Every time I see 100 anything, it reminds me of my great-grandmother's 100th birthday. Mammo Octa was an amazing woman. Perhaps my recollection of her is incorrect, but I imagine her to be a total spitfire, much like Idgie and Ruth were in "Fried Green Tomatoes". She lived to be 100, which is quite a testament to her stubbornness (Is that where the women in my family get it?) and determination.
Being from a small town in Oklahoma, her 100th birthday was quite the news story. The local paper did a huge write up on her and included a full page of various pictures throughout her lifetime. Have you ever seen your great-grandma dressed up in a drop-waist dress, gloves, long necklaces, and hat a la 1920's? I have and it's awesome. One of my most favorite pictures ever.
Her birthday party was no small feat, either. Mammo Octa was quite frail by this time, so she was in a wheelchair. That didn't stop her from grinning from ear to ear, though. She looked so beautiful that day, surrounded by all the family and friends that loved her so dearly. Being her 100th birthday, we did a champagne toast. We shared our favorite memories of her and just enjoyed being together.
As the party was winding down, my cousin Mark asked Mammo Octa if there was anything else she'd like before we went home. She looked straight at him (all four feet eleven inches and 98 pounds of her) and said, "I sure would like another glass of that champagne!" See, I told you. Spitfire. Everyone laughed, looked around, and decided to hand it over. We all knew that second glass was enough to send her straight over to tipsy, but who's gonna tell a 100-year-old woman she can't have a second glass of champagne at her own party?!? Never, in all my (hopefully 100) years, will I forget the way she looked being wheeled around to talk to everyone, beaming, buzzed, and clutching that glass of champagne like it was gold. Priceless.
So, in honor of my 100th blog post, I bring you a treat everyone in my family just loves. They've been requested every Christmas since the first time I made them four years ago. I'm sure my Mammo Octa would've loved them, too.
Chocolate Rum Balls
adapted from Martha Stewart, "Holiday Cookies", December 2005
vegetable oil cooking spray
3/4 c. (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
6 oz. semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
3 large eggs
1/2 c. packed dark brown sugar
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. coarse salt
3/4 c. all-purpose flour
1/3 c. dark rum
coarse sanding sugar, for rolling
1. Preheat oven to 350. Coat a 12-by-17-inch rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray; set aside.
2. Melt butter and chocolate in a small heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water, stirring occasionally. Set aside.
3. Whisk together eggs, brown sugar, vanilla, and salt in a large bowl. Stir in chocolate mixture, then fold in flour.
4. Pour batter into prepared baking sheet. Spread evenly with a rubber spatula. Bake until top is shiny and a cake tester inserted into center comes out with some crumbs attached, about 10 minutes. Let cool completely on a wire rack.
5. Break up brownie into small pieces; transfer to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. With machine on low speed, pour in rum, and mix until crumbs start to come together to form a ball.
6. Shape into 1-inch balls, and roll in sanding sugar to coat.
7. Transfer to a baking sheet; refrigerate, uncovered, until cold, about 2 hours. Serve chilled or at room temperature.
*Rum balls can be refrigerated in an airtight container up to 1 week. Makes approximately four dozen.