Kartoshka Rum Balls Recipe

Kartoshka Rum Balls Recipe is made with some cake or cookie crumbs then mixed with sweetened condensed milk buttercream, walnuts, cocoa powder and spiked with some rum. Whether you roll the Rum Balls in the cocoa powder or dip them in melted chocolate is up to you. Either way, these rum balls will be delicious!

Kartoshka Rum Balls are made with a delicious sponge cake or cookie crumbs then mixed with sweetened condensed milk buttercream, walnuts, and cocoa powder. Whether you roll them in cocoa powder or dip in melted chocolate is up to you. Either way, these rum balls will be delicious!

What is Kartoshka (Chocolate Rum Balls)

The word Kartoshka translates as “potato” from Russian. Many bakeries in the post-Soviet countries still carry these delicious cake truffles which originally came to existence as a way for bakeries to use the cake scraps that were left at the end of the day.

The authentic Russian Rum Balls were shaped into little logs, then dusted with cocoa powder to resemble a dusty potato. Hence the name Kartoshka. Sometimes the bakeries would even pipe out little buttercream “sprouts” to really give the pastries that authentic look of potato or Kartoshka.

Chocolate Rum Balls coated in cocoa spread on a marble slab.

What Can Kartoshka Rum Balls be made with?

In this Kartoshka Recipe, we are baking a sponge cake and making a buttercream specifically to then mix and make the Bacardi Rum Balls. BUT! if you have some leftover cake that isn’t going to get eaten as is, go ahead and mix it in a mixer with some melted chocolate, nuts, dried fruit, and brandy, then shape into rum balls for a different twist on this delicious Kartoshka recipe.

Chocolate Cake Truffles are made with some cake or cookie crumbs,nsweetened condensed milk buttercream, walnuts, and cocoa.

Two ways to decorate the Russian Rum Balls

  • One is to roll about 2 tablespoons of dough into a ball, then roll it in cocoa powder for the “dusty potato” look.
  • The other one is to use either melted chocolate (chocolate melts work best), or this chocolate ganache (a mixture of chopped chocolate & hot heavy cream) to dip the rolled chocolate truffles, and then decorate with white “potato sprouts” with the reserved buttercream.

Kartoshka Cake Truffles are made with a delicious sponge cake or cookie crumbs, then mixed with sweetened condensed milk buttercream, walnuts, and cocoa to resemble a potato, which is what these pastries were named after.

How to make Quick Kartoshka Cake Truffles

The base of Kartoshka cake truffle is made with cake crumbs. You can either make some from scratch as I show in this recipe or replace them with 6 cups of crushed (use a rolling pin) mild-flavored cookies like Nilla wafers or even Graham Crackers.

Kartoshka Rum Balls

Ingredients for Kartoshka Rum Balls

1.5 recipes –  Sponge Cake

1 recipe – Russian Buttercream

Also

  • rum or cognac (Bacardi works well)
  • roasted walnuts
  • cocoa powder, for chocolate flavor (optional)

Coating Mixture

  • cocoa powder
  • powdered sugar OR 6 Tbsp hot cocoa mixture

OR

The Best Cake Balls out there! by Let the Baking Begin!

Make the Sponge Cake (1.5 recipes) – (increase the “servings” in the recipe card to 18, then print the recipe with adjusted ingredient amounts and bake it.

Russian Buttercream Ingredients:

The Best Cake Balls out there! by Let the Baking Begin!

  • Follow the directions HERE on how to make the Russian Buttercream with room temperature butter and sweetened condensed milk.

How to Roast Walnuts for Kartoshka 

  • Roast the walnuts by placing them on a baking sheet into a 325F oven for about 12-15 minutes. Keep a close eye on them as they burn easily. Every 3-4 minutes give the baking sheet a toss, to promote even roasting of walnuts. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
  • Chop the toasted walnuts into small pieces.

The Best Cake Balls out there! by Let the Baking Begin!

Form or Assemble the Kartoshka Rum Balls

  • If planning to pipe out the “potato sprouts” on the outside of the Kartoshka, reserve about 1/3 cup of the prepared Russian Buttercream for it.
  • Break the cooled cake into small pieces and add them to a bowl of a mixer. Combine them with the prepared buttercream, walnuts and cognac or rum (if using).
  • With beater attachment mix everything together until it resembles a moist mixture for forming Rum Balls.

