I wanted a simple, no-bake treat to bring to a Christmas party in lieu of something store bought, and rum balls fit the bill perfectly. But I priced them and the cost of the ingredients began adding up quickly.
Then it occurred to me that several recipes called for finely ground nuts, cocoa, milk, and vanilla. Those are the basic ingredients for hazelnut spreads like Nutella, which also replaced the cake frosting in some recipes.
My short cut worked out really well. The total bill (with some smart shopping) for ingredients was $10.50 and the result didn't disappoint. These rum balls are rich, boozy, smooth, and very sweet, with a thick, cake-like consistency.
2 - 13oz jars chocolate/cocoa hazelnut spread (such as Nutella)
4 - Sleeves graham crackers (about 19 oz)
1 - 200ml bottle rum (just over 4/5 of a cup)
1 - 16oz box powdered sugar (2 cups)
YIELD: About 100-130 rum balls about 1 inch in diameter.
GRAHAM CRACKER BASE:
Finely crush the graham crackers. Blender, food processor, or the old fashioned way, by putting them in a gallon zipper bag and crushing them with a rolling pin.
Add each of the ingredients EXCEPT the powdered sugar to a large mixing bowl about a quarter at a time. Fold the hazelnut spread into the cracker crumbs and top off with the rum. Knead with your hands. (Try to avoid touching the hazelnut spread until it's covered with crumbs and rum, this stuff is really sticky.) Knead the dough until it's about the consistency of bread dough or Play-Doh. (It should be somewhat firmer than, for instance, cookie dough. It has to hold its shape.)
Pinch off small pieces of the dough and roll them into balls. Mine are about an inch in diameter. Put some of the powdered sugar in a bowl and roll each ball in the sugar until it's evenly coated. Divide the balls evenly between two large plastic containers with lids. (If you put them all in one container before they're firm, the bottom balls will may deform under the weight.)
Divide the remaining sugar between the two containers. If any rum balls have stuck together, gently pull them apart. Put the lid on the container and vigorously shake until each rum ball is thickly coated. Set the rum balls overnight in the fridge, or allow them to set for an hour in the freezer.