Fruit & Nut Rum Balls

Fruit & Nut Rum BallsThere might be some kind of rule that says I have to post lots of Christmas cookie recipes in December but I don’t really care.  I actually have so many cookie recipes I could post here (literally dozens and dozens) that I couldn’t choose between them and decided to share this recipe instead.  I make these-I call them candy I guess-every single year.  And every year I say to myself, “Self?  These are really good!”  I don’t know why I forget about it for eleven months and then am surprised every year but I don’t know why people buy food to feed squirrels either.  Both are a mystery to me.

Back to the food, the beauty of this recipe is that, well…its beautiful!  I love the colors of the dried fruit.  Actually, it just occurred to me that it is kind of like fruit cake, but without the cake part.  Hmmm.  You would think I would have noticed that before now…Any-hoo, don’t be turned off by that!  These little nuggets are sticky and sweet and chewy and rich and mmmmm.  Years ago, when I made them the first time, my Mom and my sisters were there to test them out with me.  We all took a bite and our eyes got big and round!  “Wow!  These are great!” was the general consensus.  So I have been making them ever since.  I like the fact that they aren’t just the same old thing you find on a cookie tray and they are really fun to pass out to the neighbors.  Bonus!  They are no bake!  They are just so darn festive I hear Jingle Bells playing in my head every time I eat one!
Fruit & Nut Rum Balls Fruit & Nut Rum Balls Fruit & Nut Rum BallsOne Year Ago: Brown Sugar Shortbread

Fruit & Nut Rum Balls
Recipe adapted from Eating Well

1/2 c dried cranberries
1/2 c chopped, dried apricots
2 eggs
3/4 c sugar
1 c chopped walnuts and pecans (1/2 c each)
1 tsp rum extract
shredded, sweetened coconut

Stir together the first four ingredients in a medium sized sauce pan and place over medium heat.  Cook stirring constantly until the mixture turns a kind of pale yellow and it starts to thicken.  This will take about five minutes.  As soon as you notice that it is starting to get thick (this will be around 165-170 degrees on a candy thermometer if you want to get technical) pull it off the heat and stir in the chopped nuts and the rum extract.  Set aside to cool.  Once it is cool enough to handle, scoop out scant teaspoonfuls onto a sheet pan covered in wax paper.  You should get about 2-2 1/2 dozen out of this recipe.  Chill the sheet pan if necessary to make them sticky enough to hold a ball shape.  When your mixture is stiff enough (either right out of the pan or after it has chilled a bit) roll them gently into a small ball and then roll in coconut.  Chill completely and store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to five days.  You can freeze these for up to a month too!

Note: Chopped dates, chopped dried cherries, and raisins work well here too.  So do chopped pistachios so feel free to experiment!