Kartoshka Cake Truffles are made with a delicious sponge cake or cookie crumbs, then mixed with sweetened condensed milk buttercream, walnuts, and cocoa to resemble a potato, which is what these pastries were named after.The Best Cake Balls out there! by Let the Baking Begin!

  • With a small ice cream scoop or a spoon, pinch off about 1.5 – 2 tablespoons of the cake truffle mixture and form a ball. Repeat with the rest of the mixture.
  • To coat the cake truffles in cocoa: Combine 3 tablespoons cocoa powder and 3 tablespoons powdered sugar. Stir to combine. Roll the Kartoshka truffles in the cocoa.

Kartoshka Cake Truffles are made with a delicious sponge cake or cookie crumbs, then mixed with sweetened condensed milk buttercream, walnuts, and cocoa to resemble a potato, which is what these pastries were named after.

  • Alternatively, you can melt 2 cups of dark chocolate melts over a double boiler, then roll each rolled cake ball in the chocolate and set them on parchment paper to set. This way the chocolate will dry into a hard coating.
  • Or make 2 recipes of this Extra Shiny Chocolate Ganache and coat each cake truffle in it. The chocolate pastries will be a tad sticky since the ganache does not dry into a hard coating. Finish by piping the “potato sprouts” on top of the Kartoshka with the reserved buttercream.

Other Desserts to try

Kartoshka Rum Balls

Kartoshka Pirozheno - Chocolate Cake Truffle
5 from 1 vote

Kartoshka Rum Balls are made with a delicious sponge cake, sweetened condensed milk buttercream, roasted walnuts, and cocoa to resemble a potato, which is what these pastries were named after.

Author: Marina | Let the Baking Begin
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American, Russian
Keyword: cake pops, cake truffles, kartoshka, rum balls
Calories: 97 kcal
Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Servings: 45 -50 cake balls

Ingredients

Sponge Cake

Russian Buttercream

  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature (230 grams)
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk, room temperature

Also

  • 2 Tbsp rum or cognac (like Bacardi), use up to 1/3 cup optional
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts (or any other nuts you like)
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder (optional)

Coating Mixture

Instructions

Make the Sponge Cake or Use 6 cups of Crushed Nilla Cookies

  1. Whip 6 eggs with a mixer on high speed, in a grease-free bowl until frothy. Gradually add the sugar, pouring it between the bowl and the whisk. Continue whipping for 15 minutes until pale in color, thick and flows off the whisk in a ribbon.

  2. While the eggs are whipping, turn the oven to 350F. Also, line a 9"x13" baking pan with foil and spray with nonstick spray, or butter the pan and add a heaping spoon of flour, then shake to coat it with flour. Shake out the excess.

  3. Sift the flour and baking soda mixture into the egg mixture, in thirds, carefully folding it in to prevent deflating the batter.

  4. Once the flour is fully incorporated, add the oil and the vanilla extract. Fold it in until fully incorporated.
  5. Pour the batter into the buttered pan and spread it out evenly. Bake at 350F for 15+ minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  6. Remove the cake with the foil to the counter, carefully unfold the sides and allow to cool for 5 minutes. Then invert it onto a rack and allow to cool completely.

Russian Buttercream - While the sponge cake is cooling make the buttercream.

  1. Add room temperature butter to the mixer and whip with on high until white in color and fluffy, about 4 minutes.

  2. While continuing to whip, add the sweetened condensed milk by allowing it to flow down the inside of the bowl. If the buttercream starts to look broken, stop the mixer right away and fold the remainder of the sweetened condensed milk in with the spatula. 

Assembly

  1. Break the cooled cake into small pieces. Add the broken pieces of cake and rum to the buttercream (and cocoa powder, if using) and using the beater attachment combine together, for about 2-3 minutes or until it starts looking like dough. Add the nuts and mix until combined. Taste the mixture and add more rum if desired.

  2. Pinch off about 1.5 -2  tablespoons of the cake ball mixture and form a ball. Repeat with the rest of the mixture. If the mixture is too soft to roll, refrigerate until it's malleable and easy to roll.

  3. Combine 3 tablespoons cocoa powder and 3 tablespoons powdered sugar. Stir to combine. Dip and roll each ball in the mixture. Set aside. Once done, coat each ball in the cocoa mixture one more time.

