Day 31 – Rum Balls   13 comments

In addition to being a photographer I also enjoy cooking. I make most of our meals these days, including our bread for the week. I make bagels less frequently than my family would like. I used to make a lot of desserts, but my sweet tooth isn’t what it once was. That said, I still enjoy the occasional treat. And so today’s post was born.

My wife takes responsibility for making almost all of our Christmas sweets. I chipped in this year and made some mediocre shortbreads and some average gingerbread men. Somehow – I don’t remember how – talk turned to rum balls. It probably had something to do with the bottle of dark rum I bought to go with some egg nog. My mother-in-law said she had a good recipe for rum balls that she’d send me, but then couldn’t find it until recently.

I’m getting tired of the winter theme that I’ve been running with since starting this blog. I still haven’t figured out what my next theme will be. I’m considering weekly projects. Until I work out what I’m going to do, my posts might be a bit random.

I’m no food photographer either. I don’t have a clue. I can recognize good food photography, but I don’t have a gift for it myself so this might not be such a clever idea. I like making food that tastes good, but I certainly don’t make food that looks good. Somewhat lumpy looking is my style.

A food project takes a lot longer to prepare because you have to make it first. That’s where my other challenge arrives. Not only are my results not terribly pretty, I am a very slow cook. I’m sure my wife has theories about why I’m so slow, but I think I just tend to putter a bit. I started on the rum balls with a trip to the supermarket at 12:30 – home by 1:15. Had to make two stops to get everything I needed. I mixed the ingredients into a bowl full of rum ball mix by 2:15 and broke for lunch and picking up the kids from school.

I drafted the elder daughter, and we set to forming the balls and rolling them in cocoa or chocolate sprinkles for the next 40 minutes. We churned out 103 in the end. As per yesterday’s posting, we then had to break for pizza, movie and pop night.

I set up the backdrop and lights while the kids got themselves sorted for bed and then the shoot was quick and easy at about 9:30pm. Not sure a nine-hour turnaround on the shoot was quite what I had in mind. I guess I won’t do that everyday. On the bright side, we get to eat the props!

Technical details: ISO 100, 1/100s, f8.0, 100mm, lighting with two 550EX flashes with scrim to soften
Photoshop mods: Levels to bring up the white and even out the black


6 oz. semi sweet chocolate chips (melted)
1/4 cup almond paste at room temperature
1/2 cup sour cream
4 cups finely crushed Christie vanilla wafers (about 2 boxes)
1 1/2 cups icing sugar
1/3 cup cocoa
3/4 cup melted butter
1 cup finely chopped pecans
3/4 cup “overproof” rum
dash salt
chocolate sprinkles or cocoa for finishing

Combine melted chocolate, sour cream, almond paste and salt. Cream well and set aside. In separate large bowl combine wafers and remaining ingredients except sprinkles. Mix until it holds its shape. Add choc/sour cream mixture and knead with hands until blended and soft. Refrigerate until firm enough to form small balls but soft enough to hold sprinkles. Roll into balls, roll in sprinkles or whatever, and place on wax paper to harden overnight in fridge or freezer. Take out of fridge a few hours before serving to bring out rum flavour.

You can use a blender or food processor for wafers and pecans.

If mixture seems too runny add about 1/3 cup icing sugar to firm up.


13 responses to “Day 31 – Rum Balls

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  1. Look pretty good to me. How about FedExing a few dozen to Salt Spring Island and/or making another batch the next time we visit!!!

    • Out of 103 rum balls, these were the only good looking ones I could find. And good thing I only have the one in focus! I’ll definitely make you some. They’re really easy!

  2. I think it looks great!

    That’s the wonderful thing about food photography. You get to eat the project. 🙂

  3. “Somewhat lumpy looking is my style.”

    This made me laugh out loud. My wife asked me what was so funny and is now reading back through your entries. I think you have a new fan…

  4. Thanks for stopping by in my photo blog.

    Lovely lighting on this shot. You have captured the textures nicely besides I like the food arrangement in this shot.

    • Thanks Sasi, I’m just trying things out this week on the food photography front. Total newbie when it comes to food shooting. Fingers-crossed for a good week!

  5. Rumballs? So much easier to photograph than eggs being shot at, eh? 🙂

  6. Hi Mike. I like the composition very much and the recipe just as much 🙂

  7. Okay, those just sound so good right now! Thank you for sharing the recipe, I will have to try them out in the near future.

    Great lighting, focal point is dead on if you ask me!

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