Rum Ball Cookies

November 29, 2021
2 Ratings
Photo by Julia Gartland. Prop Stylist: Alya Hameedi. Food Stylist: Anna Billingskog.
  • Prep time 25 minutes
  • makes 25 rum balls
Author Notes

Rum balls remind me of a boozy chocolate baklava sans the pastry. One or two are probably enough, but I’ve been known to go through a whole handful in one sitting during the holidays. I prefer the texture of the vanilla/Nilla wafers to be as smooth as possible, with any crunch arising solely from the nuts. Don’t forget to mix the rum and honey together separately or else the honey won’t dissolve and the mixture might get unevenly sweet. I also like to add a little bit of cornstarch to the confectioners' sugar to reduce stickiness; this will vary with the humidity levels. Save those little bags of silica gel beads that show up in your dried food goods and reuse them when storing the rum balls.
Nik Sharma

What You'll Need
  • Rum Balls
  • 1 box (11 ounces/310 grams) Nilla wafers
  • 1 cup (120 grams) unsalted raw or toasted pistachios
  • 1 cup (120 grams) confectioners' sugar
  • 1/4 cup (20 grams) unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
  • 1/2 cup (120 milliliters) spiced rum, like Old Monk or Captain Morgan
  • 1/4 cup (60 milliliter) runny honey
  • 1 teaspoon (5 milliliter) vanilla bean paste or extract
  • Zest of 1 orange, optional
  • To Roll
  • 2 cups (240 grams) confectioners' sugar, sifted
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  1. In a food processor, pulse the wafers on high speed until finely ground. Sift through a fine-mesh sieve held over a large mixing bowl. Return any coarse bits to the food processor and pulse until fine. Return the wafer powder to the large bowl.
  2. Add the pistachios and pulse for a few seconds on high speed until the nuts are coarsely ground. Add the ground nuts to the large bowl. Add the confectioners' sugar and cocoa powder and whisk to combine evenly.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk the rum, honey, vanilla bean paste, and orange zest until the honey is completely dissolved. Pour this liquid into the large bowl and fold with a silicone spatula until the mixture absorbs all the liquid and there are no visible dry flecks. Cover and let sit for 10 minutes.
  4. Make the confectioners' sugar mixture for rolling: Whisk the confectioner’s sugar and cornstarch in a mixing bowl. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  5. Divide the rum ball mixture into 25 equal parts (about 1 heaping tablespoon/30 grams each). Shape each into a 1-inch (2.5-centimeter) ball using your hands. Place a few balls (5 to 6) at a time in the confectioners' sugar mixture and toss to coat well. Transfer to the lined baking sheet. Repeat until all the balls are coated. Take the leftover confectioners' sugar and transfer to a Tupperware container large enough to hold the rum balls in one layer. You can also store them in individual cupcake paper cups to hold them.
  6. If the Tupperware container isn’t wide enough to hold all the rum balls, coat the base of the Tupperware with 1/4 cup of the confectioners' sugar mixture. Line the rum balls in it. Top with a sheet of parchment paper and another 1/4 cup of the confectioners' sugar mixture and lay the rum balls out. Repeat depending on the depth of the container and the number of balls. Store the rum balls in the refrigerator for up to 1 month in an airtight container. Rum balls are best eaten at room temperature (with warm brandy). Rum balls taste the strongest the day they’re made, but their taste smoothes out after a day of storage.

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Nik Sharma is a molecular biologist turned cookbook author and food photographer who writes a monthly column for Serious Eats and the San Francisco Chronicle and is a contributor to the New York Times. His first cookbook, Season: Big Flavors, Beautiful Food, was a finalist for a James Beard Foundation award and an International Association of Culinary Professionals award. Nik resides in Los Angeles, California and writes the award-winning blog, A Brown Table. Nik's new book, The Flavor Equation will be released in October 2020.

1 Review

FrugalCat March 10, 2022
I used dark rum. I have a brand called Black Magic, but I imagine Black Seal, Myer's, or Krakken would be good too. I used walnuts instead of pistachios. Also, when storing the balls with the powdered sugar, you can mix a little cocoa powder in with the sugar.