the freezing time.)
- Meanwhile, set a heavy glass bowl over a saucepan of water (the water should reach up to about 2 inches under the bottom of the bowl – it should never touch the bowl). Place the saucepan over medium heat. Bring the water to a low simmer. Reduce heat to low. Add chocolate to the bowl (if using baking chocolate, chop the chocolate first). Allow the chocolate to melt, stirring occasionally. Once about half of the chocolate is melted, turn off the heat. Let the chocolate stand about 10 minutes. (The warmth of the melted chocolate will melt the remaining chocolate in the bowl.). Stir until all chocolate is melted and smooth. At this point, I like to let the chocolate cool for a bit before dipping the frozen balls (see the tip below).
- Line a large baking sheet with waxed paper; set the pan close to the melted chocolate. Work in batches of about six to dip the frozen peanut butter balls in the melted chocolate. (If you get all of the peanut butter balls out of the freezer at the same time to dip, by the time you get to dipping the last few balls, they will no longer be frozen and it won’t work well).
- To dip the balls, drop one frozen ball into the melted chocolate. Quickly roll it around with a fork until completely coated. Use the fork to scoop under the ball and lift it straight up out of the chocolate. Lightly scrape the bottom of the fork along the edge of the bowl to allow excess chocolate to drop off. You can also tap the fork lightly on the side of the bowl to allow excess to drop off. (It’s important to get as much excess chocolate off the ball as you can, but to do this step quickly so that the coconut oil in the filling does not melt into the chocolate – this can make the chocolate thin and it won’t cover the balls as nicely).
- Quickly transfer the ball to the waxed paper lined baking sheet. Set the fork close to the paper. Use a thin metal spatula or butter knife to help slide the dipped ball off the fork. Once all the balls are dipped, chill them in the refrigerator (uncovered) for about 20 minutes or until the chocolate is completely set.
- Don't leave these peanut butter balls out at room temperature for long or the peanut butter filling will get soft and difficult to eat, unless you pop the whole thing in your mouth at once! Keep the in the refrigerator and pull out only a few at a time.
- To get the prettiest looking peanut butter balls, do not use piping hot melted chocolate. If you have the time, after the chocolate is completely melted, let the chocolate stand in the bowl still over the hot water in the pan for 30 to 60 minutes or until it is barely warm to the touch, but not starting to set up around the edges. This is the sweet spot and will help you get pretty peanut butter balls. Then, work quickly to get the peanut butter balls dipped.
- about 42 peanut butter balls
- (per peanut butter ball) 95 cals, 2 g pro, 5 g carb, 8 g fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 4 g sat fat, 1 g fiber, 25 mg sodium