This is my take on the classic rum balls with the substitution of brandy. Yes, you could use rum and there is nothing wrong with it, but I absolutely love the pairing of brandy with chocolate. Going for familiar flavours, this reminds me of my grandfather’s flambéed Christmas pudding, which was a tradition every year. These two-bite balls make for great edible gifts and look festively cute.
Now, I know rum balls are normally made with leftover cake and/or biscuit crumbs that are bound together with some melted chocolate or alcohol. But once you have made my chocolate brandy fruit cake (recipe below), you will not use any other cake to make these beauties. The cake itself is high-level temptation with its indulgent chocolate and brandy flavours. It is deliciously moist, and the brandy-soaked fruits make surprise appearances with every bite. You could use store-bought chocolate pound cake or dark gingerbread if time doesn’t permit you to make the cake from scratch, but this will alter the taste and texture of the balls.
For the soaked fruits, I soak my fruits a year in advance in a mixture of brandy, vanilla extract, Cointreau and honey. I do not expect you to start the process now in order to make them by next year, so just soak the fruits for at least 24 hours, until all the alcohol has been absorbed.
The icing on top is a good contrast to the brandy balls, and the sweetened shredded coconut gives a flavourful hint of bounty. Or you could leave it out and just add a few red and green sprinkles. Get creative and make decorating the brandy balls a fun family activity!
For the cake:
- 1 cup unsalted butter
- 1 cup brown sugar
- ⅔ cup caster sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 120g dark chocolate, melted
- 1 cup plain flour
- ¼ cup cocoa powder
- 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 1 tbsp ground coffee
- 1 cup hot water
- ¼ cup brandy-soaked dried fruits
To assemble the balls:
- 60g dark chocolate, melted
- 60ml brandy
- 4 tbsp brandy-soaked dried fruits
- 1 small egg white
- 350g icing sugar
- lime juice (optional)
- vanilla extract (optional)
- Christmas sprinkles (optional)
- sweetened shredded coconut (optional)
- To make the cake, first preheat oven to 170°C and line a large baking tin with baking paper and oil.
- Beat the butter and sugars together until creamy. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat well. Add the vanilla and melted chocolate, beating once more.
- In a separate bowl, sift together the dry ingredients. Mix the coffee with the hot water and brandy-soaked fruits in another bowl.
- Fold the dry mixture into the egg batter, alternating with the coffee mixture until all the ingredients have been well combined.
- Bake for 30 minutes, until the top is springy to the touch and a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out with moist crumbs. Remove from the oven, pour over 30ml of the brandy and leave to soak and cool.
- To make the brandy balls, break up the cooled cake using your hands and then add the melted chocolate, remaining brandy and soaked fruits. Using your hands, form into balls and set aside.
- To make the white icing, whisk the egg white until frothy, add the icing sugar and whisk until soft peaks form. You can also add a squeeze of lime juice and a dash of vanilla if you like. Using a piping bag, pipe the icing over the balls.
- Decorate with festive sprinkles and/or sweetened shredded coconut.
- I like using a mixture of brandy, Cointreau and a little red wine for soaking my dried fruits. You can use whatever you like to drink to flavour the balls.
- When making the brandy balls, if you feel the mixture is too dry to form it into balls, add some more melted chocolate. If it’s too wet, add more cake crumbs.
- The chocolate brandy fruit cake itself is great as it is for an indulgent festive dessert topped with whipped cream.
- The decoration of the brandy balls is up to you and your creativity.
For Day 4’s snowballs recipe, click here