A seasonal favorite, rum balls have been in my family for at least four generations. This is my great-grandmother's recipe for the holiday classic, using Karo's light corn syrup and Nabisco Nilla wafers, two brands from the late 19th- and early 20th- century that are still around today.
According to food history, rum balls were first created by bakers in Denmark, who recognized a use for cake and cookie scraps left over at the end of the day. They combined the leftovers with jam and liquor, molded them into balls, and rolled them in coconut flakes or chocolate.
This recipe can also be adapted to be gluten free and vegan with relative ease - just substitute the crushed Nilla wafers for a gluten-free or vegan variety. And the best part is that these can be prepared in under 30 minutes and don't require an oven!
1 cup crushed Nilla wafers (breadcrumb size)
1 cup powdered sugar
2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1 ½ cups finely chopped pecans (walnuts or hazelnuts work well too)
2 tbsp light corn syrup
1 teaspoon pure vanilla
¼ cup dark or gold rum
Cane sugar, for rolling
First, prep pie plate with cane sugar for rolling and set aside (your hands will be sticky quickly)
In a food processor, pulse Nilla wafers until breadcrumb size. Then, measure 1 cup and set aside. Alternatively, you can crush wafers using a rolling pin or wine bottle and a ziploc bag.
In a large mixing bowl,
Combine all your dry ingredients. Mix together with a spoon until blended.
Then, add vanilla, rum & light corn syrup. Mix thoroughly with a spatula, folding ingredients until thoroughly combined and rather sticky. Or, using regular beaters and a mixer, blend on medium speed until thoroughly combined.
Roll into evenly sized balls, a bit smaller than golf balls. This recipe should make approximately 20-24 depending on your chosen size.
Roll each ball in sugar and set aside.
These will keep for at least 1-2 weeks in an airtight container, if they last that long!
Note: Because rum balls are no bake, the liquor does not bake off and are therefore suitable for adults.