Are you as busy this season as I am? I’m guessing the answer is yes — no matter what you do and what your schedule is like, the holiday season just seems to ramp everything up and there never seems to be enough time. Which is why I have become mildly obsessed with no-bake cookies.
Let’s rewind a couple of weeks though. Because it’s the kind of thing I like to do, I went to a Grand Marnier tasting a little over a month ago. Yeah — that orange-flavoured liqueur, made primarily of French cognac. It was actually pretty illuminating, Patrick Reguenaud, Grand Marnier’s master distiller piloted the event and I learned quite a bit, including what Grand Marnier’s highest tier product, Quintessence (which retails for roughly $1000 Canadian and is made with 100 year old cognac) tastes like. (It tastes like heaven, in case you were wondering.)
But one of the most valuable things I learned at the tasting wasn’t from Reguenaud at all — it was from another woman attending the tasting who told me that she uses regular Grand Marnier (not the $1000 kind) in her Christmas rum balls. And that, really, is a stroke of genius. The flavour of the orange essence just pops through and they actually taste quite boozy, which in my opinion is how a rum/Grand Marnier/bourbon ball should be.
We’ll need a music pairing for this too and since Grand Marnier is such a particularly French substance, we’ll need something with a little bit of a French connection. By now you’ve probably heard of Bill Murray’s spectacular Netflix holiday special A Very Murray Christmas (if you haven’t seen it, skip down to the recipe, make some Grand Marnier balls, and watch it tonight). Since the show is directed by Sophia Copolla, who is married to Thomas Mars from the French band Phoenix, Phoenix naturally appear. And they sing a Beach Boys Christmas song:
Cool, eh? If you dig it, you can purchase the song for digital download or on 7″ vinyl at your local record store, with proceeds going to Unicef.
Grand Marnier Balls
3 cups vanilla wafer crumbs (almost a whole package of Nilla wafers)
1 cup icing sugar
3 tbsp light corn syrup
1/2 cup Grand Marnier (a bit more if the cookies are too dry)
Combine the wafer crumbs, sugar, corn syrup, and Grand Marnier in a large bowl. Stir until the crumbs are fully saturated, adding more Grand Marnier if necessary. Roll into balls by the tablespoon and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Refrigerate for at least two hours, until the balls are firm. Transfer to a plastic bag or a more convenient container and store in the fridge for up to a week or in the freezer for up to three months. Roll in icing sugar before serving if you’d like. Makes about 3 dozen balls.