Alcohol-Free Rum Balls

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I hope everyone has had a fantastic Australia Day! I celebrated by heading down to the city with my nearest and dearest to watch a classical music concert under the stars, finished off by a spectacular fireworks display!

One of the most Aussie treats I can think of is Lamingtons – Soft airy sponge cake covered in creamy chocolate icing and coconut. Alas, I have never actually made Lamingtons – and although Australia Day seems like the perfect time to try them out, I’ve been a little too busy for such shenanigans. Also, it’s summer and we’ve been struck by yet another burst of seasonally warm weather during which I’d rather not use the oven too much.

But you know what’s sort of like Lamingtons, but not really? Rum Balls! I mean, seriously. They’ve got chocolate, and coconut, and… well, that’s really where the similarities end. But they’re still good! Perfect to take along on a picnic or something.

These Rum Balls are super easy, and require no actual baking (perfect for summer!) as they use crushed-up sweet biscuits – all you need is room in your fridge for them to set. The original recipe called for Irish Cream, but I wanted to make an alcohol-free version, so I substituted rum essence. I used one tablespoon but in hindsight I think I could have added a little more to make the flavour a tad stronger – it depends on your preference, really, and how strong or subtle you want the flavour to be.

The texture of these rum balls was soft and not too moist, perfect with a cup of coffee. I left in some larger chunks of the crushed biscuits for a bit of a crunch. I used Arnotts Milk Arrowroot, but use whatever’s in your pantry – it might vary the flavour and texture a little. I think Arnotts Scotch Fingers would be great as well, or even cake crumbs if you want them softer and spongier.

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Alcohol-Free Rum Balls
(adapted from Australia’s Sweet Baking Favourites)

250g plain sweet biscuits
395g condensed milk
1 cup desiccated coconut, plus extra to coat
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
1-2 tablespoons rum essence
1 teaspoon vanilla essence

Crush up the sweet biscuits into fine crumbs. Stir in all the ingredients except the extra coconut, and mix well to combine.

Fill a small bowl with the extra coconut. Roll teaspoons of the mixture into balls and roll each one in the extra coconut to coat them. Place the rum balls on a lined baking tray and refrigerate for a few hours to set.

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