I wanted to try baking Coconut Macaroons but ended up making Rum Balls instead. Because I did not want to go back to the supermarket, I decided to try making another dish with the shredded coconut. I had to put on my thinking hat and be creative. So I started looking through my cookbooks for a recipe. There are very few shredded coconut recipes with minimal ingredients.
When I stumbled on the recipe for Rum Balls, it was a life savior. Four ingredients and I added one more just for fun. Only shredded Coconut, fresh ginger, dark rum, sugar, and lime zest, which the last ingredient was my idea. Making this dessert or snack was somewhat of a workout. Anytime you have to mix melted sugar with other ingredients you get a good upper body workout.
Rum Balls or Kubecake is an African sweet sold by street vendors throughout West Africa, as stated by Dorinda Hafner in her Cookbook “A Taste of Africa.” Ms. Hafner continued by saying that the rum balls snack is an explosion of two hostile forces – a combination of strong dark rum and ginger. She was right. If you don’t like those two ingredients, do not attempt to make this dish.
I used Rhum Barbancourt to make the recipe. Because this particular rum is unyielding and also because of the aroma of the grated fresh ginger, I decided to add fresh lime zest to balance out the flavors. It worked! I also used store bought shredded coconut instead of freshly grated coconut. The worst for me was grating the ginger. If you ever grated ginger, you need to be very careful because 1) ginger does not take long to grate and 2) should not grate fast, or you will grind your knuckles or fingers instead. Be careful, please.
The recipe says to serve immediately or store in the refrigerator and serve later. I am not sure if it is because I did not use fresh coconut, but the texture was too soft for my liking. So I decided to place the Rum Balls in the refrigerator for a few hours. It worked. The Rum Balls were not that soft. I have to say that I mostly enjoy eating the Rum Balls cold than at room temperature. Enjoy!
- 8 cups shredded coconut or finely grated fresh coconut
- ¾ cup fresh ginger peeled and finely grated
- 1 cup dark rum
- 1 ¼ cups organic sugar or superfine sugar
- 1 zest lime
Preheat oven to 95°C / 200°F.
In an oven-proof dish, mix coconut, ginger, lime zest and rum. (you may want to use clean hands to mix ingredients well). Place dish on middle rack in oven.
In a large heavy pan over medium to low heat, melt sugar while occasionally stirring with a wooden spoon. When the sugar is completely melted, it should be brown, (not dark brown or light brown) add coconut rum mixture quickly and mix vigorously to incorporate all ingredients. Let the mixture cook about 1 minute while stirring. Remove from heat and let cool completely. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Place a large bowl with water, next to the pan, moisten hands and form small balls. You may need to re-moist your hand if your hands become too sticky and make sure you remove any excess water. Place each ball on lined baking dish 1 cm – 2.5cm (0.5″ – 1″) apart. Store in refrigerator for a few hours, so the Rum Balls get slightly firmed. You may also serve them immediately if preferred.
Use a good quality rum such as Rum Barbancourt