Monday, December 20, 2010

Rum Balls and Christmas Memories

“Aw, pleeeese, just one?” we’d beg in unity.

“You kids stay out of the Christmas cookie tins till Christmas Eve”, Mom would chide, “or else, Santa won’t come”; the annual holiday admonition that falls upon deaf ears.

I remember the infinite variety of colorful holiday cookies prepared my Mom and her sisters in preparation of the joyous Holidays. Aunt Anna Faye excelled with her chocolate chip cookies, Mom, her fudge, and Aunt Bernie traditionally made Rum or Bourbon Balls, which, in particular, was an anomaly considering our teetotaler Christian fundamentalist family was taught if liquor touched thy lips, ye went straight to a blazing Hell riding the razor blade o’ eternal damnation. Odd considering Bourbon whiskey was invented in the late eighteenth century by Baptist minister Elijah Craig from Scott County, Kentucky.

Aunt Bernie’s ‘Demon’ Rum Balls were secreted in the cupboards high above the humming refrigerator. Well, we all have learned when you forbid a youngster to do a certain something; it instantly makes them desire it that much more. So, cousins and siblings teamed up, clandestinely scaled the countertops, found the tin of Rum Balls sequestered behind the cans of jellied cranberries, grinning at each other in satisfaction, we eagerly quenched our youthful curiosity by sampling three or four and proceeded to cop our first buzz; pleasantly blotto. I’ll forever remember the explosive mouth-burn of my first contact to alcohol, then feeling the liquor glide warmly down my esophagus into my belly. Whoa! I now understand why everyone took naps after their giggle-filled baking event that always ended up with the sisters robustly harmonizing upbeat, classic holiday carols. When cooking with liquor, remember the phrase, “Too many cooks spoil the broth”? Well, too much broth can spoil the cook, if you smell what I’m cooking; a little in the cookies, a snort for you.

Know what I’d like for Christmas? For everyone to keep their money, pay their bills, sit down together to enjoy a modest, wholesome meal and enjoy being part of a family. I want people to refuse manipulation by emotionally tinged commercials and midnight sales. I want people to put aside greed and status seeking, and the covetous adoration of materialism. Instead, I wish everyone would give each other hugs and be thankful for what they have.

Christmas, when the world falls in love, is about giving, so I’m sharing my recipe for Rum Balls. This no bake dessert’s alcohol content can be pretty raw and strong. If you do not want to use rum, use rum extract to taste. I learned the hard way one unfortunate Christmas not to serve Rum Balls if you have a recovering alcoholic in the house. Lesson learned.

Holiday Rum Balls

In this simple, traditional, not cook recipe, I use almond flour which is nothing more than almonds processed in your food processor or coffee grinder. It can be found at all whole foods grocers including Kroger. Kroger also carries a healthier version of Vanilla Cookies if you cannot use almond flour.

(Pssst! Don’t mention they’re healthy)

2 cups fine vanilla wafer crumbs or Almond flour (Kroger has a brand of vanilla cookies without all the sugar and trans fats)

1 ½ cups confectioners’ sugar

2 tbs. cocoa powder

½ cup walnuts, chopped fine (Omega 3 EFA’s)

3 tbs. ground flax seeds (Fiber and Omega 3’s)

¼ cup plus 1 tbs. dark rum

¼ cup Brown Rice Syrup (Low Carb)

2 tbs. organic butter, melted or Smart Balance

• In a large bowl combine the wafer crumbs or almond flour, ½ the sugar, walnuts, flax, rum, rice syrup, melted butter and knead together.

• Roll into 1 inch balls and then roll the around in the ½ cup of remaining sugar and all the cocoa powder till coated

• Arrange the balls on a baking sheet, cover well, and let set for 48 hours @ air temperature.

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