“Come they told me, pa rum pa pum pum… and bring the Chocolate Rum Balls!”


Think of homemade holiday cookies and which come to mind? Surely some from your family, neighbor, church or office. What are your favorites?  Mine? Chocolate Rum Balls!


In a previous post (Grandma Lehman’s Potato Chip Cookies) I mentioned that my grandmother used to bake and give away many dozens of cookies each year. My mother did her own share of baking, too, and my favorite each year were her famous Chocolate Rum Balls (my Dad’s was almond crescents, similar to Mexican Wedding Cookies). Even after I was grown and lived on my own, she would occasionally mail me a batch if I badgered her enough (she even sent me some fairly recently, although due to a slip up she used tequila instead of rum. Guess what? They were just as good, proving they are adaptable!)


Rum balls must be made and then rest for about 1 – 1.5 weeks in an air-tight container before enjoying. Make them NOW!!!  🙂 Besides being delicious, as a kid, I think I found the “curing” process mysterious, and of course, I felt like I was getting away with something by having rum. (they are quite strong… but divided between the whole batch it would not even be the equivalent of a thimbleful.) So, don’t worry about having to lock these away in your liquor cabinet – unless you want to horde them for yourself. But that’s not the holiday spirit, is it? 😉


Note: This recipe calls for crushed “Nilla Wafers” (really plain, vanilla cookies, similar to animal cookies). If your grocer – or country, in my case – doesn’t sell them, look for simple, not too rich, or flavored cookies. See the picture of the ingredients near the top of this post to see what I used. If the cookies you use aren’t too rich, I’m sure they’ll be fine.


Fun fact: I searched online to potentially buy  Nilla Wafers and found them ranging in cost from 30 euros to 50 euros per box… Crazy! I opted for the 0.99 plain cookies that our supermarket sells, and they were just fine. Related: Once I needed an extra U.S. extension cord here in Italy. Amazon sold them for 75 euros each…again, crazy! I just waited until someone came to visit and brought me one. Anyway, happy baking, and happy holidays!


Also consider making Finnish Cardamom Shortbread Cookies


Did you enjoy reading or making the recipe from this post? If so, please give it a “like” or a comment. It would be nice to know you are out there and that my posts connect with you.


  • 2 cups Nilla wafer crumbs, or similar plain cookies (see head note)
  • 1 cup very finely chopped nuts, your choice (I used pecans, but walnuts, hazelnuts, almonds, or pistachios would be good)
  • 1 cup Powdered sugar (also called 10X or confectioner’s sugar)
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder (unsweetened)
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 1/3 cup rum


  1. Place the cookies in a bag and use a rolling pin, bottle of wine, or large glass to crush and finely crumb the Nilla wafers*. Once they are in crumb form, measure 2 cups
  2. In a large bowl, mix all ingredients together very thoroughly
  3. Refrigerate for 30 minutes
  4. Roll into balls (I used a very small ice cream scoop and it was a huge time saver). You may need to press the balls gently together to help them keep their shape
  5. Roll balls in powdered sugar or cocoa powder (or a mix)
  6. Place in an air tight container for 1 – 1.5  weeks to cure
  7. Feel free to share this recipe with your friends and family and encourage them to sign up for my blog!

*Note: The above method is all mixed by hand. However, if you prefer, this may be made by pulsing the ingredients in a food processor. If you use a food processor, begin with only the nuts, as they take the most time to chop. Then “crumb” the Nilla Wafers to measure 2 cups worth. Then, with the nuts and cookie crumbs, add all the other ingredients and pulse until fully combined and the dough holds together.

Author: gregnelsoncooks

Visit weekly for original and adapted recipes as well as cooking tips to make your kitchen life easier — and more delicious! I’ll include simple, straight forward instructions along with recipes that are truly worth your time making. And, recipes that elevate the familiar and introduce you to the new and unexpected.

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