Sometimes I try to think back on the presents I received as a tiny person/child, and recall which ones excited me most. The first thing that comes to mind is The Littlest Pet Shop. Some kids collected Pogs. Some collected dolls (I kinda did, I was more into stuffed animals). My brother collected Ninja Turtles. But I was absolutely OBSESSED with these tiny plastic animals and their supplies. They were just SO. Goddamned. CUTE. Key word here is “were”. They’re stupid now. They all have those gigantic Bratz Doll eyes. They’ve turned my adorable, relatively realistic animals into whores. This is what they looked like when they first came out. I had all of those! And the rabbit family, and hamsters and gerbils, and puppies… And then one Christmas I got the actual Pet Shop case. I crapped my PJs.
It’s really sad… I think I was more excited about The Littlest Pet Shop than when I got my first bike.
“I’m scared, what the hell is this?”
I mean, I was excited. It was a freakin’ bicycle! (Biiicycle…) I was gonna go places! But, y’know… it was bigger than me…
I’m not scared of much any more. Raaah. I am, however, intimidated by liquor. Beer and wine, no problem. But rum, vodka, whiskey, tequila… it’s all territory I step lightly in.
Unless I put it in food, in which case, I’ll go as nuts as I did over my Littlest Pet Shop. Biiiicycle…
Gingerbread Rum Balls
adapted from Joy of Baking
1 1/2 cups toasted pecans (I used a blend of pecans and almonds)
1 1/4 cups graham crackers or cookies*
1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 Tbsp cocoa powder
Several heavy dashes of ginger, cinnamon, and cloves
2 Tbsp molasses (or if you’re hesitant about molasses, sub half agave, honey, or maple syrup)
2 Tbsp spiced rum
2 Tbsp marsala wine (you can also use Port, Sherry, Madeira, etc. Any kind of sweet liqueur, basically)*In regards to the cookies or graham crackers used, I did a gluten-free version, using rice crispy cereal, but I measured by weight, and used a little more powdered sugar. If you need tips on that, e-mail me. Otherwise, I’ve usually used graham cookies/crackers in the past.
1) In a food processor, finely chop the pecans (you want them to be as powdery as possible). Transfer them to a bowl, and then process the cookies and powdered sugar. Mix with the pecans, and add the cocoa powder.
2) Add the molasses, rum and wine. Mix it aaaalllll up. Add more booze if necessary, you want all the dry ingredients to be moist.
3) Now cover with plastic wrap and chill for an hour or so. Then, in a medium or large bowl, whisk together one to two cups of powdered sugar and a spoonful of cocoa powder. No need for exact measurements, or even getting all the clumps out of the sugar.
4) Wet your hands and roll the rum ball mix into… you guessed it, balls. Whatever size you like, but approximately one inch around is a good size (to all the pervs, shut up). You’ll have to occasionally rinse your hands, but the water will keep the mixture from sticking in a very annoying manner. Gently toss them in the powdered sugar to coat them all over.
And you’re done. These boozy babies have a good shelf life if kept in the fridge. Up to about two weeks. Maybe longer. This gingerbread version is a bit of an experiment. Definitely not for the faint of heart, as it is dark, spicy, and of course, boozy. Pretty much what you’d think though– gingerbread meets spiced rum. I always use half Marsala wine because it tames the intensity of the rum, resulting in a smoother alcohol flavor. The first time I tried the original recipe with all rum, and it was like, “Ouch, baby”. If you want to try the original version, replace all the molasses with agave, and skip the ginger, cinnamon and cloves.
Give one of these to a child and watch their facial expression. That should be fun.