Grandma’s Rum Balls

Grandma’s Rum Balls

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Inspired by the memory of my grandmother’s bourbon balls
, my mom and I decided to return them to the Christmas menu this year after a decade long hiatus. We pulled out Grandma’s old recipe card (barely legible in her formal, but lovely antiquated script) and quickly shifted gears to the rum version as neither of us are big bourbon fans (and thus there wasn’t any bourbon in the house).

This is a simple recipe, but it is surprisingly time consuming to make all the balls. However, it is worth the effort as these are quite good and the perfect treat for Christmas Eve. Santa, can I get an amen?

Grandma’s Rum Balls
Adapted from Grandma’s recipe, originally adapted from Joy of Cooking

2 c finely crushed vanilla wafers
2 T dark cocoa powder
1 c sifted powdered sugar
1 c walnuts, finely chopped in food processor (should be all crumbs)
3 T honey
1/2 c dark rum
Additional powdered sugar for coating the balls

Mix the first four ingredients well. Add honey and rum and mix until moist throughout. Use your hands to form quarter size balls and roll through powdered sugar. Place on plate or in tin. Repeat process until you use all of the dough. Serve immediately or seal in airtight container. If serving several days later, roll through powdered sugar again as the sugar will have been absorbed.

Makes approximately 3 dozen balls which keep for about a week.

Chocolate Peppermint Chip Cookies

Chocolate Peppermint Chip Cookies

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I love Christmas cookies. Growing up, my mom, grandmother, and I would spend a messy, but wonderful Saturday before Christmas baking (and eating) cookie after cookie. The kitchen looked a bit like an explosion of flour and sugar, but at the end of the day we had at least a half dozen varieties to show for our work. Each year, my mom and I made sprintz cookies and toffee bars, while my grandmother made bourbon balls (and enjoyed a couple just to make sure they were perfectly spiked).

But the real fun was picking the new cookies we were going to try. One year it was cookie lollipops (perhaps the predecessor to cake pops?) Another dark chocolate cranberry jingles. Another elaborately decorated Santa cookies that included a coconut beard on each jolly old elf. Some were wonderful additions that made a comeback the following year, others were laughable failures that simply fell flat, but either way, we had a wonderful time.

As years passed our cookie filled Saturday changed. Grandma moved on to supervise from on high and Mom and I condensed our baking into an evening when my husband and I were visiting for Christmas. So this year, I decided to do the experimental cookie on my own and make sure Mom got to taste-test. Thankfully, Mom approved and I think this one will become a new staple.

Chocolate Peppermint Chip Cookies
Adapted from Ina Garten’s Chocolate White Chocolate Chunk Cookies

2 sticks of butter at room temperature
1 c. light brown sugar, packed
1 c. granulated sugar
2 t. pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2/3 c. unsweetened cocoa
2 c. flour
1 t. baking soda
1 t. kosher salt
1/2 bag of Andes Peppermint Crunch Baking Chips (approximately 5 ounces)

Cream butter and both sugars until light and fluffy. Add vanilla, eggs (one at a time), and mix well. Add cocoa and mix again. Sift together flour, baking soda, salt, and add to mixture on low speed. When well blended add peppermint chips and mix on low speed.

Drop dough on baking sheets in rounded spoon fulls. Bake for 12-13 minutes. Cool on baking sheet for 2-3 minutes then move to wire rack.

Yields: 45-50 cookies, depending on size.