Whenever my sister-in-law comes to visit, she tries to sneak in rum balls. There's a deli near Union Square that sells them and it must be sending out a homing signal. A rum ball beacon. It doesn't matter what we're doing or where we are, it's only a matter of time before she says "who wants to go get rum balls!" It's not really a question so much as a rallying cry.
So this holiday season I decided to make them. Not having eaten very many of them makes it hard to know if I have duplicated the version my sister-in-law likes so much. Lee says they are actually better than the deli version. All the recipes I could find are fairly similar. You can use rum or bourbon, cocoa or chocolate, walnuts or pecans and vanilla wafers, chocolate wafers or graham crackers. The crucial element in the beloved rum balls seems to be that they are covered in chocolate sprinkles (or jimmies as they are sometimes known). Making them stick presented a problem but not an insurmountable one.
If you are DONE baking cookies, but still want a nice hostess gift, I think rum balls fit the bill. They are bite sized, boozy, a little nutty, chocolate-y treats. I like a combination of pecans and walnuts so the flavor is the right nutty combination of bitter and buttery. Using a food processor really makes them easy, I can't imagine all the chopping and crumbling without one. Another key to the recipe is to let the rum balls "age". I think a day or two is fine but some recipes advise a week.
2 cups graham crackers, finely crushed
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup pecans, finely chopped
1/2 cup walnuts, finely chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons honey
1/4 cup rum + 3 tablespoons, separated
Place the graham crackers into a food processor (about 9 whole crackers). Add the nuts and pulse until finely crumbled. Sift into the food processor the powdered sugar. Add the honey and the 1/4 cup rum. Pulse until well combined. The mixture should be sticky and crumbly.
Pour the remaining rum in a small cup. Place the chocolate sprinkles in a small bowl. Grab a handful of the mixture and squeeze into a compact ball shape. Dip the rum ball into the rum and press into the chocolate sprinkles. When completely coated, place on a cookie sheet and chill in the refrigerator. Let them sit in the fridge for a couple of days, then bring to room temperature to serve.
by David Latt