Our Mom made rum balls every holiday season. As a kid, we didn’t like the taste of the rum. Because these are no-bake cookies, the strength of the spirit doesn’t dissipate.
As we moved into adulthood and our palate embraced alcohol, we found that we loved them. We eagerly anticipated the holidays…and Mom had to make a double batch to accommodate our sweet tooth.
While most people in the U.S. make rum balls as Christmas cookies, you can make them year-round.
They’re delicious with coffee, an espresso Martini, or a glass of red wine. Or a Dark & Stormy rum cocktail.
This recipe, from premium rum distiller Kōloa, uses the brand’s Kōloa Kauai Cacao Rum in the recipe.
You can treat yourself to a bottle and enjoy it in cocktails as well as baked goods.
But coconut rum, spiced rum, or plain rum will do nicely.
For more rum-spiration, visit Koloa Rum and check out the whole line of fine rums.
1. COMBINE the dates, walnuts, rum, and cocoa powder in a food processor. Process until you achieve a very dense, fudgy texture, scraping down the sides as needed.
2. SPOON out the mixture in 1 tablespoon increments and roll each into a ball.
3. ROLL the finished balls in shredded coconut.
4. STORE the rum balls in the refrigerator for up to a week or in the freezer for up to several weeks.
5. SERVE chilled, right out of the refrigerator, for the best texture.
> A COOKIE GLOSSARY
Rum balls were invented by the Danish bakers to use up unsold breads, cakes, and pastry that would be stale by the next day.
Someone came up with the idea for romkugler (rum balls). All the unsold cakes, and pastries were mixed together with cocoa powder and rum.
The sticky dough was then rolled into balls, coated with coconut flakes or sprinkles, and sold the next day for a low price.
It remains a popular choice in Danish bakeries.
Recipes vary from region to region and from family to family. While chocolate and rum are givens*, the rest of the ingredients can vary.
Some recipes use jam or condensed milk as a binding agent, and these can be part of an alcohol-free recipe.
Others substitute bourbon for the rum.
Some recipes add nuts and/or raisins.
Some cooks place a whole (pitted) cherry, soaked in rum or brandy, in the center of the ball.
Confectioners have adapted the idea to rum-infused balls of chocolate ganache.
Here’s a recipe that uses muffins instead of leftover cake, plus raspberry jam, as well as cocoa and rum.
*Some modern recipes do away with the chocolate, like this recipe made with vanilla wafers, pecans, both bourbon and rum, and honey as a binder.