I should probably write about the recipe for which this blog is named, yeah? This was my paternal grandmothers recipe that she found so long ago she forgot where it came from. She would make this confection for the end of year holidays, Thanksgiving and Christmas, which is now when I make them as well.
So, humdingers. Is that not just the most adorable name? Mainly people simply call these date balls, but my paternal grandmother’s recipe came with a really swell name. Why call them anything but Humdingers? It’s fitting too as they are extremely sweet and they make me want to exclaim, “HUMdinger!” after I’ve eaten one.
- 8 oz package Dates, chopped
- 3/4 C Sugar
- 1 stick Butter
- 1 1/2 C Rice Krispies cereal
- 1 C Pecans, chopped
- 1 tsp Vanilla
- Confectioners sugar
Melt white sugar and butter over low heat. Add dates and cook 5 – 8 minutes, or until it turns into a thick paste. Remove from heat and add the cereal, nuts and vanilla. Mix well. Let cool slightly. Use hands to roll mixture into 1″ balls and then roll in confectioners sugar to coat evenly.
Not a big deal here. Just melt the butter and sugar and when that’s melted, add in the dates until they’re soft and form into a caramel coloured paste like so…
Once you reach this lovely caramel colour, you’re ready to remove it from the heat. The dates will not cook down, so they’ll still be solid forms within the paste, though squishy. Then you’ll add the rice krispies.
This is the point in the process where you’ll want to let the paste cool down a little bit, because you’ll be working with your hands for the next and final portion of the recipe. If the paste is too hot, you won’t be able to touch it; too cold and it will just crumble apart. So, you’ll want it to still be warm-hot where you can handle it without burning your hands.
Now to get your hands sticky. Dates are very sticky. You’ll want to take the paste and roll it into balls. Ideally, you’ll want them to be about 1″ round. Those are the ones covered in confectioner sugar. You will get halfway through the paste and not want to be rolling these anymore and will end up with 2″ or 3″ balls. That is OK. I’m guilty of this.
The reason you want them small in the first place is because these are extremely sweet and rich. Extremely! A smaller confection is just the right portion, where larger and it’s a lot of Humdinger to try and get through.
So, you’ll roll 1″ balls and then roll the date paste balls in confectioner sugar and lay them into a sturdy container for keeping. Since I always make these at Christmas, I always use our vintage Christmas tin. Tupperware works fine. You do want it in something sturdy so they’re not rolling around and the confectioner sugar isn’t coming off, or so the Humdingers aren’t breaking apart.
* This recipe makes a lot of confectionery, and as they are super sweet it will take you a long time to eat them. It also depends on the size you make the balls as to how many you will have. Normally you’ll have about 3 dozen, but if you make them larger (as sometimes we tend to do because we’re lazy), it’ll be less. Can be more if you make them very small.
* These are actually great to give away as gifts, either on their own or as part of a handmade sweets gift set. I’ve not met a person yet who doesn’t think that they are delicious. They’re easy to make, not very expensive, and you have plenty to gift out. I always include a hand-written recipe card with the gift, in case the receiver wishes to make them on their own.
* Old Family Recipe Help: If your old family recipe happens to mention “such and such amount stick of Oleo”, as my recipe does, it simply means butter. Oleo was a butter substitute once upon a time. It’s equally consistent with the same measurement for butter.
* C = cup(s)
* tsp = teaspoon
* oz = ounces