Last night Sam was talking to his parents and I heard him say, rather downheartedly "Andie het kei Wiinachtsgüetzli bachen" (Andie hasn't baked any Christmas cookies).
"I have a newborn!" I yelled from the couch.
But, to be honest, it went right to my heart.
Previous Christmas baking praise swirled in my head, "You made how many different kinds of cookies? Sorry, over a dozen? And you decorated them all by hand? You ground your own nuts? And made that marzipan from scratch? But you only had to bring one kind!" etc.
And this year I had nothing.
So I decided to raid my cupboard and make the easiest and booziest Christmas treat I could muster.
Limitless variations, limited work involved.
Not quite as iconic as this SNL sketch, but surely as festive, these boozy balls are ones you'll actually want to eat.
Often rum balls are made with leftovers—stale cake and cookies—but these are purpose built, using ground nuts as the base. And why ever limit yourself to just rum?
You can make them gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan, even booze-free (use coffee or strongly brewed tea)—the variety is endless.
120 g ground almonds or hazelnuts
100 g icing sugar
100 g dark chocolate (70% or higher), grated
80 ml booze (rum, brandy, fruit schnapps etc.)
1 tsp vanilla paste or extract
cocoa powder, sprinkles, coconut, icing sugar, slivered almonds, etc.
Stir together ground nuts, icing sugar, grated chocolate, vanilla, and any additional flavourings.
Pour in the booze and mix well.
Form balls with your hands or two spoons.
Fill shallow bowls with the desired toppings, then roll the balls to coat.
Refrigerate until they firm up. For best results, keep in the fridge.
add the zest of one orange to the dry ingredients
use cointreau or grand marnier
add a tsp cinnamon to the dry ingredients
use cinnamon liqueur or calvados or apple brandy
use absinthe, ouzo, or pastis
roll in Mukhwas (Indian fennel candy)
use malibu or rum
roll in flaked coconut
use coffee instead of booze
or use a coffee liqueur and add some ground coffee to the dry ingredients
- For best results, start by toasting your nuts. Just make sure they are completely cooled before you add the chocolate and icing sugar.
- If the mixture is a bit too wet, you can mix in cocoa powder one tsp at a time.
- The easiest way to add ground coffee to a recipe is to break open a Nespresso pod.
Grating chocolate is a messy business.
In pastry school there were two types of people, warm handed and cold handed. The warm handed people could not handle delicate finished chocolate work without it melting all over. The cold handed people felt their chocolate piping bags solidify a minute after using them because their hands didn't produce enough heat to keep the liquid flowing.
This recipe favours the cold handed. Warm handers, you're going to end up with a literal brown mess on your hands.
To minimize the damage you can use a mouli grater or food processor, or some people freeze the chocolate before handling it.