Chocolate Balls (Chokladbollar)—A Swedish Wartime Treat Turned National Treasure
If you’re Swedish, chances are you’ve had chocolate balls since you were old enough to chew, pretty much. If you’re a foreigner, on the other hand, it’s likely some well meaning Swede has introduced you to the treat. It’s as common as cinnamon buns…and just as delicious, even if Swedes aren’t as famous for it overseas (but should be!).

So what’s the history of chocolate balls? And what are some fab recipes if you want to try them out? Find out here…

A Humble History—Chocolate Balls in the Time of War

The first time published recipes for chocolate balls appeared was during WWII. During this time, rationing and a lack of access to “luxurious goods” was an issue so the chocolate ball was likely invented as a substitute for “real” chocolate. Because previously, what was known as “chocolate balls” was actually something similar to what we today call truffles—with a heard shell of chocolate and a soft creamy interior.
It wasn’t just in Sweden these recipes appeared, but also in Denmark. In Denmark they were called “havregrynskugler” (oatmeal marbles/balls) and appeared in the book “Opfindsomhed i en krisetid” (Ingenuity/Inventiveness in a Time of Crisis). In Sweden they appeared in the paper “Svenska Dagbladet” as “Barnens negerbollar.”

At that time the recipe involved boiling, so it’s safe to say it’s a precursor to the modern chocolate ball which is made entirely without cooking.

By 1956 the first chocolate ball recipe as we know it today appeared in Aftonbladet (an evening newspaper). It was sent to the paper by Monika—a ten-year-old girl. It called for oats, cacao, sugar, butter, and vanilla sugar. In other words, the exact ingredients many people use today when making chocolate balls.


How to Make Chocolate Balls

As with any good and well-loved recipe there’s plenty of debate about the exact amount of ingredients, but they tend to contain the following.


- Butter
- Sugar
- Oats
- Cacao

- Vanilla sugar
- Coffee

Roll them in one of the following:
- Pearl sugar (coarse white crystals that resemble small pearls)
- Desiccated coconut
- Sprinkles
- Cacao (or cacao mixed with sugar)

To make the chocolate balls, you use butter that's been warmed to room temperature and whip it with sugar, then stir in the other ingredients. Finally, you shape the dough into balls and roll them in your desired topping. After that, you pop the balls in the refrigerator and eat when chilled.

A super simple recipe that’s super delicious! For the full recipe, see below!


Variations on a Theme

Over the years, people have experimented with chocolate balls and come up with new variations. One is the “arraksbollar.” These chocolate balls are made with arrack (also known as arak)—a liquor from India—and instead of oats, old bread or cake is crumbled and used for the stuffing. These chocolate balls are usually rolled in chocolate sprinkles. Sometimes they are shaped as sticks instead of balls and coated in green marzipan, with the edges dipped in dark chocolate. This is popularly called a “dammsugare” (a vacuum cleaner…supposedly because some vacuum cleaners used to have the same shape).

As healthy foods have become increasingly popular, healthier versions of chocolate balls have also started appearing. In some recipes the sugar is exchanged for honey or some other sweetener, such as dates (if using a blender) or date syrup. In other recipes, the butter is exchanged for virgin coconut oil. And in some recipes, both fat and sugar is omitted and instead bananas are used as a substitute for both!

There’s also a “milder” version of chocolate balls, with less cacao, which is called oatmeal balls.

People simply add new flavors to the traditional recipe as well. For example, adding some orange essence, chili, or gingerbread spice can give the chocolate balls a flavorful kick!

And if you prefer, you can roll the balls in crushed nuts, cinnamon and sugar, melted chocolate, or even berry powder instead of using the traditional sugar or coconut. And if you're feeling creative, you can shape the dough into animals and turn them into Halloween treats, or treats for your kids/nieces/nephews next birthday party!

Today you can buy the traditional chocolate balls, the healthy versions, and arrack balls in bakeries and supermarkets in Sweden. In fact, we stock all three. We even offer Dave and Jon’s Dates in chocolate ball flavor and have DIG’s super healthy chocolate balls that taste like a dream!


Traditional Chocolate Balls Recipe (Recept på Chokladbollar)

If you want to make some classic chocolate balls, this is a great recipe from to try. 


