I declare rum balls the new truffles. Besides, truffles are so 2014. Rum balls should seriously be a year-round treat. Think about it. We enjoy truffles year-round, so why not rum balls?
The inspiration for this recipe came from my friend Robin, who was raving about her grandmother’s secret rum ball recipe. She was so sweet and offered to share the recipe with me, but the thought of having to bake dozens of gluten-free cookies (to create crumbs) mere days before the holidays, didn’t sound like something I wanted to do. But, it sparked an idea.
I started wondering if I could use gluten-free cake crumbs in place of cookie crumbs (because running a cake mix company means that I usually have lots of cake in my freezer). Plus a cake is so easy to make and our mix is already gluten-free and vegan. No muss no fuss! And, a cake is so much easier than rolling out cookies to later pulverize in your food processor. And you know what? It worked! I combined parts of two different recipes (one a recipe from my book 300 Best Chocolate Recipes and one from a recipe by Gale Gand on the Food Network website). These rum balls are so amazing, and I plan to make them year round. I also plan to play around with the recipe further and create different flavor/liqueur combinations.
Although the recipe may look a touch complicated, it couldn’t be simpler. The key is to have cake crumbs ready to go. I thawed cake slices from my freezer and pulsed them in the food processor. You can also use a white or chocolate cake. Either would work well. Other than that, you can alter the booze you use, although after making a few batches, I like them better with a strong booze (high alcohol content). If you prefer a milder booziness to them, use any ol’ rum you like (preferably a darker rum). Let me know if any questions arise with this recipe.
Julie’s Best Ever Rum Balls (gluten-free + vegan)
This recipe is a combination of two recipes, one from my cookbook 300 Best Chocolate Recipes, and the other a recipe I found on the Food Network website by Gale Gand. The best part of all is that it uses cake crumbs, so I was able to use our gluten-free white cake mix. To make the cake crumbs, simply pulse pieces of baked and cooled cake in the food processor.
2 1/4 cups Julie’s Original White Cake crumbs from a leftover cake (not packed)
1 cup raw pecans (not packed)
3/4 cup powdered sugar, sifted
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
3/4 cup dairy-free semisweet chocolate chips, melted*(see below)
2 tablespoons light corn syrup (organic or regular)
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons rum (I prefer a stronger one such as Bacardi 151)
About 4 to 6 ounces (or more as needed) semisweet chocolate for chocolate dipping
In the bowl of a food processor with the metal S-blade, add the pecans and pulse until finely chopped.
In a large mixing bowl, add the cake crumbs, pecans, powdered sugar, cocoa powder, and powdered sugar, mixing together. Add the melted chocolate, the corn syrup and the rum, stirring until everything is well mixed. Using your hands, try to form the mixture into a ball. If the mixture won’t hold together add another tablespoon of corn syrup. If it’s too wet, you can sprinkle in a little more cake crumbs. The mixture should be soft and scoopable. Using a small cookie scoop or a spoon, scoop the mixture into small 1-inch balls. If using a spoon, roll the balls in your hand. Place them on a parchment-lined baking sheet and refrigerate until cold.
At this point you can roll them in cocoa powder or powdered sugar, or chocolate dip them. If chocolate dipping, don’t roll them in either powdered sugar or cocoa. Let the rum balls age or ripen 24 hours before serving.
To chocolate dip the rum balls: Chop about 4 ounces of semisweet or dark chocolate, and place in a microwaveable bowl. Heat in the microwave for 20 seconds. Give it a stir and heat for another 20 seconds. Stir it again, and if the chocolate is half melted, continue stirring until the rest of the chocolate is melted. The heat from the bowl will help melt it the rest of the way. If it’s not totally melted, heat for another 20 seconds and stir again. Alternately you can melt the chocolate in a double boiler. Using two forks, dip the rum balls in the melted chocolate, rolling them until they are completely covered. Gently shake of any extra dripping chocolate and place them on a parchment or Silpat lined baking sheet. Continue with the rest of the rum balls. If you run out of chocolate, simply melt more. Place the tray of chocolate-dipped rum balls in the refrigerator until the chocolate is firm. Right before serving, I like to give my chocolate-dipped truffles a quick dusting of cocoa powder.
*To melt the chocolate chips for the rum balls: Place the chocolate in a microwaveable bowl. Heat the bowl in the microwave for about 20 seconds, until the chocolate chips start to melt. Give it a good stir. If they aren’t melted enough, heat it for another 15 seconds or until they are soft. Stir again. They don’t have to be totally melted but almost. The trick with chocolate is to not overheat it or it will burn.