Delicious crunchy bites of everyone’s favorite pairing: peanut butter and chocolate! An easy-to-make vegan and gluten-free snack that is as healthy as it is tasty.
Now that the numbers are much better in L.A. County, my husband and I have been venturing out on the weekends, exploring different parts of Los Angeles. One of the many reasons we decided to move here is because of the natural beauty this area offers. Between the Pacific Ocean, mountains, canyons, botanical gardens, and endless hiking trails, Californians have so many options to enjoy The Great Outdoors! Last weekend, we took a drive up Topanga Canyon and along Mulholland Drive. Fun fact: Mulholland Drive was built in the 1920’s as a way to encourage pastoral life for the surrounding area. At the time, Southern California was experiencing a huge explosion of growth in both people and car ownership. Apparently, one of the lead engineers working on the Mulholland project stated while it was being built, “The Mulholland Highway is destined to be one of the heaviest traveled and one of the best known scenic roads in the United States.” It really is a great drive, with lots of twists and turns, and several lookout points along the way. Yesterday, we went for a long hike near Griffith Park. It felt so good, both physically and mentally, to be hiking through the mountains. We had spectacular views of the Los Angeles skyline, but just taking in the natural landscape around us was so satisfying. I need to get myself a pair of proper hiking boots!
Now, many of you know that I love chocolate to the point that it is my Stuck On A Desert Island Food. I can’t remember a day when I haven’t had at least one piece of dark chocolate. It’s absolutely a psychological thing at this point, but it’s so satisfying. More times than not, I end up pairing my dark chocolate with peanut butter in some capacity. I started making these peanut butter balls many years ago, and they have become a household staple; I never run out of them! I eat them for breakfast, in the afternoon as a snack, or after dinner as my dessert. I made a batch to bring along on our cross-country drive to California, and I think I ran out of them somewhere around Utah. They take no time at all to prepare, are gluten-free, and If you make them with all-natural peanut butter (no sugar added), they are a healthy treat. The recipe calls for brown rice cakes, but you could just as easily substitute Rice Krispies cereal if you prefer. If you are a strict vegan, you can easily find vegan dark chocolate chip options these days. Guittard is one of my go-to brands. Let me know if you have any questions in the comments section, and have a good week!
No-Bake Crispy Peanut Butter Balls
- 2 cups brown rice cakes, broken into crumbs
- 1 1/2 cups crunchy (all-natural) peanut butter *if using sweetened, omit the maple syrup
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1 tbsp. maple syrup
- 12 oz. 60% dark chocolate chips*
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Place brown rice cake crumbs, peanut butter, vanilla extract, and maple syrup in medium-sized bowl and mix thoroughly using a rubber spatula.
- Using a 1-inch cookie scoop, scoop mixture onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Set aside.
- Place chocolate chips in a medium-sized bowl and microwave for 30 seconds on high. Give it a good stir. Repeat and stir again. The chocolate should be almost melted at this point. Be very careful not to overheat the chocolate chips. The chocolate should feel neutral in temperature. Stir for several minutes to ensure chocolate is completely melted but also not too warm. If it feels too warm, continue to stir. The chocolate mixture will thicken as it cools.
- Using a fork, dip balls into tempered chocolate. Lightly tap fork against side of bowl to get rid of any excess chocolate. Place on parchment-lined baking sheets until chocolate is completely set. This usually takes several minutes.