Toasted Sesame Peanut Butter Balls

Toasted sesame seeds and ancho chile powder give this classic holiday candy a new twist. 

Toasted Sesame Peanut Butter Balls

Tradition dictates that I make some kind of peanut butter and chocolate confection each year for Christmas. Sometimes it’s Easy Chocolate Peanut Butter Swirl Fudge, other times it’s Buckeyes. This year I came across a new recipe that intrigued me with its simple ingredients and complex flavors. It incorporates benne seeds – a southern strain of sesame seeds – and ancho chile powder into a well-known classic candy.

The benne seed is an heirloom variety derived from the same plant as modern-day sesame seeds. They are scarce, but can be procured at specialty markets. Since sesame seeds are their relative and more widely available (although flavor-wise, benne is more nuanced) I decided to use them in this recipe. It gave this candy a whole new personality!

Toasted Sesame Peanut Butter Balls

The original recipe lives on Garden & Gun’s website, and is the fine work of chef Brandon McGlamery and his pastry kitchen. I didn’t stray far from the formula provided, but opted for a mild milk chocolate coating in place of semisweet. The ancho chile powder is a subtle note in the chocolate, and without heat. It’s mostly just smoky and sweet.

Toasted Sesame Peanut Butter Balls

Making this recipe was fun because it kept with my tradition and I got to taste something new!  If you love peanut butter balls and aren’t a purist, then you’ll love this new take on a time-honored traditional candy.

Toasted Sesame Seed Peanut Butter Balls

Toasted sesame seeds and ancho chile powder give this classic holiday candy a new twist.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 25 minutes
1 hour chill time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 25 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine American, Southern United States
Servings 24


  • 1 cup 227 grams creamy peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup 113 grams butter, softened
  • 3 cups 12 oz.. confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 1/4 teaspoon lightly toasted sesame seeds divided
  • 4 cups 24 oz. milk chocolate baking bars, finely chopped
  • 1 3/4 teaspoon ancho chile powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt


  • Combine peanut butter and softened butter in the bowl of an electric mixer; beat until smooth. Add confectioners’ sugar and 1 1/4 teaspoon of sesame seeds and mix until well combined. Cover and refrigerate at least an hour, or until mixture firms. Scoop mixture out with a small cookie scoop (4 teaspoon capacity) and place onto parchment lined baking sheets. Roll each into a smooth ball between your palms. Place in refrigerator and chill until firm, about one hour.
  • Finely chop baking chocolate. Place the chocolate in a saucepan over low heat, stirring until smooth and melted. Remove from heat immediately and stir in ancho chile powder and salt. Remove chilled peanut butter balls from refrigerator. Use a toothpick to dip cold peanut butter balls into the melted chocolate mixture, just long enough to coat the surface. Hold over the pan and tap off any excess chocolate coating. Remove dipped peanut butter ball off the toothpick with the tines of a fork, and place back onto parchment lined baking sheet. Immediately sprinkle each ball with a pinch of the remaining sesame seeds while the coating is still soft.
  • Allow the candy to set until firm on cookie sheets at room temperature, or chill in the refrigerator before serving or packaging. This candy can be stored in the refrigerator in a covered container for at least one week.


Adapted from a recipe by chef Brandon McGlamery
Garden and Gun Magazine Dec/Jan 2015
Keyword benne seeds, christmas candy, peanut butter balls
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