Thursday, December 19, 2013

edible alcoholic playdough, or rum balls... now with whiskey!

In which our plucky heroine takes the wayback machine to this recipe from my childhood, that my mother would make, with my help, as a special treat for my father's birthday celebration. Back in the day, the home microwave was merely a gleam in the eye of some Litton engineer, and melting the chocolate was a tricksy thing done carefully in a double boiler.

Nowadays, a pyrex container and a few careful rounds in the microwave takes care of the most difficult portion of the preparation; the rest of the effort consists of crushing cookies and mixing the various components together, well within the skillset of a useful child, or an exhausted adult...

12 oz chocolate chips
1/2 c sour cream
1/4 c rum or whiskey
3/4 c confectioners sugar
1/4 t salt
2 c plain cookie crumbs

To start with, the plain cookies need to be reduced to fine crumbs. What sort of cookies you use can vary; the original recipe calls for vanilla wafers, but given the long list of multisyllabic "ingredients" in contemporary nilla wafers, I have opted for various other simple dry cookies as a base, most commonly some form of organic graham crackers, as they are easy to crumble finely. What you do want is a cookie that is dry rather than a soft and rich, as the rest of the ingredients will add plenty of richness, and the dry cookie base needs be absorbent. (It would be interesting sometime to try this with a gingersnap base, though, for a completely different type of confection)

But enough digression, first crush those cookies until they are almost as fine as cornmeal. Mix together with the confectioners sugar and the wee dab of salt, in a large mixing bowl. Melt the chocolate in the microwave, carefully until just melty, it will look like it is holding its shape, until you push at it with a spoon, then it is obvious that it is chocolava underneath. DO NOT BURN your chocolate.

Stir the sour cream into the chocolate. It will look all terrible and clumpy for a minute or two, then become incredibly dark and glossy. When the sour cream is entirely mixed in, then add the alcohol. For me, the choice is Meyers Dark Rum, because that is what these were always made with when I was growing up. But now, most of my friends like whiskey far more than rum, and so I indulge them... truly I suspect that any high proof alcohol would be suitable. It will take some doing to incorporate the alcohol, and the chocolate will not look quite as beautiful, but keep on...

Finally add your chocolate mixture to the sugar and cookie mixture, and combine. Be persistent. It will get thick, and sort of crumbly, the final texture is rather sandy/gritty and not very appealing. Do Not Worry. Then comes the tedious fun part, where you shape your bowlful of proto-treats into many very small spheres. I usually make these about the size of a dime or penny, as they are much better as one bite treats. Once you have made the sphere, they can be rolled in either more confectioners sugar, or in cocoa powder as a final touch, and to help keep them from sticking together. They keep fairly well in the fridge, if you can keep from eating them all up.

Best made a few days before you want to serve them, as they are much improved by some aging, which allows the moisture to soften the cookie crumbs and the alcohol flavor to permeate the entire confection.


  1. I may have to make some of these after Christmas when there may be leftover Ginger Snaps and rum. I love spiced cookies and chocolate together.

  2. I have been envisioning all sorts of tasty combinations, like double chocolate with coffee liqueur, or ginger with spiced rum, and realised that with the right sort of cookies these could also be gluten free...

  3. I'm thinking about cinnamon graham crackers and ground almonds. . .

  4. Okay y'all are making me hungry! 9:40am too early to eat rum balls??? :-)

    I'm going to see if I can find my recipe somewhere at home (why does a little house suddenly become Buckingham Palance when you're looking for something???). If not, your recipe sounds very good, and I love the idea of substituting whisky for the rum :-)

  5. Pearl, you know what Jimmy Buffet says, right? "It's Five O'Clock Somewhere..."