Tag Archives: candy

Rum Balls

I planned to write this post detailing how it included my favorite things — rum and balls, of course.  And then I was going to integrate how appropriate Rum Balls are during the holiday season because of the infamous Pete Schweddy’s Balls.  And then I planned to go into the typical territory that we all need alcohol to get through the holiday season with the stress of busy schedules, travel, not enough money, and families that drive us crazy.  And don’t forget the dinner table arguments with Republicans.  (I kid because I love, Dad.)

But I’m not going to do that.

Because in the last three weeks, our family and friends have been crushed by loss.  A dear family friend and the mother of one of our best friends lost her battle with pancreatic cancer.  A friend lost her best friend to a heart condition.  We (and some of our dearest, old friends) lost a friend we went to high school with when he died of a sudden heart attack at 38 years old (with a wife and two boys, 10 and 7).  And now, another friend has lost her 44 year old brother (with a 2 year old and a baby on the way) to a sudden heart attack also.

So my thought is this:  please take the next few days and embrace those around you.  Tell them how much you love them and how much they mean to you.  Don’t argue over whether someone bought a cheap bottle of wine.  Don’t worry that the presents aren’t wrapped yet (Cuizoo, I’m talking to you.)  If the pine needles haven’t been adequately vacuumed before the company comes, ignore it.  I have distinct memories of being a little girl with pine needles on the floor and in all of my presents.  It’s OK and it hasn’t scarred me or anything.  If you didn’t get the last two batches of cookies made, skip it.  Against all of my normal advice, go to the store and buy something pre-made.  I’m buying a deliciously non-organic, non-pastured, antibiotic-fed Honeybaked Ham for Christmas Eve.  So there!

As I was passing a fellow parent at school drop off today, she remarked that Christmas is only magical for kids because they don’t have to do any of the work.  True enough, I guess.  But we need to step outside all of the work and find the magic in simply being together, as contrived as that might sound.  We need to cut ourselves a few breaks and not hold one another to insane standards that aren’t attainable.  We need to let go of anger and silly bickering.

We need to think about children who have lost parents and remember that the only thing our kids truly care about is that we are together (even if they claim they are pissed about not getting a Wii).  We need to hold our siblings and parents and grandparents a little tighter, knowing that this ride doesn’t last forever.  Some of us have been taught these lessons already.  Some of us will learn soon enough.

So, Merry Christmas and Happy 2011.  Please hug those who make you feel safe.  Tell them that you love them.  Thank them for all they do for you.  And raise a glass to those we have lost too soon.

Rum Balls

Makes about 3 dozen

2 cups vanilla wafer crumbs, from a 9 oz. box (I do this in the food processor)
2 cups toasted pumpkin seeds, finely chopped (or other nuts … I do this in the processor too)
4 t. light corn syrup
Pinch of salt
2 generous shot glasses of good quality rum (I used a pure cane sugar rum)
1 1/2 cups of powdered sugar

1.  Combine vanilla wafer crumbs, chopped pumpkin seeds, corn syrup, and salt.  Stir in rum.  If mixture is too dry, you may need a bit more rum.  It should be clumpy, so you can roll into balls.

2.  Put powdered sugar on a plate.

3.  Taking about 1 heaping teaspoon of the rum ball mixture, roll into a ball using the palms of your hands.  Drop into powdered sugar and coat well.  Place onto a parchment lined baking sheet and repeat with remaining rum ball mixture.  When finished, place rum balls in a ziploc bag and store in the refrigerator.  They are best if made up ahead and allowed to “ripen” for a few days (my grandmother’s words).   (This is the only time you want balls to be ripe.)

Chocolate Easter Eggs: Two Ways

When I think of my grandmothers, I can’t help but think of food.  I think of my Mother’s mother (Nana) as the one who makes amazing soups, egg rolls and stir fries (how cool is that?), meringue cookies, mint jelly, and yorkshire pudding.  I am so fortunate to have her in my life and be able to share her with her great grandchildren.

