You will need
4 oz caster sugar
few drops almond essence
6 oz ground almonds
4 tbsps cocoa powder
4 oz cake crumbs (any type of cake, dryer the better but not mouldy! I like to grate two day old madeira cake; it makes nice fine crumbs. Chocolate fudge cake adds to the intensity of the flavour but it's a little harder to crumble)
liquor or orange juice to taste (Mum uses rum, I use Cointreau, the orange juice version is very tasty too but lacks the kick. You could probably use rum flavouring if you liked)
petit fours cases (teeny tiny paper cake cases).
Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy (mix it together until it's pale yellow and soft. You definitely want to have left the butter out of the fridge for a while before doing this). Add almond essence, ground almonds, and cocoa and beat thoroughly. Add the cake crumbs and mix to form a stiff paste. You may need to add more crumbs (or almonds) if it seems too moist. It will definitely seem too moist if you use a gateaux style cake. Add liquor or orange juice - a couple of teaspoonsfull is usually plenty. But mix it, taste it, add more if you like. Knead the dough well until it is all smooth. If it is very soft and your hands are very warm, stick it in the 'fridge for a few minutes to let it cool down. Just long enough to drink a cup of coffee and find the vermicelli
In a separate bowl, pour out the vermicelli/sprinkles. I ran out, so switched to grated chocolate halfway through which worked equally well if not better. Definitely messier to prepare though. Especially if, like me, you leave the bowl of grated chocolate standing on the bit of work surface above the dishwasher whilst the dishwasher runs through the drying cycle. If you do do that, don't panic,
Now take that kneaded dough, pinch small lumps off, and roll them into balls. Nothing larger than an inch; this is seriously rich. Take each ball and roll it around in the vermicelli or grated chocolate until well coated. Then put it into a petit fours case. You can't see it very well here because I couldn't get the angles right, but these cases have lovely foil outsides; green and gold and red and silver. Very Christmassy.
Refrigerate until needed, then put on a plate with my mother's stuffed dates, Flake logs, and