The holidays give us carte blanche to consume both alcohol and sugar with reckless abandon - bonus points if you can streamline the process. Gelatinous shots may be the millennial-preferred vehicle for the two substances but, like Pete Shweddy before me, I prefer a festive ball.
Photos by Claire Lower.
Candied nuts are one of those things that are equal parts treat and snack, and are just at home in a bowl of ice cream as the are in a salad. Their versatility makes them a great gift and, with the help of a slow cooker, an extremely easy (and hands off) one to make.
Maybe I'm alone in this, but jelly shots feel more "New Year" than "Christmas". Christmas calls for cookie-type confections and stealthy, work-appropriate inebriation, and jelly shots are far too conspicuous. Booze balls are also incredibly easy to make, and require no baking, chilling or setting time, meaning you can make them for that potluck you forgot you agreed to attend. Rum and bourbon balls are classic, but feel free to branch out into other types of ethanol (I used gin), following this basic template:
- 2 1/2-3 cups crumbled wafer-type cookies
- 1 cup ground nuts
- 1 cup powdered sugar + more for coating
- 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons booze
- 3 tablespoons honey or other syrupy sweetener
- 2 tablespoons of cocoa powder if appropriate (if your alcohol is anything but gin)
Starting with 2 1/2 cups of cookie crumbs, sift the dry ingredients together in a big bowl. Dissolve your syrup in the booze, then add it to the dry ingredients and stir everything together until it forms a cohesive, mouldable mound. If your dough is too sticky to work with, add more cookie crumbs.
Grab little 2.5cm clumps of the stuff, roll the clumps into balls, and toss them in powdered sugar (or cocoa powder) to coat. Store in an airtight container; they get more flavourful with each passing day.
No matter which booze you choose, the key is match it to your wafer and nuts. Plain vanilla wafers work well with any spirit, but play around and get creative. The below combinations all sound pretty good to me:
- Bourbon + pecans + chocolate wafers, coated in milk chocolate
- Gin + macadamia nuts + lemon wafers (pictured above, they are amazing)
- Rum + pecans and toasted coconut + vanilla wafers
- Rye + almonds + ginger wafers
Be warned, however: These little spheres will taste strongly of whatever spirit you make them with, so keep them away from the little ones or those who do not imbibe. Stealth ethanol is fine, but surprise ethanol is no fun.