Ruth's Peanut Butter–Date Balls

December 16, 2019
7 Ratings
Photo by Rocky Luten. Food Stylist: Anna Billingskog. Prop Stylist: Amanda Widis.
  • Prep time 10 minutes
  • Cook time 10 minutes
  • Makes about 23 balls
Author Notes

Adapted from the Betty Crocker Cooky Book, 1978 (originally published 1963). —Miranda Rake

What You'll Need
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 cup chopped dates
  • 1 cup crunchy peanut butter
  • 1 cup confectioners' sugar
  • Chopped chocolate or chocolate chips, melted (for dipping)
  1. In a food processor, blitz the walnuts until lightly ground and then the dates until lightly chopped. Add the peanut butter, sugar, walnuts, and dates to the bowl of a stand mixer and mix on low to combine.
  2. Shape the dough into tablespoon-sized balls and place on parchment paper–lined cookie sheets in the fridge.
  3. Meanwhile, warm some chocolate in a double boiler on the stove until just melted. Dip the balls in chocolate and place on a waxed paper–lined cookie sheet and place in fridge to harden. Refrigerate until set.
  4. Note on Serving Size: I usually triple this and it yields about 65 to 70 balls.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Valerie Gutchen Arnade
    Valerie Gutchen Arnade
  • jlg84
  • Miranda Rake
    Miranda Rake
  • Zoe K
    Zoe K
Miranda Rake

Recipe by: Miranda Rake

Miranda is a writer and editor in Portland, OR. She has a sweet, curious toddler, and is passionate about all of the usual things like farmers markets, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, and swimming in the sea. She hates leaf blowers and writing in the third person. Until recently, she owned and operated a small jam company, as is typical for a Portland-based millennial like herself.

15 Reviews

Zoe K. December 26, 2023
This recipe is the closes one that I have for my Dip Cookies recipe! Except I use 1/2 cup of dates and real (Adams)Peanut Butter creamy. For the semi sweet chocolate chips (1 bag) I also put in 1/2 bag of butterscotch chips. Changes the taste of just chocolate chips!I Found that after you stir it up, and to use your hands to combine it better. Than into the refrigerator! To cool down while, melting the chocolate.
mstv January 4, 2020
I made these completely in a food processor and tasted the mixture before I added the powdered sugar. Since they seemed sweet enough to me, I tried rolling some of the mixture into a ball and it seemed to hold its shape nicely. So I skipped the powdered sugar and just dipped balls of the mixture in melted dark chocolate. I will note that the dates I used were very moist. They turned out great!
Valerie G. December 28, 2019
I just made them. It definitely helps to make them with someone fun so you don't get bored rolling and dipping. The dough was a tiny bit crumbly but rolled out fine. The chocolate we used I highly recommend: Ghiradelli Dark Chocolate Melting Wafers. They melted easily and have a nice flavor, better than chocolate chips. The recipe does not say how much chocolate to use, which is kind of important. I used two 10 oz bags and had some melted chocolate left over to throw some pretzels into, which I stuck in the freezer and quickly had chocolate coated pretzels. The recipe is easy enough. No Crisco or paraffin needed. The balls taste pretty good. I am a huge fan of peanut butter. They don't taste so amazing that I have to have more than one or two.
Valerie G. December 28, 2019
PS I highly appreciate that it is a decadent-sounding recipe, but it's actually fairly healthy -- no one will know -- and full of good quality protein (because I'm annoying like that). Thanks.
Valerie G. December 29, 2019
Update: I can't stop going back and getting more. They are dangerous. I like them better than I did when they were just out. Recommend keeping them cold in the refrigerator.
Elizabeth H. December 22, 2019
My family, too, has a beloved peanut butter ball obsession, but we don't have the lovely story behind it. Thank you for sharing this! Our recipe has Rice Krispies in it to give some extra crunch, but your recipe sounds decadent and I will have to try it. I have always used semisweet or dark chocolate chips and will add just a bit of Crisco to help loosen it and harden it. But my chocolate is always thick and doesn't look nearly as smooth as yours. Can you share the type of chocolate you use? Thank you!
Miranda R. December 22, 2019
Hi Elizabeth! Food52 photographed these, so I am not sure what kind of chocolate they used. But! I will say that I've made these peanut butter balls with both chocolate chips (various brands) as well as chopped chocolate and have noticed that chocolate chips tend to melt down into a pretty thick goo that is hard to work with. Buying larger bricks of chocolate and then chopping it yourself should make for a melted chocolate that is easier to work with. If you really want to go all-out, you could order "couverture discs" online—basically chocolate discs that are made specifically to be melted down and used for coating confections like this (or making chocolate barks etc.). I like the brand Felchlin. Also, melt the chocolate in a not-too-hot double boiler, and melt it slowly, stirring constantly. Once it is fully melted, I like to remove it from the heat and pour it into a bamboo or silicone bowl (not metal or ceramic—nothing that would hold heat). I hope this is helpful!
Elizabeth H. December 23, 2019
Super helpful. Thanks so much!
jlg84 December 18, 2019
Made these using high-quality crunchy peanut butter and no matter what I did, the mix did not come together at all.
Miranda R. December 18, 2019
Oh no! I'm so sorry that happened. This is truly the recipe I follow every year, so I'm not sure what went wrong. If it's helpful, I usually make these using Adam's crunchy peanut butter (the kind you have to stir). You pulse the walnuts and dates until they're quite ground up, and then by the time I combine the walnut-date mixture with the PB and sugar, just a few minutes in the stand mixer transforms those four ingredients into a sort of dough that is easy to roll. I hope these things are helpful!
tia December 16, 2019
My family makes something very similar and we learned something important this year: chocolate chips have stuff in them that helps them keep their shape when melted. If you use chopped chocolate, it's much easier to dip the candies.
Miranda R. December 17, 2019
I didn't know that chocolate chips have stuff added! That's a great tip, thanks! We also usually prefer to buy big bars and chop them.
Leigh December 16, 2019
Is there a substitute for the 1 cup of confectioner's sugar? I prefer not to use this product.
tia December 16, 2019
My family makes something very similar to these and the confectioner's sugar is what makes the "dough" dough-like. You might be able to sub white sugar you'd ground yourself and cornstarch (or other kind of starch) to get the texture you want but you'd have to test quantities. I don't think you'd want to use a liquid sweetener; you'd need to add more starch or the whole thing would ooze everywhere.
Miranda R. December 17, 2019
I agree with tia! The confectioners sugar is really important for helping these peanut butter balls come together and cohere, and I am not sure what would work as a sub. You could possibly play around with using more walnuts or dates, and grinding them super finely? Maybe worth a try!