This version of old-school rum balls amps up the flavor with a few clever ingredient swaps, like graham crackers instead of traditional wafer cookies, honey to replace corn syrup, and warm spiced rum for white rum. A pinch of cinnamon brings out the rum’s spices, while a toss in coarse sugar adds sparkle and crunch. Just think of them as a cross between cake balls and fudge: chewy, slightly soft, and definitely boozy.
For a vegan version, feel free to swap out the honey for maple syrup—just make sure the graham crackers you use are also honey-free. I like to make these a day before serving to let the rum flavor intensify and the texture to become extra fudgy.
Makes 34 rum balls
- 1 cup (92 grams) toasted unsalted walnuts
- 3 sleeves graham crackers (27 full crackers/412 grams)
- 1/3 cup (30 grams) natural, unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 cup (118 milliliters) honey
- 1/4 cup (59 milliliters) spiced dark rum
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup (125 grams) coarse sugar, such as turbinado or sanding sugar
Add the walnuts to the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade attachment. Process until the walnuts are finely ground and are the texture of coarse sand, 15 to 20 seconds.
To the ground walnuts, add the graham crackers, cocoa powder, cinnamon, and salt. Process until the mixture is the texture of breadcrumbs, 30 to 45 seconds. Add the honey, rum, and vanilla extract and process until the mixture starts to pull away from the sides of the bowl, 20 to 25 seconds.
Portion out the dough using a rounded tablespoon and roll into balls. Immediately roll the balls in the coarse sugar and place them on a parchment-lined baking sheet. (Don’t let them sit too long before rolling them in sugar or they’ll dry out.) Let sit for 30 minutes before serving.
Storage: The rum balls will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 week.
Reprinted with permission from “Cookies.” Copyright 2021 by Jesse Szewczyk. Photographs copyright 2021 by Chelsea Kyle. Published by Clarkson Potter/Publishers, an imprint of Penguin Random House.