Christmas rum balls


  • 1kg stale sponge cake (or pandoro)
  • 80g good-quality cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup raisins or craisins (dried cranberries), roughly chopped
  • 200g dark chocolate
  • 60g unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup plum, strawberry or seedless raspberry jam
  • 1/3 cup dark rum
  • 1/2 cup desiccated coconut, to finish


Popped into a giftbox or ribbon-wrapped jar, these rum balls make a lovely gift at Christmas time. They are also a good crowd-pleaser at parties and can be served as an after-dinner treat. They don't have to be kept in the fridge but will hold their shape better if they are kept chilled, especially if you're making them in advance.


To make the rum ball mixture
Tear the cake into pieces and put it through a food processor to form cake crumbs. Put the crumbs into a large mixing bowl with the cocoa and raisins.
Melt the dark chocolate and butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Once melted, add the jam and rum. Pour the warm liquid over the cake crumbs and mix with a metal spoon until all the ingredients are well combined.
To form the rum balls
Line the base of a shallow baking tray with desiccated coconut.
Test to make sure the rum ball mixture is not too warm to handle. If so, allow it to cool just a little, but do not refrigerate it or the mixture will harden and the coconut won't adhere.
Take a small portion of the mixture and roll it into a walnut-sized ball using the palms of your hands (expect to get a bit chocolatey and buttery). Put the ball onto the coconut. Repeat until the tray is three-quarters full. Shake the tray so the rum balls roll around and are completely covered in the coconut. Transfer to a storage container and sprinkle some extra coconut over the balls to prevent them from sticking together. Repeat the process, topping up the coconut as required.
COOK'S TIP: if you don't like coconut, the rum balls can be dusted with rich dark cocoa powder, giving them a more sophisticated, sometimes almost bitter, taste depending on the cocoa powder you use. If using this option, cool the rum balls to room temperature on a flat tray before dusting because the cocoa will be absorbed into the balls if they are too soft and sticky.

This recipe appeared in the post Yo ho ho and 45,000 gallons of rum! on December 12, 2013.

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