some might call these power balls. they won’t make you a multi-millionaire, but they will keep you energized and enthused throughout your day, ready to go balls to the wall (too easy, i know).
the last time i checked, the combination of chocolate and peanut butter served as my simple proof that God exists and wants us to be happy. i have felt this way about this flavor combination for as long as i can remember, and things haven’t changed as my palate has matured. i honestly find myself baffled when somebody (people with peanut allergies excluded) doesn’t like peanut butter. if someone tells me they don’t like chocolate, i pretty much know we aren’t ever going to be more than acquaintances since we disagree on fundamental beliefs. one of my oldest friends is allergic to chocolate, but she still tries to eat it far too frequently, just hoping that maybe this time it won’t make her throw up. it never works, but i applaud her effort since a life without chocolate seems like a miserable one.
that being said, i know i can’t eat reese’s on the reg, and i need a somewhat healthier alternative. balls! they’re the answer to everything, right? i mean energy balls, of course. energy balls that are naturally sweetened with dates and filled with fiber and protein and all plant-based ingredients…then covered in chocolate. you’ve got to treat yo’self sometimes, right?
these little guys pack a punch, and they’re sure to curb your sweet tooth and keep your tummy happy in a way that candy just can’t do. they’re easy to make and modify according to your preferences. if you can’t have peanuts but can have tree nuts, swap your nut butter. if you are trying to cut back on sugar but want to keep the chocolate-y flavor, roll the balls in raw cacao instead of melted chocolate (you’ll lose the bite of the shell, but it’s a pretty good compromise). if you don’t like chocolate, roll the balls in desiccated coconut or toasted sesame seeds, then know that your and my relationship begins and ends here. just kidding. kind of.
Chocolate + Peanut Butter Energy Balls
makes 20-30 balls
- 1 cup pitted dates
- 2ish cups hot water
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 heaping Tbsp salted natural peanut butter or other nut butter
- 2 Tbsp flax seed
- 1 1/2 cups oats (i toasted mine for about seven minutes before using)
- 3/4 cup semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips/bar
- (optional) sea salt, desiccated coconut, crushed nuts, etc. for garnish
- put your dates in a high speed blender or food processor, then cover with hot water. let sit for 10-15 minutes (now is a great time to toast your oats and scale out the rest of your ingredients)
- once dates have softened, drain 3/4 of the water into a cup and reserve in case you need to moisten your dough
- forgive me for saying “moisten”
- add salt, then blend/process until the dates are mostly smooth and a paste has developed
- add nut butter and blend to incorporate
- add oats and flax and pulse to form a dough, scraping down the sides of the blender/processor as necessary. if dough is too crumbly, add one tablespoon of date water at a time until a cookie dough-like texture is achieved
- once the dough is thoroughly mixed, empty it into a mixing bowl. if you hate washing dishes like i do, use a bowl that can be used later for melting your chocolate
the dough will look like a bit of a mess in the blender, and it probably won’t look much better once it’s in the bowl.
8. now is the time when you get to act like a kid again. cover a plate or pan with parchment paper or a silpat. roll your dough into little balls, and don’t you dare feel insecure about their size. everyone’s look a little different, and there are no perfect balls. take pride in your balls, no matter how big, small, or uneven they might be. put your finished balls on your prepared non-stick surface, then stick them in the freezer for at least fifteen minutes
9. whenever you’re ready to coat your balls, melt your chocolate and prep your garnish(es). i used enjoy life chocolate chips for my coating and sea salt and coconut on top. full disclosure: i also ate some of the balls before coating them, and, i’ll admit, they were good even without the chocolate.
10. take the balls out of the freezer and roll them individually in the melted chocolate, then place them back on the parchment to set. if you are garnishing them, wait for the chocolate to harden a bit before topping them. if your bowl of chocolate begins to cool and thicken, warm it up again and keep on rollin’. when they are all covered and set, they should peel off the paper with ease. store in the refrigerator in a sealed container.
if you try this recipe, i’d love your feedback, especially if you use any substitutions. enjoy!