Rum Ball Recipe

"Raisin, Dates and Nuts - YUMMMMM!"

rum ball recipe

This rum ball recipe is one of those Italian cookie recipes that came from my grandma. It was a standby on my grandma's holiday cookie platter. And I remember copying it down from her recipe book when I went to visit her back in the 1980s. It sat in my pile of recipes that were written on papers, cut out from magazines for about 10 years before I branched out and made them.

This rum ball recipe was very typical of my grandma - it had a lot of extras. Which means, here are 4,121 substitutions allowed. See the substitutions section below. I'd say there are a couple of things YOU have to stick with. One is the rum (duh), and the amount of raisins and/or dates. But the substitutions will explain.

Now, if you think this might be too much to take in and still want a "alcohol" type "ball" recipe. Check out my Bourbon Ball Recipe. It's got less ingredients and still gives you a nice "smack" that you are looking for in these type recipes.

The big secret to success with this rum ball recipe or the Bourbon Ball Recipe is to LET IT SIT at least 24 hours. You want the flavors to permeate through the gingersnaps and the for the dessert to have an overall light rum flavor.

In my opinion, I never thought my grandma put enough rum in this. But to honor her, I've kept the recipe the way she gave it to me. Now.... I did tweak my Bourbon Ball Recipe to be sinfully strong , just because I like my desserts to be a little heavy on the alcohol side.

A majority of Italian dessert recipes use alcohol, but as always, you can use flavorings as substitutes - or if need be totally omit. Enjoy! And happy holidays to you and those who are dear to you.

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Rum Ball Recipe

YIELD: A heck of a lot! (4 1/2 - 5 dozen)


* 3/4 cup of butter

* 1 cup gingersnaps (see substitution ideas below)

* 1 cup coarsely chopped Brazil nuts or cashews (see substitutions below)

* 3/4 cup walnuts

* 1 cup confectioner' sugar

* 1 cup flour

* 1 1/2 cup pitted dates

* 1 1/2 cup golden raisins

* 1 tsp ground cinnamon

* 1 tsp fresh grated nutmeg

* 1/4 cup rum

* 1/4 cup light corn syrup


* In large skillet over medium heat, melt butter, add Brazil nuts, cashews and walnuts.

* Cook 3-4 minutes stirring frequently until golden.

* Add sugar and flour. Cook 5-7 minutes stir constantly until mixture is golden brown. Watch it carefully so it doesn't burn. Don't text, don't try and clean the counters - seriously, watch this so it doesn't burn.

* Remove from heat and let cool in another bowl for at least 30 minutes. (Now you can clean your counters.)

* Stir dates, raisins, gingersnap crumbs, cinnamon and nutmeg into cooled nut mixture.

* In another bowl stir rum and corn syrup to blend.

* Stir in the candy mixture until thoroughly moistened.

* Roll,mixture by level teaspoonfuls into balls.

* Place each ball in a foil bon bon cup or on a paper.

* Sprinkle lightly with sugar if you wish.

* Store in tightly covered container at LEAST 24 hours. This is what makes these killer - STORING THEM! These keep about 2 weeks.

* Give yourself about to chop and prepare.

All these nuts, really?

As long as you keep total amount of nuts equal to what is in the recipe - you could use any ONE or all of these.

  • cashews (see note below)
  • walnuts
  • Brazil nuts
  • Just do the math and keep the same AMOUNT of nuts. If you don't these might get too sticky if you skimp.

    NOTE: Italian dessert recipes don't generally use pecans or cashews. But, it's not an unpardonable sin to use these. I put them in the recipe, because that is how my grandma made them. She liked to add some American-type ingredients to her cooking. It made her feel like she "fit in more" with her lady friends who had been in America forever.

    Fresh nutmeg, who has that?

    Okay, not everyone has fresh nutmeg. BUT it is awesome if you ever have the chance to get some! Yes, you can use the nutmeg in a can or jar. It will still work!

    Can I substitute the rum?

    Hmmm, weren't you looking for a " RUM Ball Recipe"? If you absolutely didn't want to use rum ~ you could substitute orange juice.

    Raisins and dates - what can I work with?

    The success of this rum ball recipe is more about keeping the ratios and total amounts with what is written. So again, do the math. If you don't do the math this will be rum sticky balls. And that right there just doesn't even sound pretty. Either use all raisins or all dates, or mix em up to equal the 3 cups.

    Don't want gingersnaps?

    Here's some alternatives. You will need to add a bit of spices to get the flavor needed. I've noted those next to the substitution

  • chocolate wafers - may need a touch of ginger and a bit of additional nutmeg.
  • graham cracker crumbs - I'd add cloves, a tad more nutmeg, ginger.
  • And the gross American favorite - vanilla wafers. The amount of spices needed to flavor a boring preservative bland vanilla wafer would make your eyes water from reading the long list. However, it's doable. Go ahead if you must.

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