  4. Transfer to a serving platter and serve, or transfer to refrigerator until ready to serve.
  5. Alternatively, you can melt 2 cups of dark chocolate melts over a double boiler, then roll each rolled cake ball in the chocolate and set them on parchment paper to set. This way the chocolate will dry into a hard coating.

  6. Or make 2 recipes of this Extra Shiny Chocolate Ganache and coat each cake truffle in it. The chocolate pastries will be a tad sticky, since the ganache does not dry into a hard coating. Finish by piping the "potato sprouts" on top of the Kartoshka with the reserved buttercream.

Recipe Notes

How to make Quick Kartoshka Cake Truffles

The base of Kartoshka cake truffle is cake crumbs. You can either make one from scratch like I show in this recipe, or replace it with 4 cups of crushed mild flavored cookies like Nilla wafers or even Graham Crackers

Nutrition Facts
Kartoshka Rum Balls
Amount Per Serving
Calories 97 Calories from Fat 27
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 3g 5%
Cholesterol 24mg 8%
Sodium 34mg 1%
Potassium 71mg 2%
Total Carbohydrates 16g 5%
Sugars 12g
Protein 2g 4%
Vitamin A 1.1%
Vitamin C 0.3%
Calcium 3.2%
Iron 3%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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  • Oh my goodness this looks like a piece of heaven!

    · Reply
  • Alina

    Thank u so so much for the recipe, I was looking for Kartoshka recipe and I couldn’t find good one with biskvit only with cookies and then I checked your site. Thank u. It’s amazing dessert if followed ur instructions! A+

    · Reply
  • Natasha

    Hi Marina!
    I’m planning on making this recipe but am not seeing where and when to add the rum? Can you help me out please!
    Thanks!

    · Reply
  • ajay

    This recipe does not work. You end up with a gooey, sticky, too-liquid mess. I don’t know, maybe different brands of milk work different. There’s no way that this one makes a solid “buttercream” though. Avoid.

    · Reply
    • Hi Ajay,
      I’m sorry you weren’t able to get the buttercream to the right consistency. This is a pretty classic recipe for Russian buttercream that is used consistently in Russian cakes, so the recipe is definitely not the problem (as seen on the step by step pictures in the recipe).

      I can think of a couple reasons why it didn’t work for you though.

      1. Sometimes people confuse sweetened condensed milk with evaporated milk. If evaporated instead of sweetened condensed milk was used then it would definitely not work. Because it’s like mixing water and butter.

      2. Other brands of sweetened condensed can be runnier than the one you see in the pictures, and that can in turn make the buttercream runnier.
      3. If you butter is too soft (if you press on it with a finger it goes down with no resistance at all) it won’t be able to hold on to the condensed milk and will be very runny. So the butter needs to be left at room temperature for a couple hours not for 10 hours.
      4. If your butter is the right temperature and is not too soft but you don’t whip it up enough as specified in the recipe, there will not be enough air incorporated into the butter, which will also overwhelm the butter and create a runny buttercream.

      #2 – #4 do not matter though, because even if you were to just put the butter and condensed milk together and whip it for 30 seconds just until combined and it was as runny as can be, once added to the cake you will still be able to shape the cake balls.

      So that leaves only #1. In which case unfortunately if the directions of the recipe were not followed, the end result can not be guaranteed.

      · Reply
  • Alyona

    Can you make them the night before? Or they have to be consumed same day?

    · Reply
    • Oh yes, they keep just fine for several days in the fridge.

      · Reply
  • Lana

    I love the step by step pictures, thank you!!!! looks delicious

    · Reply
  • Julia

    This would be a great project to do with kids, i know my boys would enjoy rolling them out with me. Thanks for the recipe!

    · Reply
    • Yes, that’s a great idea to make these with kids! Kids would love rolling them and may be even coating in the cocoa 🙂 Thanks Julia!

      · Reply
  • foodlikecake

    These look very good!

    · Reply
  • Tatyana

    All I can say is thank you!

    · Reply
    • Enjoy, you’re welcome! 🙂

      · Reply
  • Julia @Vikalinka

    I am feeling seriously nostalgic right now, Marina! They look wonderful and I love the new blog design! 🙂

    · Reply
    • Thanks Julia, I think Kartoshka makes anyone feel nostalgic. it’s part of memories of so many 🙂

      · Reply

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