STRAWBERRY CHEESECAKE RUM BALLS
1 package Strawberry Cheesecake Muffin Mix (I use Martha White, which just calls for 1/2 cup milk added)
1/4 cup RUM
1/4 cup milk
1/2 tsp. strawberry extract
about 1 TB strawberry preserves
about 2 TB rum (in addition to the 1/4 cup above)
up to 1-2 TB canned Cream Cheese frosting
red colored sugar (can mix with regular white sugar if you want it lighter)
Preheat oven to 350. Spray a square or round pan (doesn't really matter ~ about 8" or 9") with non-stick baking spray and set aside.
In a bowl, mix together the muffin mix, with 1/4 cup rum, milk and strawberry extract with a wooden spoon. Scrape the batter evenly into the pan. Bake for 10-15 minutes (depends on the color & size of the pan, and your oven ~ I used a dark pan for 10 minutes). If the top still leaves finger indentations, that's fine as long as a toothpick comes out clean. A tad underbaked is better than overbaked. Let it cool in the pan.
When the cake is cooled, crumble it up in a bowl with the strawberry preserves and rum (get in there with your hands. It's the only way to do this!). Add as much (or as little) of the cream cheese frosting as you need for the batter mixture to roll together in little balls in your hand (without being TOO sticky). The balls should be about 1" to 1-1/2" in diameter. (If you get too much frosting in there and they're too sticky, you can always add some powdered sugar and/or flour ~ but you don't really want to have to do that because they could get too sweet or floury-tasting then ~ so be careful about how much frosting you add. ~ but don't worry too much because you're going to roll them in the colored sugar which will absorb some of the stickiness.) Sorry if I'm not really exact about these measurements, but I've been making them for so many years that I just really do it "by feel" now!
I set all the balls out on waxed paper. Then put the red colored sugar into a small deep bowl, and roll the balls in them until they're covered. Put them into the bon bon papers and then into your storage container (or whatever serving tray you're going to use). They're actually better if they're chilled a little bit to firm them up.
Makes 2-3 dozen (depends how big you make them)
ALTERNATE SERVING SUGGESTION:
STRAWBERRY CHEESECAKE TRUFFLES: If you want TRUFFLES, you can melt some dark or white chocolate melting wafers (or chocolate or white almond bark) and dip your "naked" strawberry balls into that. Set them on waxed paper until the chocolate hardens. Then I'll go back and drizzle another color chocolate or decorator icing on top. These also freeze well.