If you’ve never bit into one of Fred Durrand’s Christmas rum balls, well, you might have a hard time understanding why he’s busier than a whole team of Santa’s elves manufacturing them from late October through to mid-December, getting them ready for shipment to his appreciative connoisseurs all over B.C. and Canada.
Made from a recipe he first learned from his beloved, late wife Josie, Fred has been perfecting his ingredients and techniques ever since, and expanding the list of lucky recipients, which now includes: family; former colleagues at Central Saanich, where Fred was Municipal Adminstrator; friends and neighbours in Victoria’s Cook Street Village, where he was an honoured resident up until this summer, when he moved with family to Chemainus.
The photos to the left, right and below the recipe (in the grey box) show the process of making rum balls – in peak years Fred makes more than a thousand of them.
Top left, the main, and namesake, ingredient, rum, is poured into the bowl full of dry ingredients. After that, the melted chocolate is folded in, and the mixture is put in the fridge overnight to set.
Then, below left and top right, things get rolling, as Fred scoops out portions of the rum ball mixture to shape into 1.5” to 2” balls.
These are rolled in chocolate hail, crushed nuts or coconut to give them a tasty coating, then placed in their paper cups, ready for packing and delivery.
The recipe yields batches of eight to 10 dozen rum balls, so for most families even a single batch will probably be enough.
A few tips for newbie at rum ball rollers:
• Most dollar-stores carry tins that make excellent rum ball containers for storage and shipping. As well as protecting the rum balls they are often decorated in seasonal motifs.
• If you run out of room in your fridge, you can store rum balls you are going to be keeping for a while on your balcony or deck during the winter months (in milder areas of B.C.).
• When storing your rum balls on the balcony or deck, be sure the locations aren’t frequented by the little masked bandits known as raccoons.
Raccoons are not fond of rum balls, but they don’t seem to know it. One year they ripped open the top of a plastic bin, where Fred had his rum balls stored, opened the tins, and took bites out of all the rum balls without finishing a single one.
• If you feel you must hide a stash of rum balls, rather than sharing and eating them the moment your tin is opened, be sure to find a secure location, away from heat registers and snoopy pets. And don’t forget where you’ve hid them.
• If you develop a ‘secret recipe’ for making better rum balls, share it. Rum balls are symbolic of the ‘good will’ that makes Christmas such a special time of year.
• If someone make a batch of rum balls based on the recipe you have shared, and asks you how they taste, say “Wonderful!’ Fred mentored several neighbours, but no-one ever made rum balls quite as good has his; still, they put their hearts into it, and that’s what really counts.
Fred’s Famous Rum Ball Recipe
Melt 12 oz. (350 gr.) semi sweet chocolate
Add 1 C. sour cream and 1/2 C. almond paste and beat until smooth. (set aside)
Melt 1lb butter. (set side)
4 boxes of Christies Vanilla Nilla Wafers crushed, mixed with 3 C. icing sugar, 2 C. crushed nuts (walnuts or pecans) and 2/3rd C. of unsweetened cocoa powder.
Mix cookie mixture and pour melted butter over and mix again. Add 1 3/4 C. rum and stir followed by the chocolate mixture. Once well mixed set aside in the fridge until easy to form into 1.5” to 2” balls. Roll the balls into chocolate hail (Dutch sprinkles), crushed nuts, coconut etc.
Makes 8 to 10 dozen depending on size.