Rum balls are an excellent way of recycling good leftover pastries, end pieces, scraps, and other preparations, just as vegetable trimmings, bones, and some types of leftover sauce go into the stockpot in the hot kitchen. However, the rum ball bucket should not be mistaken for a garbage can; only those scraps that will not spoil within a week or so should be added. No pastry cream or whipped cream should be used, and buttercream or buttercream-filled items should be used only if they are no more than one day old. The best kinds of scraps to use are slightly stale cookies, meringues and macaroons, Florentinas, ladyfingers, pastries such as Tosca and Polynées that do not contain buttercream, light and dark sponge cake, and baked short dough cookies and cake bottoms. Danish or other yeast-dough pastries should not be used in a high-quality rum ball mixture but can be recycled as part of a Bear Claw filling.
The technique used for coating rum balls with chocolate is a little more complicated than the dipping technique used in many of the other recipes. However, because rum balls are so simple and inexpensive to make, there is no need to speed up the finishing process by simply dipping them or, worse yet, rolling them in chocolate sprinkles. I prefer to use light coating chocolate for rum balls, as so many of the other pastries in this chapter are finished with dark chocolate, but of course the two are interchangeable.
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