Sweet Vegan Centerpiece for the White Christmas Challenge

I have never participated in a blog challenge before, not even Vegan MoFo. But there’s a first for everything and this year I have decided to enter the Very Good Recipes’ White Christmas Challenge.

The challenge is quite simple: create a new recipe on the theme of “white christmas”.

I knew immediately what I wanted to do. For a few Christmases now I have been thinking of making a sweet, Christmas table centerpiece out of rum balls. I make rum balls every year, but I always cop out of the presentation part (presentation really isn’t my strong suit), so the challenge was the perfect motivation to finally get around to it.

One of the rules of the challenge is to make sure its a new recipe. Well, there are rum ball recipes everywhere, even vegan rum ball recipes, but I have added my own touch and created four new rum ball-style recipes; Chocolate Balls, Lamington Bites, Ginger Bread and Marzipan Balls, and Coconut White Chocolate Balls.

In keeping with this blog’s theme, I made Lamington Bites, based on the popular Aussie dessert, and the Gingerbread and Marzipan balls were German-inspried.

For the “white” part of the theme, I used coconut, white chocolate, and powdered sugar to give a (hopefully) snowy impression.

So here it is, my four-part, vegan, Christmas centerpiece recipe for the sweet tooth in any family.

Vegan Christmas Centrepiece

Vegan Christmas Centerpiece

I have given amounts based on the number of balls I used, however my tree is a little squat, so if your skill surpasses mine, go ahead and use all the balls. I had about 12 balls left over for pre-Christmas enjoyment.

  • 1/2 recipe of Chocolate Balls
  • 2/3 recipe of Coconut White Chocolate Balls
  • Whole recipe Ginger and Marzipan Balls
  • Whole Recipe Lamington Bites
  • 1 Tbs vegetable shortening
  • 1/3 cup powdered sugar or icing mixture
  • about 2 tsp marzipan for decorations (you could use any lolly here)
  • 2 tsp soy milk
  • Large, decorative plate
  • 10-20 toothpicks
  1. On a pastry board, roll out a small piece of marzipan to about 7mm thickness, and cut into a star shape. Carefully slide a toothpick vertically through the star, so that about 1/2 the toothpick remains visible, and set aside.
  2. In a small saucepan, melt the vegetable shortening.
  3. Remove from heat and add the sugar, stirring until all lumps are removed and the two are combined.
  4. Add soy milk, and stir to combine well.
  5. Pour the mixture in a dollop onto the middle of your plate. Encourage the mixture to spread into a circle, taking up about two thirds of the surface of the plate.
  6. Arrange your bottom layer of balls so that they cover the icing mixture. Allow to set.
  7. Carefully, place a second layer of balls above the first layer, use toothpicks to secure. Make this second layer in a slightly smaller circle than the first.
  8. Repeat until you have one single ball as a pinnacle.
  9. Top with the marzipan star, by sliding the remaining end of the toothpick into the top ball

You could decorate with sifted powdered sugar, and/or Christmas themed or sparkly lollies. I didn’t as I cant find vegan lollies, and powdered sugar only comes at a premium (and I ran out of my stock). I think it would look great with some sparkly sprinkles, but I don’t have access to them in Tbilisi.

I make so-called “rum balls”, in various incarnations, every Christmas. When I was a (non-vegan) kid, they had sweetened condensed milk and Marie biscuits. In Melbourne I make my own condensed milk from powdered soy milk, and prefer gluten free biscuits. Mostly I leave out the rum, having half a family populated by children, non-drinkers, and rum-haters. That said, for the other side I the family, I have been known to make them with a shot of any spirit that comes to hand, including vodka, schnapps, and one time, tequila.

Here in Tbilisi I have to cook without vegan candy, food colouring, vanilla, flavourings, margarine, rum or anything resembling soy condensed milk or soy milk powder. This makes these versions extra special, but maybe a little more fiddly than usual.

