Rum balls have been pure intoxication over years. Gooey, chocolaty, boozy Rum Balls are beautiful memories of childhood. Though I do not like the sweetness of Rum Balls anymore, yet I dream of a box of Rum Ball from Jalajoga, the once famous bakery of Kolkata. I still close my eyes and can name all those who used to bring Rum Balls to our house in Jodhpur Park in the 1980’s. Jalajoga gave way to Kathleens, Monginis and then to outlets of Flurys at malls and once again Rum Balls made its frequent appearance. Rum balls at Nahoums over time remained ever gooey and flavoured. The rum ball triggers an avalanche of memories—of childhood afternoons and evenings after my playtime. Often rum balls awaited me for a snack after school. And if I could convince my Ma to tuck in a rum ball in the school tiffin box for the next day, I knew my maths class would not seem so boring. The fragrance of the tiffin box and the looks of my friends made me feel like a queen.The very word Rum in the entire story made it special for a kid with a lot of inquisitiveness for things forbidden.
It was few days back when I was reading a part of the seven-volume novel, À la Recherche du Temps Perdu (In Search of Lost Time) by Marcel Proust that memories of Rum Balls became vivid. And with it I remembered the white paper boxes with Jalajoga written in blue which were either packed with Rum Balls or flaky patties and often brought home by Baba.
The rum ball, is a common British name of a ‘rum truffle’. It is a small cake that is akin more towards a chocolate. They are a truffle-like confection made from leftover cake, sometimes with a few biscuits thrown into the mix, which is crumbled up with melted dark chocolate and rum, rolled into balls, and coated with sprinkles or cocoa.Some recipes include dried fruit, glace cherries or ground nuts. Some give the rum a miss to make a suitable-for-children adaptation. Although to my mind, a rum ball without the rum is—well, not a rum ball at all. Because they aren’t baked, the alcoholic kick remains. To my young self, rum balls were part of the grown-up taste sphere,that I suppose was its overriding appeal.
Rum balls are popular in Britain, and are also a tradition in Germany, Austria, Slovenia, Hungary and the Czech Republic. Rum balls are quick and easy to make and have the ‘no cooking’ advantage as they often appeared in those ‘How to Hostess a Party’ articles of the 1950’s and 60’s.
Traditionally Danish Rum Balls are also known as Romkugler. Romkugler is found in every bakery in Denmark are very dense, have a rich chocolate taste and a twist of rum.Rum balls were originally invented by the Danish bakers who were worried at the end of each day when they found unsold cakes at the counter. Even though they did their best to make the right amount of bread, buns, Danish pastry and cakes so that all of it would be sold during the day; they always had leftovers which would not be fresh enough to be sold the day after.The bakers came up with a clever plan where they assembled all the Danish pastry and cakes, which were not sold during the day; they then mixed it all together with cocoa powder and some rum. The sticky dough was then rolled into balls, decorated with coconut flakes or chocolate sprinkle and then sold the next day for a low price.
Over the years when I started baking, Rum balls became a regular at my kitchen. In my recipe for homemade rum balls, you would need some cake leftovers, raspberry jam, rum,cocoa powder and some coconut flakes for decoration. I always save my cake leftovers in the freezer and when I have enough, I thaw it and make rum balls. Cake leftovers after Christmas make it the best time to rustle up Rum Balls. For the Rum Balls I mix all the cake leftovers in a food processor and run until they all crumble.Then I add jam, rum and cocoa powder and run the food processor until the dough has a uniform consistency.If I am in a mood to overdo, I drizzle some condensed milk too at this stage. Sometimes I add semi crushed raisins and cashews soaked in rum. Remember not to add the rum which was used to soak the dry fruits. I roll the dough into about eight balls and then roll them balls in coconut flakes or chocolate flakes.You may choose to roll over the balls in melted chocolate at this point which would soon harden and give a glaze. Leave the rum ball in the fridge until they are to be served.
Have seen both grown ups and children eating a Rum Ball in myriad ways. Some gulp it straight, others cut them into halves and scoop the cakey part and leave the chocolate part to be had later. After I wrote this on Rum balls and made a batch, I am tempted enough to try one after ages, yes halving it and enjoying the rummy aroma. Heady feeling I suppose. Cheers to a gulp of the chocolate and rum…. Memories and happy ones always.