I’m not sure when I first tasted a rum ball, but I know I wasn’t of legal drinking age.
I grew up in a town full of German bakeries, so rum balls – like marzipan and rye bread – were inevitable. My favourites were always the soft ones rolled in chocolate sprinkles, so saturated with rum they almost fell apart. (I believe rum balls that only have a faint whiff of rum should be called something else.)
I was also fed brandy beans at a very young age. I assume all that early exposure to liqueur was good for my development. In any case, it has given me a mature palate to appreciate alcohol and dark chocolate.
Now, sadly, I am not surrounded by German bakeries, and this year I have been dreaming of rum balls. I knew I wanted a soft, dark chocolate rum ball but I also knew my rum ball needed something else, something that would give it a secret background of flavour. After extensive research, I found the mystery ingredients: hazelnuts and walnuts. Germans love these nuts because they meld so well with dark chocolate that they almost become a whole new species of choconut.
I also thought long and hard about the chocolate sprinkles I would roll the rum balls in. After all that work on the rum ball interior, I couldn’t take a chance on a waxy exterior. In the end, I made a special trip to the Dutch store to buy chocolate sprinkles there. I was not let down – these are indeed chocolate-y enough to sprinkle on toast. (Those crazy Dutch people!)
These rum balls are just what I remember: deep and dark and full of rum. In fact, they are so rummy that I made them very small – then you can also have some brandy beans and not be over the legal limit.
A note for the gluten-free among us: These work perfectly with gluten-free chocolate cookies. I like this brand.
tipsy rum balls
1 c. crushed chocolate cookies (about 1 1/2 c. before crushing)
1/4 to 1/3 c. rum, to taste plus more to dip
generous 1/2 c. hazelnuts
generous 1/2 c. walnuts
1 tbsp. cocoa powder
1 tbsp. sugar
sea salt, to taste
3 oz. semisweet chocolate
lots of chocolate sprinkles
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Crush cookies in a sturdy plastic bag or a food processor. Pour into a bowl and mix in the rum. Set aside.
Roast the hazelnuts and walnuts in the oven for 3 – 5 minutes. Keep an eye on them – don’t let them burn! Pulse nuts in food processor with cocoa, sugar and a couple sprinkles of sea salt until fine, but not a paste. Mix nuts into rummy cookie crumbs.
Melt chocolate in a double boiler, or in a metal bowl suspended over boiling water. Stir well into nutty cookie mixture.
Pour 1 – 2 tablespoons rum in a tiny prep bowl. Pour chocolate sprinkles in a cereal bowl. Use a teaspoon to grab dough and roll with hands, sometimes using fingers to keep it together. Dip the ball into the rum, then roll in sprinkles. Repeat until you’re done. Store in the fridge.