Dessert recipes can range from the difficult and tedious (baklava, souffle) to very easy (jelly, banana pudding). One recipe that is fairly simple, preserves well and allows you, the cook, to be very creative with ingredients and toppings, is rum balls. Learn how to make these yummy bite-sized treats at home.
“Little chocolaty spheres of heaven” are a few choice words to describe rum balls, a popular and easy-to-make dessert. Rum balls make a delicious dessert, that suits the palates of old and young alike. They are small and not too sweet to suit a picky eater, yet plentiful and tasty for those with a sweet tooth. Rum balls are also a size-efficient dessert. You can make a few to satisfy a small dinner party or a lot to feed a crowd at a wedding or a picnic. Before learning how to make rum balls, here are some helpful cooking tips:
Use different binding ingredients: Rum balls are not baked, hence they need crumbly and sticky ingredients that bind together to form the balls. Nuts add crunchiness and taste to any rum ball recipe. For a better, richer taste, use toasted nuts. You can use walnuts, hazelnuts, almonds or pecans. Another binding ingredient is biscuit or cake crumbs. You can use vanilla wafers, chocolate chip cookies, sponge cake crumbs: basically any biscuit or crumb material will do. Experiment with crushed shortbread cookies or Graham cracker crumbs for a different taste. Some recipes recommend refrigerating the rum ball dough for at least 15 minutes before forming the balls, so that the dough is very firm.
Be creative with coatings: You can serve rum balls plain and uncoated or you can go crazy with toppings and coatings. Chocolate sprinkles, assorted jimmies and coconut shavings are all popular choices. You can even coat the balls with finely chopped nuts, like walnuts, peanuts or pistachios. Powder coatings include cocoa powder, confectioner’s sugar or coconut powder. For a truly decadent coating, melt milk or dark chocolate and coat the balls in them. Let the balls drip and cool in the fridge, then drizzle melted white chocolate over them.
Let the rum balls age: The more aged the rum, the better it tastes. For a rich taste, the rum balls should be prepared a few days before they are meant to be eaten. At least 3 days in advance is enough to season the alcohol in the balls.
Rum and other liquid ingredients: They may be named rum balls, but you can use different types of alcohol in this culinary creation. Depending on your alcoholic preference, you can use bourbon or whiskey instead of rum. For a milder, less-alcoholic taste, try using cooking rum. If you want non-alcoholic rum balls, substitute vanilla extract or apple or orange juice for the rum.
Easy Rum Ball Recipe
- 1½ cups of pecans, toasted and chopped finely (hazelnuts, almonds or walnuts can be used)
- ½ cup confectioner’s sugar
- 1¼ cups vanilla wafer cookies, crushed finely
- ¼ cup rum
- 2 tablespoons cocoa powder, unsweetened
- 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
- Combine pecans, wafer cookie crumbs, sugar and cocoa powder in a bowl.
- Add rum and corn syrup to the bowl. Stir well to form a thick paste.
- If the mixture is too dry, add more rum. Refrigerate the paste for 15 minutes.
- Remove from fridge and mold into 1 inch balls.
- Coat balls either in confectioner’s sugar or cocoa powder.
Hungarian Coconut and Cherry Rum Balls
- 2 cups vanilla wafer cookies, crushed finely
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 3-6 tablespoons rum
- 6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
- 6-8 tablespoons honey
- 30 fresh pitted or sweetened morello cherries
- 1 cup coconut flakes for coating
- Mix the crushed wafer cookies, cocoa powder and sugar in a bowl.
- Add honey and rum to the bowl. Mix well, such that a thick sticky paste is formed.
- The paste should be thick enough to hold together. If it is too dry, add a little honey to thicken it.
- Use a cherry and mold the paste around it to form a small round ball.
- Place the coconut flakes in a bowl. Place a rum ball in the flakes and gently roll it in the bowl to coat it.
- Store the rum balls in an airtight container.
Vegan Rum Balls
- ¼ cup cashews
- ¼ cup raisins
- ½ cup Medjool dates
- 2 tablespoons dark rum
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon pumpkin pie or clove or lemon spices
- In a mixer or blender, grind the cashews to a fine powder.
- Then add the raisins and dates to the mixer.
- Pour in the rum and vanilla extract, then add cinnamon and pumpkin pie spice.
- Blend well to form a thick paste. The mix should be firm enough to mold into balls but not too wet or moist.
- Taste the mix to see if it is sweet enough to suit your taste buds.
- If the mix is too dry and not sweet enough, you can add 2 tablespoons of agave to sweeten it.
- If the mix is too wet and bitter in taste, add 2 tablespoons of brown sugar.
- Remove thick dough from mixer and spread on a plate. Mold into rum balls.
Extra Chocolaty Rum Balls
- 4 cups powdered sugar
- 4 ounces semisweet chocolate, cut into small pieces
- 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, cut into small pieces
- 1 stick of butter
- 2 tablespoons rum
- Chocolate sprinkles to coat
- Place the cut chocolate pieces, both semi and bittersweet in a double boiler.
- Alternately, you can even place the chocolate in a metal bowl and place the bowl in a pot of hot water.
- Melt the chocolate and then whisk in butter. Mix well to form a thick creamy sauce.
- Add sugar and rum to thicken the mixture. Leave mixture to cool slightly.
- Mold the mixture into small chocolate balls, 1½ inches wide.
- Fill a bowl with chocolate sprinkles and roll the balls in the sprinkles, till they are coated well.
Peanut Butter Rum Balls
- 2 cups chocolate cookie crumbs
- 1 cup butter, softened
- 1 cup coconut flakes
- 2½ cups icing sugar
- ¾ cup peanuts, chopped finely
- ½ cup peanut butter (smooth, without chunks)
- ⅓ cup granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons rum
- Combine icing sugar, cookie crumbs, butter, coconut, peanut butter, peanuts, sugar and rum and mix well to form a thick dough.
- Mold small pieces of dough into ¾ inch-sized balls.
- Pour sugar in a bowl and roll balls in sugar to coat.
- Store in airtight container and refrigerate.
The best thing about rum balls is that you can use leftover cake crumbs or even cookie bits to make the balls. Make a batch of the balls and coat with different toppings, so you can serve a variety of rum balls in one go!