The bottom layer, on top of the icing
During construction

Chocolate Balls

makes about 20

•    150 g plain biscuits (any kind – tea biscuits, digestive, animals, whatever)
•    1/4 cup coconut milk
•    2 tbs brown sugar
•    1 tbs vegetable shortening
•    1/4 cup cocoa
•    1/3 cup powdered sugar
•    3tbs sultanas
•    about 30g dessicated coconut, for rolling

  1. Crush the biscuits, either with a food processor, or in a bowl with the bottom of a cup.
  2. Add cocoa and powdered sugar, and combine well. Set aside in a clean mixing bowl.
  3. In a small saucepan heat the coconut milk and brown sugar, stirring until the sugar dissolves.
  4. Remove from heat, add the vegetable shortening, and stir until melted.
  5. Pour the wet ingredients onto the dry, and mix well with a wooden spoon. Add the sultanas and stir through.
  6. Roll tablespoons of the mixture into balls with your hands, and then roll them through a small bowl of dessicated coconut, to coat.
  7. Set on a plate and refrigerate until ready to use (at least 20 minutes).
Chocolate Balls

Lamington Bites

Makes about 10

  • 120g biscuits with a good flavour. I used Louts this time, but tea biscuits work well.
  • 1/4 cup jam (you could use any, but here I used cornell jam)
  • 2 tbsp soy milk
  • about 30g dessicated coconut
  • 1 tbs cocoa powder
  1. In a small bowl, combine cocoa and coconut and set aside.
  2. Crush biscuits very finely, using a food processor, or smooshing them with the bottom of a cup.
  3. Add jam and milk to the crumbs, and work into a dough with your hands.
  4. Roll the mixture into around 10 balls
  5. Roll each ball in the cocoa and coconut mixture to coat, and refrigerate until ready to use.

    Lamington Bites

Coconut and White Chocolate Balls

makes about 15

•    80ml coconut mik
•    1/4 cup white sugar
•    1 tbs vanilla sugar
•    3 tbs vegetable shortening
•    70g white chocolate
•    40g dessicated coconut
•    1 1/2 cup crushed plain biscuits (I use animal biscuits)
•    30g coconut, for dusting

  1. Crush the biscuits in a food processor, or with the bottom of a cup, and set aside.
  2. In a small saucepan heat the coconut milk, white sugar and vanilla sugar. Stir until the sugar dissolves.
  3. Remove from heat and add the shortening and chocolate, stirring until melted and combined.
  4. Add coconut and biscuit crumbs, stir to combine. Spread mixture on a plate and refrigerate until cool, about 30 minutes.
  5. Roll tablespoon sized balls, coat in more coconut, and refrigerate until ready to use.
Coconut-White Chocolate Balls

Gingerbread and Marzipan Balls

Makes 10.

•    1 1/2 tbs brown sugar
•    3 tbs soy milk
•    2tbs vegetable shortening
•    100g lotus biscuits
•    2 tsp ginger powder
•    1/2 tsp cinnamon powder
•    dash clove powder
•    dash grated nutmeg
•    10 marzipan spuds (if you can’t by them, roll small balls of marzipan)
•    1/3 cup powdered sugar, for coating

  1. In a small saucepan heat the milk and sugar, stirring until the sugar is dissolved.
  2. Remove from heat and add the shortening, stirring until melted.
  3. In a clean, dry bowl, crush the biscuits finely, and combine with spices.
  4. Mix the wet and dry ingredients, then spread on a plate and refrigerate until cool (20 minutes).
  5. Divide the mixture into 10 and wrap carefully around the marzipan spuds.
  6. Roll in powdered sugar until well coated, and refrigerate until ready to serve.
Gingerbread and marzipan balls

I think these ones turned out a little ugly, but you could always roll them in coconut or cocoa instead. I was going for a German christmas cookie look, but I don’t think I got it :(.

Last but not least, and on a bit of a tangent… The answers for the Christmas Traditions Quiz!

  1. Norway
  2. Catalonia (so found in Spain, parts of France, Andorra)
  3. USA
  4. Italy
  5. UK
  6. Ukraine
  7. Georgia
  8. Wales

Next up on AroundTheWorlVegan, what do people eat at Christmas around the world?


8 Comments Add yours

    1. Keira says:

      Thanks 🙂 It was a lot of fun, too.

  1. Sue says:

    Yummo! I’m looking forward to your return home so you can can make this dessert for the family reunion!

    1. Keira says:

      But not in a tree shape please – it was very difficult. I’ll have to come up with a more appropriate shape. A house, maybe? (for coming home). Or just a bowl full of them, to symbolise eating them all very quickly?

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