Joy oh joy to the world! Tis the season where it is totally acceptable to be prising open a tin of condensed milk at any hour! And so, last night, I made my first batch of rum balls for the season.
I had scraped the contents of the tin into one of my beautiful old “Gripstand” mixing bowls. Made by J.G. Green & Co in England, they are the perfect bowls for all kinds of Christmas baking. At this time, it held crushed up Arnott’s Nice biscuits. Two-thirds of the packet was blitzed fine, with the remaining biscuits were crushed too, but not totally as the little crunchy bits are the best. The cocoa, coconut and sultanas were also already in the dish, waiting for the cascade of glossy goodness to ooze all over them. Then, as they drowned in the dream, I added a dollop of vanilla bean paste and the good splash of rum.
I had never even tasted a rum ball until a forsaken day a few years back. I had decided to make a treat for my husband. With the basic understanding that Rum Balls contained rum and sometimes Weetbix, I made my selection confidently, knowing that he always chose rum & raisin ice cream and truely believed he could survive on Weet-bix alone. I punched ‘rum ball recipe’ into Google. I was doomed from the moment I hit enter and my Yuletide life changed as I knew it. I made five batches of the decadent little balls that year. At about 30 rum balls a batch, that’s 150 of the oh-so-divine Christmas treats.
I ate at least 100 of them.
Sweetened condensed milk, milk where water is removed and sugar is added, is possibly the most amazing thing ever created. I wouldn’t be surprised if one day the Bible Scriptures are re-written to include sweetened condensed milk as one of the gifts the Wise Men bought to the baby Jesus. And as an essential Christmas baking ingredient, packaged in a tin intended to last forever this could be plausible. One of my most poignant memories and lessons learnt, was the day my aunty caught my cousin and I hiding tubes of condensed milk in the garage fridge. In the divine moment as I squeezed the contents into my mouth, she walked past and warned me that if I ate it I would get big hips and pimples. Turns out she was right.
But that didn’t stop me last night from squishing my hand into the tin to run my finger along the bottom for the thick milky remains. An act done with a finesse that only comes from years of practice. Deftly avoiding the sharp edge of the tin, I pondered that it wouldn’t have been the first time an injury had occurred ‘licking the bowl’. Of course, since the sensible invent of the pull ring top, I am sure the emergency room sees a lot less guilty injuries that required sutchering.
For those of us who spend the holiday season fighting the sweetened little devil, or indeed welcome it into our homes like a long-lost family member, grab yourselves a beautiful old mixing bowl (Shop 25, The Cloche Hat always has some!), check out the favourite recipe below and crack open a tin….
1 Packet of Arnotts Nice biscuits
½ cup desiccated coconut
1½ tablespoons rum
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract/paste
3 tablespoons Cadbury Cocoa
2/3 cup sultanas
1 can condensed milk
extra desiccated coconut
Crush Nice biscuits finely but not all of them! Keep some chunky, crunchy bits because they taste awesome when you get one in the finished balls. In your beautiful bowl, add the cocoa, coconut, sultanas, condensed milk, vanilla and rum. Mix together. If you live in Brisbane or anywhere warm, pop the bowl in the fridge to let the mix chill. Whilst chilling, lick the remains from the condensed milk tin. Use a spoon or spatula to avoid ‘condensed cuts’. Remove mix from fridge and roll balls, roll in coconut. If you don’t eat them all at once, refrigerate and consume whenever you wish.
They are delicious for breakfast.