These vanilla birthday cake protein balls are perfect for when you’re craving a small afternoon snack or post-gym pick-me-up
Unlike bliss balls, which tend to require lots of dates, syrup, nut butter and coconut oil for moisture and flavor, these protein balls mainly derive their cakey texture and flavor from chickpeas and vanilla protein powder.
The thought of adding chickpeas to a sweet treat may sound strange, but after giving these protein balls a try you’ll likely never look at a can of them the same way again.
An Everyday Kind of Birthday Cake
These protein balls are by no means meant to rival your love for real vanilla birthday cake. Please keep eating classic boxed cake and celebrating people’s births every chance you get.
Instead, these healthy cake bites are like the realistic, day-to-day version of birthday cake; when it’s not standing on three tiers and dressed up in fancy buttercream, it’s a modest looking protein cake ball.
Packed with TWO forms of plant-based protein: chickpeas and pea protein powder, these protein cake balls truly live up to their namesake!
You can totally swap out the pea protein for another protein powder of choice, just make sure it’s vanilla-flavored for best results.
Because the chickpeas provide a generous amount of moisture and binding material, these protein balls require no oil, and far less nut butter and syrup than most snack balls. Thanks to the lighter ingredients, they are a truly great pre-workout snack!
The Simple Breakdown
You can let out a sigh of relief because these cake balls do not require blending dates. If you’re an avid raw and no-bake recipe maker, you’re probably rejoicing. For everyone else: sticky blender blades are not fun to wash!
Instead of blending gooey ingredients, these cake balls simply require pulsing chickpeas until they are smooth. The chickpea puree is then combined with cashew butter, maple syrup, and vanilla extract.
Finally, the vanilla protein powder is stirred in, which helps elevate the wet batter to a soft cake texture.
All that’s left to do is roll, roll, roll those cake balls up! Oh and don’t forget to go to town with the low-sugar glaze and rainbow sprinkles, of course. Let the little kiddie in you run wild.
Vanilla Birthday Cake Protein Balls
- Birthday Cake Balls:
- 1/2 cup (~90 g) chickpeas, thoroughly rinsed and drained
- 4-5 tbsps vanilla protein powder (amount will depend on the taste/texture of the protein you use; I used Nothing Naughty's Vanilla Pea Protein)
- 2 heaping tbsps cashew butter (or almond butter, but the flavor will be slightly less vanilla cakey)
- 2-3 tbsps maple syrup (add to taste based on desired sweetness)
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- Pinch salt
- ~1 tbsp colorful sprinkles (plus more for topping)
- Sugar-Free Glaze:
- 1 1/2 tbsps coconut oil, melted
- 3 tbsps almond milk powder (or use another milk powder for a different flavor, such as coconut or dairy)
- Powdered sugar or stevia/erythritol to taste, if desired (liquid sweeteners, such as maple syrup, will unfortunately make this glaze seize up and separate)
Blend the chickpeas in a blender or food processor until smooth. A hand-held immersion blender may also do the trick. You may have to stop and scrape down the sides of your blender a couple times if it's large and the chickpeas fly to the sides without breaking down.
Combine the chickpeas and wet ingredients in a large bowl, stirring until well incorporated. Add the protein powder, pinch salt, and sprinkles. Taste and add slightly more maple syrup to taste if desired. The batter will be slightly tacky and moist, but should not be too sticky to roll into balls (if it is, add more protein powder ~1 tsp at a time).
Roll into ~9-11 balls, depending on desired size, and pop in the fridge/freezer while you make the glaze.
Melt the coconut oil over low heat. Once melted, take off the heat and whisk in the almond milk powder and sweetener (if using). Set in the fridge/freezer to slightly thicken up for a less runny glaze.
Dollop small spoonfuls of icing over the protein balls, topping with sprinkles. Allow to chill in the fridge to harden up. I think they taste even better the day after making them! Keep in a sealed container in the fridge for ~4 days.