Thursday, December 17, 2009

Rum Balls

For countless Christmases, my grandmother would prepare a huge batch of what she called Bourbon Balls. Everyone in the family loved them, except me. I could only taste the alcohol, which made me gag. But I suppose that's the real reason everybody else loved them so much.

This year my mom shared a new recipe that caught my attention. I realized that nobody was forcing me to make them boozy. I could control the rum and add as much or as little as I liked. Now I'm on my third batch and they get better each time. I've given them away to friends and family and will be shipping some to our family members in France who live on the side of country we won't be visiting this Christmas (we're sticking to the Alps where we can ski!).

I've learned that the balls look prettiest when rolled smallish (3/4 of the size of a walnut) and run through a plate of red sugar sprinkles. Also, while I used the pecans the recipe calls for in the first batch, they are not very accessible or affordable here. In fact, I paid the equivalent of $7 for approximately 1 cup of pecans. The second time around I toasted a mix of walnuts, almonds, and hazelnuts and thought the finished balls were just as good if not better than the first batch. So if you like one type of nuts over another, use what you like or have in the house. But I can't promise that peanuts would work well.

There are no chocolate or vanilla wafers in Denmark (that I know of), so I simply used Marie vanilla biscuits. Although they are quite a different thing than vanilla wafers, they worked beautifully. Finally, I opted for 1/4 cup rum and thought the flavor was perfect.

Rum Balls
Adapted from Alison Ladman's recipe, The Associated Press

8oz pecans, toasted and cooled
9oz package chocolate or vanilla wafers (or 1 sleeve of Marie biscuits)
1/2c powdered sugar
2T cocoa powder
1/2c rum (I used 1/4c)
2.5T corn syrup (or lys sirup)
Zest of 1 orange
a couple of squeezes of juice from the orange
colored decorating sugar, white granulated sugar, powered sugar, etc. (whatever you want to roll yours in...plain is fine, too)

Note: You might need to play a bit with the moisture of the mix. You want a mix that rolls relatively easy in your hands. That is, not too dry and not overly wet either. I found my first batch a bit dry; by adding a few more drops of orange juice and a little more syrup, it was just right.

1. In a food processor, pulse the pecans until finely ground.

2. Add the cookies and pulse until ground and mixed together.

3. Add the remaining ingredients and pulse until thoroughly mixed.

4. Roll the mixture into small balls, then decorate by rolling in whatever topping you choose.

Store in an airtight container. Makes about 35.


  1. These rum balls are very good. Thanks a lot for the lot you gave me - I didn´t share them with anyone:-) Glad you posted the recipe. Would have asked for it otherwise:-)Did you bring the red sugar back from the States or did you find it here? I thought it looked nice and xmassy...

  2. Hi Kira,
    So glad you liked them! I had a jar of the sugar in the baking box that I shipped from the U.S. earlier this year. The red is gone, but I have green left! Now that I've heard about your snowballs, I definitely have to try those, too.

  3. They look super delicious and if you are on your third batch they must be fantastic. Looks so festive with the red sprinkles.