Rum Balls

Candy, Food Hoarding Confessions, Unfussy
When I have cookies that are getting stale I stick them in a bag in the freezer. If you put them in the food processor you can turn them into a cookie crust for pies or cheesecakes, or use them for this thrifty little trick I’ve been doing to use up leftover cookies and assorted nuts that need a home after the holidays.

  • 3 cups crushed cookie crumbs (pretty much any cookie works here – chocolate, vanilla, graham crackers, etc…)
  • 1 1/2 cups finely chopped nuts – toast them ahead if possible
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 3 TBSP corn syrup or honey
  • 1 tsp. rum exract
  • 1/2 cup dark rum
  • Additional powdered sugar or cocoa powder for coating

Process cookies in food processor – measure 3 cups (+/-) and set aside. Process nuts in food processor – measure 1 1/2 cups.

Put cookie crumbs and nuts back in food processor. Add powdered sugar, cocoa powder, corn syrup, extract and dark rum. Pulse until evenly combined and starting to stick together.

Form into balls (1” is a good size, but it’s up to you). Coat in additional powdered sugar or cocoa powder.

Store in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

These are excellent right out of the fridge. They are also excellent when they come to room temperature and get soft and boozy.

Fruitcake Cookies

A little bit fussy, Cookies
These are actually a little more like Stollen cookies – almond flavored dough studded with fruit and toasted pecans. The texture is soft and chewy and total perfection in my book.

  • 1 1/2 cups chopped dried fruit (apricots, figs, raisins, etc.)
  • 1/2 cup candied cherries (morello, maraschino, etc.)
  • 1 cup Brandy or Cognac
  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 8 oz. almond paste
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 TBSP brandy or cognac
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. cloves
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup pecans, toasted and chopped

Chop the dried fruit into small pieces- about the same size as your raisins. Halve the candied cherries. Place in a bowl and cover with Cognac or Brandy. Let sit overnight.

Drain the fruit and reserve 1 TBSP cognac/brandy.

Toast pecans in 350°F oven for 10 minutes. Let cool and chop coarsely.

Cream butter, almond paste and sugar in a mixer until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, until incorporated. Add the tablespoon of brandy/cognac and mix. Scrape bowl and mix well.

Stir together flour, baking powder, cloves and salt. Add to the butter and mix until combined, scraping bowl if necessary. Add fruit and pecans and mix well.

Divide the dough in half. Shape each half into a 15″ log and roll up in parchment paper. Refrigerate for at least 6 hours and preferably overnight.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Slice the dough into 1/2″ slices using a sharp knife. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet, about 2″ apart. Alternately, to get a more uniform cookie – you can do what Dorie Greenspan does and bake each round in the cup of a muffin tin.

Bake for 10-12 minutes, until starting to brown around the edges.

Mint Chip Marshmallows

Candy, Fussy

  • 1 1/2 cups cold water, divided
  • 32g gelatin
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 1 cup corn syrup
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • Scant 1 tsp peppermint extract
  • Green food coloring
  • 1 cup chocolate paillettes, or mini chocolate chips
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 cup cornstarch or potato starch for coating

Special equipment:
candy thermometer
stand mixer with whisk attachment


Line a 13×9-inch pan with foil or parchment, letting some overhang to make lifting the marshmallow out easier. Coat lightly with non-stick spray or butter.


Pour 3/4 cup cold water into bowl of stand-mixer. Sprinkle gelatin over water and let stand. Put on the stand mixer with the whisk attachment so it’s ready to go.


Combine 3 cups sugar, corn syrup, salt, and remaining 3/4 cup cold water in heavy medium saucepan (with a handle preferably). Over medium-low heat, stir super gently with a heatproof spatula, or swirl the pan ever so slightly, just for the first couple minutes to dissolve the sugar, being careful not to let any sugar granules stick to the sides of the pan (if they do, wash them down with a wet pastry brush).

Once sugar had dissolved, attach a candy thermometer and never stir it again until it reaches 240º, about 8 minutes. It will boil up the pan quite a bit as it gets going- just keep an eye on it so it doesn’t boil over, adjusting the heat accordingly.


With the mixer running on low speed, slowly pour the hot syrup into the gelatin in a thin stream, running down the side of the bowl so the whisk doesn’t splash it all over. Don’t worry about the syrup that sticks to the bowl.

Increase the mixer speed to high and beat until very stiff and cooled to lukewarm – it should take 10-15 minutes.

Add peppermint and beat to blend, about 30 seconds. Sprinkle in 1/2 cup of the chocolate paillettes or mini chips and JUST mix in.


Spread the marshmallow into the greased pan and smooth the top as best you can. Sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup paillettes or chips evenly on top. Let stand for at least 4 hours before cutting. Overnight is even better.


Sift starch and powdered sugar together and dust your work surface. Lift marshmallow out and cut into squares using a large sharp knife. Keep a pitcher of piping hot water and a dish towel nearby – dip the knife in the hot water and dry with the towel to make cutting easier. Roll in sugar/starch mixture until the sides are coated before stacking or packing.

Oatmeal Spice Cake

Breakfast, Cakes, Unfussy

This cake is a breeze to whip up and makes a great breakfast, what with all the oatmeal.

  • 2 1/2 cups boiling water
  • 2 cups old-fashioned oats
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 2 tsp. nutmeg
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour a 12-cup bundt pan.

In a medium mixing bowl, pour boiling water over the oatmeal and let stand for 20 minutes.

In large bowl, cream butter until light. Slowly add sugars, creaming until the mixture is fluffy.

Beat in eggs, one at a time. Scrape bowl as necessary.

Whisk together flours, salt, soda, cinnamon and nutmeg. Add to the creamed butter and blend well. Stir in the oatmeal and vanilla extract.

Pour the batter into the prepared bundt pan. Bake for 1 hour, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Cook on rack for 20 minutes. Turn out onto rack.

Dust with powdered sugar, or glaze with a cinnamon glaze.

Cinnamon Glaze:

  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 TBSP cream
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar

Whisk glaze ingredients together until smooth. Spoon over the cake.

Cornmeal Rolls

Bread
These are mandatory at our Thanksgiving table – and even more crucial the next day when they make a stellar turkey sandwich.

  • 1 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1 cup water
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons
  • 2 TBSP fresh rosemary, chopped (optional)
  • 1 TBSP yeast
  • 1 egg
  • 4 cups flour
  • 1 additional egg for egg wash

Combine cornmeal, water and milk in a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly until thick and smooth. Pour into mixing bowl of a stand mixer. Add honey, salt, butter and rosemary and stir with the dough hook until the butter is incorporated and the mixture is 80°F or less.

Add egg, flour and yeast and mix on low for 7-10 minutes, until the dough is smooth and no longer sticking to the sides of the bowl.

Prove the dough for 1 1/2 hours, or until doubled in size, in a greased bowl covered with plastic wrap.

Turn the dough out onto a work surface. Line a baking sheet with parchment.

Shape the rolls into equal-size balls (12 for hamburger buns or 18 for dinner rolls), flatten well, and place on the prepared cookie sheet.

Cover with greased plastic wrap and let rise until doubled, about an hour. Preheat oven to 375°F.

Beat egg for egg wash – add 1 teaspoon water to thin slightly. Brush rolls with egg wash.

Bake for 15-20 minutes until golden brown.