   - 3 dl (1 ½ cups) rolled oats
   - 100 g (3 ½ ounces) softened butter, at room temperature
   - 1 dl (½ cup) granulated sugar
   - 2½ tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
   - 1½ teaspoons vanilla sugar
   - 2 tablespoons strong coffee, such as espresso


   - In a large bowl, cream together the butter, sugar, cocoa powder, and vanilla sugar until light and fluffy. You can use a fork, an electric mixer, or a stand mixer with the paddle attachment.
   - Add the remaining ingredients, including the rolled oats and coffee, and mix with your hands until a smooth dough forms.
   - There is no need to chill the coffee. Prepare the coffee while you are creaming the butter and sugar, and add it lukewarm.
   - Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rest in the refrigerator for 15 minutes to allow the oats to soften.
   - Once chilled, roll the dough into balls, about the size of a walnut. Then, roll the balls in granulated sugar, coconut flakes, or other desired toppings.
   - Place the cookies on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Chill the cookies for at least 30 minutes, or until firm.
   - Let the cookies sit at room temperature for 10-15 minutes before serving to allow the flavors to meld.


Too dry or wet?: If the dough is too dry, add a little more coffee or milk. If it's too wet, add a little more rolled oats.
Without coffee?: Simply omit the coffee from the recipe.
More chocolate flavor?: Fold in about 50 g (1 ¾ ounces) of finely chopped dark chocolate or dip the cookies in melted dark chocolate and then roll them in coconut flakes. Dipping them in melted white or milk chocolate is also delicious.
Roll them in whatever you like: Granulated sugar, coconut flakes, toasted coconut flakes, sprinkles, colored coconut, berry or fruit powder.
Flavorings: A little licorice powder, raspberry powder, or 1 tablespoon of punch or liqueur can be a tasty addition. Or why not a pinch of sea salt?
Browned butter option: Try melting and browning the butter until it is golden and nutty. Let it cool in the refrigerator until it solidifies slightly but is still soft. Then, mix it with the other ingredients. Super delicious!


Healthy Chocolate Ball Recipe  (Nyttiga Chokladbollar)

If you want a healthier version, this recipe from COOP is well worth trying! See the tips in the end if you want to "healthify" your recipe in a different way!


    - 16 fresh dates, pitted
    - 3 dl (1 ½ cups) rolled oats
    - 1 dl (½ cup) coconut flakes
    - 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
    - 0.5 dl (¼ cup) coconut oil, melted
    - 2 tablespoons strong brewed coffee
    - 1.5 tablespoons water, or as needed
    - Sprinkles
    - Coconut flakes
    - Chopped nuts


    - Remove the pits from the dates. Place the dates in a food processor.
    - Add the rolled oats, coconut flakes, cocoa powder, and melted coconut oil.
    - Add the strong brewed coffee and water, if needed, to make a smooth mixture.
    - With slightly damp hands, shape the mixture into round balls.
    - Roll the balls in your choice of sprinkles, coconut flakes, or chopped nuts.

Swedishness tip: You can use the “regular” recipe too, and simply exchange sugar for honey, and butter for coconut oil. Super tasty…and doesn’t require a blender! Just be sure the coconut oil is the consistency of a thick cream when stirring it with the honey (you can melt it, then let it start to “stiffen”).


Arrack Balls Recipe (Arraksbollar)

If you like your booze, why not booze up your chocolate balls? You can add some liquor for flavor to regular chocolate balls, or try this classic version of arrack balls. This recipe comes from Lyckas med mat.


    - 100 g (3 ½ ounces) butter or margarine, softened
    - 1 dl (½ cup) light muscovado sugar
    - 1 teaspoon vanilla sugar
    - 2 tablespoons sifted cocoa powder
    - 3 dl (1 ½ cups) sponge cake or dried bread crumbs
    - Flaggpunsch (or your liquor of choice) or arrack essence to taste
    - Chocolate sprinkles for garnish


   -  In a large bowl, cream together the butter, cocoa powder, muscovado sugar, and vanilla sugar until light and fluffy.
    - Mix in the breadcrumbs and then add the Flaggpunsch or arrack essence to taste. Stir until everything is well combined. Chill the mixture in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
    - Once chilled, shape the mixture into small round balls and roll them in chocolate sprinkles.
    - Place the chocolate balls on a plate or baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Chill them in the refrigerator for an additional 15-30 minutes until firm.
    - Serve chilled and enjoy!


Go Chocolate Ball Nuts

Once you've tried chocolate balls and can't get enough, it's time to go chocolate ball nuts! You can use the dough for chocolate balls as the base for a cake. Or why not decorate a chocolate cake with chocolate balls? Or add some to your vanilla/chocolate ice cream (cut into bits first)?

Experiment making your own chocolate balls, or be lazy and buy some from us...then get creative!