Gluten-free & vegan rum balls (Rumkugeln)...

There are things that, no matter how insignificant they seem, you never really forget. Childhood memories, a sunset on holiday, a book, a song or a dish. One of those things for me is 'Rumkugeln'. Big, doughy rum balls that can be found in most German bakeries. There's not one bit of "fine patisserie" in sight with these ones. They're the plump, crude and homely relative to the refined and upmarket cakes and tarts. They're essentially made from scraps that have been left over after the pretty sponge-based tartlets have been assembled. But you know how it is, no matter how much we might enjoy an elegant afternoon tea with champagne and a string quartet playing in the background, it's good for the soul to venture down the pub for a beer and a hearty, home-cooked meal served by a grumpy owner. 

So, in my quest to make as many treats for Monsieur as possible that he can actually eat (see previous post for all the reasons), I decided to reinvent and adapt this childhood treat to his dietary requirements. It's a little more 'grown up' than the originals, as the chocolate is darker and I haven't used any of the artificial rum essence so often found in these bakes. I used real rum instead and rolled them in either cocoa powder or cacao nibs as opposed to chocolate vermicelli which would have contained lactose. Overall though, they turned out pretty much the way I remember them and since it's bitterly cold outside (as well as pretty dark on the day I took these pictures), what better could there be than chocolate?

Ingredients for 12-15 balls:

For the cake:

  • 270g self-raising gluten-free flour
  • 200g golden caster sugar
  • 170ml water
  • 100ml vegetable oil
  • 1tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1tsp baking powder

For the balls:

  • 4tbsp cocoa powder
  • 4tbsp icing sugar
  • 5-6tbsp dark rum 
  • cocoa powder and/or cacao nibs to roll the balls in

How it's done:

You will need to allocate enough time to bake the cake and let it cool completely - I'd suggest doing this a day ahead.

  • preheat your oven to 180C
  • grease a loose-bottomed cake tin
  • mix the flour, baking powder, sugar and cocoa powder together and then sift into a large bowl or into your mixer bowl
  • turn your mixer onto medium speed and slowly add the oil, vanilla extract and water
  • mix until all combined
  • transfer the dough into the cake tin and put into the preheated oven
  • bake for around 30mins until a skewer comes out clean
  • take the cake out of the oven and leave to cool completely
  • once cooled, bash the cake into thick crumbs and put them into a large bowl
  • add the cocoa powder and icing sugar and mix
  • now add the rum spoon by spoon and work it all in with your hands
  • the mix should be moist but not too gooey
  • form the balls roughly the size of a golf ball and roll in cocoa powder or cacao nibs