Chocolate Covered Rum Balls - Ideal Christmas Gift !

These are really really easy to make and there is not even any cooking involved. Is that cheating ? They were SO easy to make, it FELT like cheating.

I made these at 3am on Saturday morning. No joke - honestly I did... On a Saturday, our shop NATURAL HEATING selling cast iron multi fuel stoves (wood burners) is open from 11am > 1pm. Two hours barely sounds like it's worth it, but at this time of year it's not uncommon for us to be packed out the door with customers and many have a long wait to be seen. People often come a long way to see us and view our stoves, so I like to be able to offer them a hot drink and a cake.

We only open for two hours as I have to take Oliver with me - and it's verging on impossible to work and entertain a toddler.

With the hours I've been working recently, I was getting TOO TIRED to make cake. That's why I decided to have a go at making these rum balls - which could double up as a practice run for starting Christmas Hampers in a couple of weeks.

I found and bookmarked this recipe from Joy of Baking a few weeks ago. It's astonishingly easy and there are all sorts of possible variations.

140g finely chopped almonds
120g of finely crushed vanilla wafers (I used the Askey's fan shaped ones to go with icecream)
70g icing sugar (original recipe says 55 - but it wasn't as sweet as I would have liked)
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
2 tablespoons of glucose syrup or light corn syrup
60ml of rum (I used 80ml)

Add all the dry ingredients together and give a good stir. Then add liquid glucose and rum. Mine was a little dry, so I added some more - just enough to combine and bind.

Additionally, I added about 60g of sultanas

Chill the mixture and then roll into 36 x 2.5cm balls

Well - I didn't chill mine, and I rolled them into rather large balls. I only got 24.... :-P More like two bites than one !

I greased my hands every few balls with some butter as the mixture is really sticky and then placed them on a silicone baking tray liner. I then popped them in the fridge for 30 mins whilst I prepared some toppings.

For toppings, I used some melted chocolate. I've had best results with chocolate using Callebaut Belgian Couverture chocolate for things like this. I used real, cocoa powder, icing sugar white and milk chocolate. I've always had poor results coating things using ordinary supermarket chocolate. The Belgian couverture chocolate is easier to temper and tastes nicer anyay....

I rolled all the balls in the melted chocolate which additionally had a tiny amount of butter added to help it flow a little better for coating. Tap the ball (balanced on the fork) on the edge of the bowl to get rid of excess.

Rather than just roll some in cocoa or icing, I DID first roll them in chocolate too - which gave them the spikey hedgehog look. I used two forks to roll them and lift them out.

With the ones that were only chocolate coated, I tried to drizzle with white chocolate. It was a bit of a globby mess. It worked well - but I'll actually do this with a piping bag fitted with a tiny plain round nozzle this time.

They hardened nice and quickly and lift easily off the silicone sheet. The excess left at the bottom of some was very easily trimmed away.

The cute snowflake wrappers arre a little on the big side for 2.5cm chocolates - but worked well with my big bruiser sized ones ! The wrappers are available to buy on our website and are ideal for mini muffins / cupcakes.

One of my colleagues asked me on Saturday "Did you buy those from Thorntons?". I told him off for being cheeky - until he correctly pointed out that's it's a rather good compliment if someone thinks they're bought from a chocolate shop.. Sorry Rich !

They do look really cute in little cellophane bags or homemade boxes. I'm almost sure I'll be popping these in my Christmas 2010 hampers.

Customers seemed to enjoy them - the rum balls disappeared quick enough. Given I only got 24 out of the mix however, I did then go on to also make carrot cake afterwards - but forgot to take photos. Oh well....?

Sarah-Jane Nash - - silicone bakeware specialist cook shop Nov 2010

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