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Have a VERY merry Christmas — Bourbon Balls

Bourbon Balls 1

I don’t know what it says about the general depravity of my childhood that when I think back to my favorite Christmas cookie growing up, it has to be bourbon balls. My grandmother used to make them every Christmas, and I’d look forward to them with eager anticipation. One year she decided to stop making them, (holiday cookies aren’t really my grandmother’s thing) and I attempted them myself (with my mom’s supervision — my childhood wasn’t THAT depraved) but sadly the proportions of the recipe were off, and they failed miserably, so I went bourbon ball-less. Until about 7 years ago, when I discovered this recipe. I’ve made bourbon balls every December since.

Bourbon Balls 2

The irony is, of course, that as an adult, bourbon is not my liquor of choice — I much prefer scotch or rye and will go so far as to substitute one of those in a cocktail traditionally made with bourbon. But there’s something seductive about the way it pairs with chocolate and I wouldn’t make these with any other liquor. (That’s my hangup though – feel free to substitute rum or brandy or even orange juice but understand that these are called bourbon balls because they contain bourbon and I make no guarantees of the tastiness of any other liquid choice).

They’re really more of a confection than a cookie — there’s no baking involved. And while I won’t deny that they are quite boozy when first made, they do mellow after a day or two and the bourbon flavor melds with the chocolate, vanilla and pecans. They keep for about a month, so they’re also a great gift for the holidays, and they come together quickly.

You just might want to avoid giving too many of them to children. Although they might ask or even beg for more.

Bourbon Balls
Prep time: 
Total time: 
  • 10 oz. Nilla wafers or graham crackers, crushed into crumbs (about 2.5 cups crumbs -- I grind them up in the food processor)
  • 1 c. pecan halves, ground finely in a food processor
  • ½ c. powdered sugar
  • 6 oz. chocolate chips
  • ½ c. bourbon
  • 3 T. golden syrup or light corn syrup
  1. Combine cookie crumbs, ground pecans and powdered sugar.
  2. In a microwaveable bowl, microwave the chocolate until it's melted (I usually do it for 30 seconds, then in 10 second intervals, stirring between each interval, and stop before they're totally melted because they'll melt as you stir). Add in bourbon and corn syrup and stir to combine (the chocolate will seize a bit and the bourbon won't incorporate well. Just do the best you can).
  3. Add the chocolate mixture to the crumbs mixture, and stir until thoroughly combined. Chill at least 30 minutes.
  4. Pour some granulated sugar into a dish. (For the red bourbon ball, I used red sanding sugar, but it didn't adhere to the cookies as well as the regular granulated sugar, and it also didn't taste quite as good). Form the chocolate mixture into small balls the size of grapes, and roll each ball in the sugar.
  5. These will store for up to a month in a lidded container.

Bourbon Balls 4

17 comments to Have a VERY merry Christmas — Bourbon Balls

  • Boozy and no bake- SOLD! I know exactly what I am going to make for the fam next week, can’t wait to try them.

  • You had me at bourbon! Add in balls and these are going on my must make list. My bourbon loving in-laws will swoon! Fantastic. (Oh and I love the photo with the single red ball – gorgeous!)

  • Mary Brooke

    Mmmm these look good. They kind of remind me of a particular SNL sketch, if anyone knows what I’m talking about (ha ha).

    I’ve been baking a lot with melted chocolate lately since aiding the Godiva Giveaway promotion (definitely worth checking out…sending free virtual gifts to friends could win you both a year of chocolate) and yeah, the ten second interval thing is necessary. Sometimes if I have extra time I’ll put the chocolate in a stainless steel bowl on top of the preheating oven; that gives it a nice slow melt.

    The only ingredient I’m a little iffy on is the corn syrup, which I try to stay away from, but I have a feeling the viscosity is a must. Are there any alternatives?

  • LOL! I have visions of you chewing on bourbon balls as a kid. I liked rum balls myself!

  • tiny home plans

    I now know what to make for tomorrow! Thanks! The kids in the neighborhood are going to have a party and this is what I will give them. Thanks.

  • Bev

    I think my MIL and step-FIL would lurve these!

  • Kate! You are ruining my plans to JUST STOP BAKING. However, this isn’t baking so I guess I can just make this one last recipe, right? :)

  • McQuackers

    Made these for my friends last night! They were great! =]

  • KL

    Being a Kentuckian who makes hundreds of bourbon balls each Christmas using a recipe that’s been passed down in my family for eternity, I have to say that is not a true bourbon ball recipe. Nilla wafers, graham crackers and corn syrup are not used in authentic bourbon balls.

  • Jenentonic

    I made these before Thanksgiving and am still eating them. They are divine and better the older they get. Definitely the best I’ve ever had…lack of authenticity is not a concern in my house.

  • Leann

    Anyone know about how many this makes?

  • these look so good I’m adding the link to my future post!

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