Recipe: No-bake rum balls -- a holiday favorite

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by Julie Snyder

No-Cool Rum BallsDo your memories of holidays past include decadent homemade round liquor-infused treats? For some of us, nothing says the holidays like a good ol' rum ball!

We've heard that it's the only holiday cookie for grown men -- boozy and sweet, and it can be made without even turning on an oven.

Most recipes start with vanilla wafers and corn syrup. We've gone with a healthier and tastier option -- dried fruit and nuts. They're not too sweet, and have a subtle, wonderful rum flavor.

Quick and easy to make, these apricot-based rum balls make perfect gifts or last-minute bake-sale contributions.

No-bake rum balls

Prep time: 15 minutes | Total time: 25 minutes | Yield: 24 cookies

Ingredients

• 1 1/2 cups dried apricots
• 2/3 cup hazelnuts, toasted
• 1/3 cup confectioners' sugar
• 1/3 cup non-fat dry milk
• 1/4 cup light or dark rum OR 3 2/3 tablespoons water and 1 teaspoon rum extract
• 2 teaspoons freshly grated orange zest
• 3 ounces bittersweet chocolate

Directions

In a food processor, pulse together the apricots and hazelnuts until finely chopped.

In a medium bowl, stir in the sugar, powdered milk, rum and orange zest.

Roll the mixture into 1-inch balls. Arrange closely spaced on a baking sheet and set aside.

In a double boiler, melt chocolate over hot water. Remove from the heat and let stand for 1 minute to cool slightly.

Drizzle melted chocolate and drizzle it decoratively over the tops of the rum balls. Refrigerate until the chocolate sets, at least 30 minutes or up to a week in an airtight container. They're best when the flavors have time to blend so try to make them the night before.

Cook's note

To decorate the rum balls, dip a knife into the chocolate and drizzle over the cookies. Alternatively, spoon the chocolate into a decorating bag or a plastic sandwich bag with a tiny hole in one corner. Pipe the chocolate over the candies.

Vary the amount and kind of liquor to taste. If you cut down, just replace the rest with water, or flavored syrup. To maintain the rum flavor, but make them family-friendly, use rum extract and water.

For those who don't enjoy rum, try the recipe with almond extract.

Do you have a favorite holiday cookie recipe?

Photo courtesy of iStockphoto.