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I remember my Dad’s mother (Grammy) as the one who made beautiful, cakey sugar cookies, fresh baked bread with butter and homemade raspberry jam, creamed corn, peanut brittle, and chocolate Easter Eggs.  When she died, I was able to look through her recipes and see her handwriting — what an amazing gift that is.  I instantly saw the connection between our roles as mothers, regardless of how different our lives were.  In the end, I think that our goals are/were the same:  to love our families fiercely and to create a wonderful backdrop for our children’s memories.   

And these Easter Eggs are permanently etched in my memory.  This is the wonder of real food — it forms the bonds of friends and family.  It is the most important reason that I cook — I sincerely believe there is no better way to enhance our relationships and create rich, lifelong memories.      

Happy Easter to all.

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Chocolate Easter Eggs with Sunbutter (Makes about 32)

(I should note that I have taken some liberties with the recipes to decrease the amount of sugar — feel free to change those things up if you like.  I have also obviously changed the first recipe because my daughter is severely nut allergic.  Peanut butter is the typical ingredient.)

16 oz. container Crunchy Sunflower Seed Butter (about 2 cups, or any other nut butter of your choice)
1 cup of unsalted butter (2 sticks), softened
1-2 cups of confectioners sugar (I used 1 cup which left them not overly sweet, but sweeten to taste)
Pinch of salt
1 t vanilla
2 cups brown rice krispies (or regular if you can’t find brown)
12 oz. semisweet chocolate, chopped

1.   Cream sunbutter (or other nut butter) with softened butter using an electric mixer.  Add in salt, confectioners sugar, and vanilla and beat until well mixed and fluffy.  (Add more confectioners sugar if you like).  

2.  Using a wooden spoon, stir in rice krispies by hand until incorporated.  

3.  Put mixture in the fridge for about an hour to firm up.

4.  When firm, line a large sheet pan with parchment paper.  Using about one heaping tablespoon of sunbutter mixture for each egg, roll them in your hands into an egg-like shape.  Place on parchment lined sheet.  

5.  Put sunbutter eggs in freezer for at least 30 minutes, until they are very firm.  

6.  Melt chocolate in a double boiler or gently in the microwave until completely melted and smooth.

7.  Using two forks, take one sunbutter egg and roll in melted chocolate until completely covered.(You may want to have two sheets of parchment and leave some of the sunbutter eggs in the freezer while you do this, so they don’t warm up too much.) Allow chocolate covered egg to remain on one fork while you use the other fork to tap the excess chocolate off the egg (tapping the handle of the fork that is holding the egg — if you don’t get enough of the excess chocolate off, you won’t have enough to dip them all).  Place chocolate covered egg on baking sheet lined with parchment.  Repeat with all eggs.  

8.  Refrigerate all eggs until hardened.  Store in refrigerator until ready to serve.  

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Chocolate Easter Eggs with Coconut (Makes about 15)

1/2 cup of coconut oil
1/4 cup of coconut milk
Pinch of salt
3/4 cup of confectioners sugar (or more to taste)
2 cups of unsweetened coconut, toasted
6 oz. semisweet chocolate 

1.  In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt coconut oil with coconut milk and pinch of salt.  

2.  Stir in confectioners sugar until incorporated.

3.  Stir in toasted coconut.   

4.  Put in refrigerator for about an hour until firm.

5.  When firm, line a large sheet pan with parchment paper.  Using about one heaping tablespoon of coconut mixture for each egg, roll them in your hands into an egg-like shape.  Place on parchment lined sheet.

6.  Put coconut eggs in freezer for at least 30 minutes, until they are very firm.

7.  Melt chocolate in a double boiler or gently in the microwave until completely melted and smooth.

8.  Using two forks, take one coconut egg and roll in melted chocolate until completely covered.(You may want to have two sheets of parchment and leave some of the coconut eggs in the freezer while you do this, so they don’t warm up too much.) Allow chocolate covered egg to remain on one fork while you use the other fork to tap the excess chocolate off the egg (tapping the handle of the fork that is holding the egg — if you don’t get enough of the excess chocolate off, you won’t have enough to dip them all).  Place chocolate covered egg on baking sheet lined with parchment.  Repeat with all eggs.  

(*You may want to sprinkle a few extra shreds of toasted coconut on these eggs right after you dip them so you can tell the difference between the two kinds if you are making both.)

7.  Refrigerate all eggs until hardened.  Store in refrigerator until ready to serve.

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