Best Rum Balls (America's Test Kitchen)

"This recipe is from Christoper Kimball of Cook's Illustrated and America's Test Kitchen. It makes about five dozen rum balls that are intense, fudgy, chewy, complex, and balanced. Recipe can be halved or doubled. Plan ahead, since these are best when left to mellow for at least a few days in the refrigerator. They keep very well and can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a couple of weeks or frozen for up to a few months. Cooking time is refrigeration time. Use vanilla for a non-alcoholic version (sometimes called moon balls)."
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Ready In:
1hr 30mins
60 rumballs




  • Place the butter and chocolate in a small saucepan over low heat. When melted, stir until smooth and set aside to cool until warm.
  • Meanwhile, combine the wafers, sugar, cocoa, pecans and salt in a large mixing bowl. Note that any lumps can be worked out once the wet ingredients are added.
  • Once the chocolate/butter mixture is cooled, transfer it to the bowl of a food processor (no need to wash it after grinding the wafers and nuts). Break the almond paste into small pieces and add it to the chocolate mixture. Process until smooth, about one minute. Add the sour cream and process until well combined, about 20 seconds. Transfer to the large bowl containing the dry ingredients. Add the rum and stir until the mixture is smooth and homogeneous, about two minutes. Refrigerate until firm, at least an hour and up to overnight.
  • Form the mixture into one-inch balls and roll in chocolate sprinkles. Place on a parchment or wax paper-lined baking sheet and refrigerate until very firm, about one hour. Transfer to covered containers and allow flavors to mature for three days and up to two weeks. Remove from refrigerator about 20 minutes before serving.

Questions & Replies

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  1. everyone loved them. I made a mixture of sprinkles, ground chocolate, and cocoa powder to roll the balls in- it was a hit!
  2. The flavour of these rum balls is exceptional. The recipe I've used for years is the same as this one except mine called for white rum. I don't know enough about rum to guess what difference Meyer's dark rum would make. A few comments: 1. I found that with the white rum it is best to wait 2 full weeks for the flavours to mature. The first time I made this recipe, I tasted it every couple of days and each time there was a significant improvement in the smoothness of the taste and it was best after 2 weeks. So I would advise that you plan ahead as the recipe suggests. 2. Keep in mind that the rum balls have to be stored in the refrigerator. I have friends who have to store these strategically so that they are not eaten; so not only do you need to have room in your refrigerator, you may also require enough room to hide them. 3. I have substituted different liquors for the rum: Grand Marnier, Amaretto, Frangelico, Bailey's Irish Cream, and probably a few others. These liquors are much sweeter than rum so you might want to reduce the confectioner's sugar by 1/4 - 1/2 cup if you decide to use them. Since these liquors are much smoother than rum, they mature more quickly - about 2 or 3 days or perhaps as much as a week. The only reason to wait a week is that the confectioner’s sugar taste may not have mellowed as quickly as the liquor. When I use many different liquors, I double the recipe and then divide it into the batches for the number of liquors I intend to use. 4. Here in Canada the vanilla wafers come in a 312g (or 11 ounce) box and it takes 2 boxes to make 4 cups of finely ground wafers. 5. I don't know what a generous pinch of salt is so I always use salted butter and omit the generous pinch. 6. Once all ingredients are combined, I knead the mixture to ensure it is well blended and soft. Afterwards I cool it in the refrigerator until it is firm enough to be rolled into balls and soft enough to pick up sprinkles. If the mix is a bit cold, rolling it in your hands will warm the outside so that it will pick up the sprinkles. A 1 or 1.5 tablespoon cookie scoop will significantly cut down the time it takes to roll the rum balls. I scoop the mixture until it is all gone and then roll each scoop in my hands. If the mixture is not firm enough, refrigerate until it is easier to handle. 7. Even though chocolate sprinkles are traditional for rum balls, I found that they don't stick as well as coconut, ground almonds, ground pecans, confectioner's sugar, etc. And confectioner's sugar is best applied just before serving since it has a way of incorporating itself into the rum balls if left on for any length of time. 8. After rolling the rum balls in the sprinkles, they have to be cooled again so that they keep their round shape. I've made the mistake of putting them directly into cookie tins after rolling and their shape flattens somewhat, although there was nothing wrong with the flavour. 9. A friend of mine makes these and dips them in melted chocolate so that they have a solid coating on them as they mature; apparently it makes the liquor quite strong when you bite into them. 10. I have stored these in the refrigerator for up to a month. I'm not sure why the ATK recipe says they can only be stored for 2 weeks. All that alcohol and sugar is a powerful preservative. If you are worried about how long they will keep, they can be frozen. Hope this helps.
  3. Thank you, Lee_99999, for taking the time to post such a detailed review. Before trying a new recipe it's always helpful to know as much about it as possible and your review is all inclusive! Thanks again.


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