I blogged some about the inspiration behind these rum balls earlier here. I decided to make them a little bit different from usual by choosing some ingredients to give these a little bit of Norwegian “flair.” These would make lovely gifts! The good thing about rum balls is that they are incredibly adaptable to almost any ingredient you want to throw in there- if you don’t want to use (or can’t find) pepperkake, you could use the traditional vanilla wafer, or practically any other cookie you’d like. Same thing goes for the nuts. Don’t like almonds? So what? Use pecans, walnuts, hazelnuts, etc etc. I suggest toasting them first, as toasting really brings out the nutty flavor and makes them taste so much nicer. (To toast nuts: spread nuts evenly on baking sheet and bake about 10-15 minutes at 350, or until they turn a nice pale goldeny shade. If you can smell them, they’re probably done. Careful you don’t forget about them, they can go from perfect to burned pretty quick) You can also vary the type of spirit you use. Try rum, bourbon, whiskey, or maybe even schnapps would be nice. Experiment. If you want to make them kid friendly, a fruit juice like apple or orange would be tasty. Anyway, here is the basic recipe I used:
Jessica’s Fantabulous Rum Balls:
- 1 1/2 cups finely crushed pepperkake cookies (substitution: gingerbread cookies or ginger snaps)
- 2 tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa
- 1 heaping cup of almonds, toasted, then finely ground (but not too much, you don’t want almond butter)
- 1/3 cup of brandy
- 4 tablespoons of “lys syrup” (substitution: corn syrup, honey, golden syrup)
To begin, if you are using almonds, you should blanch them if they haven’t already been to remove their skins. Blanched almonds are easy to get in the US, but they are less common here and cost more. I’m cheap. I buy them skins on and blanch them myself. To blanch almonds, just pour a little boiling water over them and let them sit for a while. Then pour off the water, put them into a tea towel then rub them to loosen and remove the skins. Toast your almonds as suggested above, then cool. When your almonds have cooled, throw them in the food processor and grind them up. Just don’t go crazy overboard and turn your almonds into almond paste or almond butter. After I ground my almonds, I threw a bunch of pepperkaker into the food processor and pulsed it to crumbs. Combine the almonds, pepperkaker and cocoa together in a bowl. Then add the syrup and brandy. Mix well to combine. Its going to look something like this: Yeah, it looks kind of… ew. It’s also going to be a little soft, so cover it and stick in the fridge (or in my case, out on the balcony!) for a little while until it’s firmed up a bit. Next, we roll. I scooped up tablespoons of the mixture and rolled them into balls. For me, this yielded 25 rum balls. You could make them bigger or smaller if you like. I just think its important that they are relatively uniform in size. I placed them onto a parchment lined tin, covered them again and put them back out to chill. Next, toppings. Here is where you can get really creative. Don’t hold back! Try chopped nuts, sprinkles, colored sugar, chocolate. Anything is game.
If you’re going to dip in chocolate, here are a couple hints: If you’re going to add a sprinkle on top, it’s best to do it before the chocolate sets. If you’re going to add white chocolate designs, its best to do that after the chocolate has set. Store in an airtight container for up to 3-4 weeks. Rum balls get better with age, as the alcohol has a chance to really soak into all the ingredients- so if you can resist eating them all on the first day, they’ll only get better! Have fun with this, make them your own. The base recipe is nothing more than an idea- use it as a spring board to experiment with! I hope you enjoy making them (and eating them) as much as I did. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you all!