Monday, December 10, 2018

A Makeover for the Season’s Most Spirited Cookie

Christmas Rum Balls

     I ran across this article in the New York Times and the idea really sounded good.  You might want to give this idea a shot this year instead of the traditional recipe.

     There are plenty of ways to tweak a rum ball recipe. You could change up the nuts, swap out the sugar, add spices or cocoa, or use honey in place of corn syrup. You could drizzle in bourbon or brandy rather than rum. You could even nix the alcohol altogether, using orange juice instead (just reduce the sugar by a smidge).    One element must remain fairly constant, though: the cookie crumbs.  Pulverized wafers cookies — usually vanilla and occasionally chocolate — are the standard, because their dry, crunchy texture allows them to absorb the maximum amount of rum.

     I got the idea during a deep foray into gingerbread house making last winter. After the house was baked and assembled, and all the royal icing scrubbed off the counters and floor, I was left with a large heap of scraps that I nibbled on for a couple of weeks. I pulverized what remained into crumbs and stuck them in the freezer. I had more than two quarts, enough for several batches of rum balls and a few cheesecake crusts, in which gingerbread took the place of the usual graham crackers.  Gingerbread or gingersnap crumbs give these rum balls a spicier edge.

     The rum balls, in particular, were a hit, heady with booze and gently spiced. I liked them so much that this year, even without plans to build a gingerbread house, I decided to make the rum balls anyway. I crushed up a package of gingersnaps in the food processor, and added the chopped pecans and the rum. Then I mixed in some grated fresh ginger to amp up the spice, and substituted maple syrup for the corn syrup to give everything a warmer, deeper taste.