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December 17, 2015

Ho, Ho, Ho and a Bottle of Rum

Boozy Goodness to Keep the Happy in the Holiday


I'm not sure where a bottle of whiskey fits into the Christmas celebration, but I'm fairly certain we could trace back the cracking open of a bottle of booze to days of yore. Back in the day, whiskey was expensive, the luxury of which was probably best enjoyed at the holiday feast when a Christmas ham or turkey was along for the ride.

Aside from warming you up from the inside and giving your cheeks a wonderful, rosy glow, booze is a strong preservative and could keep a fruit cake 'fresh' for months--if not years.

Maybe, the custom of adding a few slugs to baked goods was really about keeping them fresh, or, just livening things up during those dark winter days and cold nights.

Years ago, back in New Orleans, I worked with a woman who made a rum cake so strong, that after consuming a few slices, you felt tipsy and light headed. She refused to share her recipe, swearing to take it to her grave, but one day after imbibing half a cake together, I did get her to admit to making the cakes in late August and soaking them in rum until the arrival of Christmas season.

And, I'll admit that for years, I tried to figure out a recipe of my own, but those experiences are a foggy memory at best, and I couldn't tell you whether or not I ever achieved success. Finally, I decided to leave the rum cake behind and embrace, instead, the rum ball, and here, I have achieved my goal.

Behold, the dense, chewy, boozy rum ball cloaked in chocolate. These little gems will get you through the most stressful of holiday gatherings, make last minute shopping a breeze and give Santa something to look forward to after wiggling himself down the chimney.

But beware--these balls are potent and not meant for children, so keep your stash tucked far away from little fingers.

Mel's Rum Balls

2 boxes Ghirardelli extra chocolate brownies, baked in one pan and according to instructions
1 bag small ginger cookies, finely ground in a food processor
1 cup of dark rum
1 teaspoon of quality vanilla
3/4 cup of cocoa powder
1/4 cup of flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg
pinch of salt

melted dark and white chocolate
baker's sugar or sprinkles, for decorating

1. Bake brownies and allow to sit overnight, then crumble into the bowl of a large mixer.
2. Add the cocoa powder, flour, vanilla, rum and salt and process until smooth.
3. Add the ground ginger cookies, the cinnamon and nutmeg.
4. Dust hands with flour and scoop up the mixture; roll into a big ball and wrap in plastic wrap.
5. Put dough into the refrigerator and allow to set for 24-36 hours.
6. Remove dough from fridge and let sit at room temperature for an hour.
7. Pinch off small bits of dough and roll into balls.
8. Refrigerate rolled balls for at least an hour before dipping in melted chocolate and decorating.
9. Store in the refrigerator.

* The longer these sit, the stronger they get.

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