I spent all day yesterday making bourbon balls. It was quite intoxicating. I’m just kidding. I don’t even like bourbon. (To drink. Bourbon flavoring in candy is a whole ‘nother thing.) But I won’t be downing these all by myself. I’m giving them away by the dozen for Christmas presents. Despite the nuts, chocolate, and bourbon in the recipe, considering you can make 6-8 dozen per recipe batch (depending on the size of your balls–and sheesh, get your mind out of the gutter–oh, wait that’s my mind…), it’s still a frugal gift. And kinda special because people get all excited when you use words like rum or bourbon.
This recipe comes from my friend Michelle, who has been talking about her holiday bourbon balls for years. I finally broke down and wheedled her recipe out of her. Of course, I immediately thought of five thousand ways to change it, so I want to point out that the bourbon in the recipe isn’t necessary. Not only could these be made with rum, amaretto, brandy (blackberry brandy! that’s what I want to use next time I make them!), etc, they could also be made with orange juice (I love the combination of orange and chocolate!) or anything else that tickles your fancy. The principle here is to soak the crushed nuts in a flavored liquid, so don’t be held back by the bourbon if you prefer to not cook with alcohol. Just substitute it with something else.
Here, however, is the basic recipe to start with before we start off on a thousand tangents.
(Note: I use CandiQuik for candy coating. It comes in chocolate and vanilla. You can get it at Wal-Mart. It sets up really fast. I love it. I wish they paid me to say that. CandiQuick people!!! Where are you??)
How to make Bourbon Balls:
1 1/2 cups finely chopped pecans
1/4 cup bourbon
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 teaspoon salt
1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
2 pounds plus 2 cups powdered sugar
1 1/2 pounds chocolate candy coating, melted
Soak pecan in bourbon three hours or overnight.
I bought a really small bottle of bourbon and still didn’t use it all. Don’t be alarmed at the large number of nuts in this photo as I was making multiple batches.
In a large mixing bowl, beat butter, vanilla, and salt until fluffy. Gradually beat in sweetened condensed milk.
Stir in pecan mixture and powdered sugar until well blended.
Two pounds of powdered sugar is a lot of powdered sugar.
I realized at this point that I couldn’t make a double batch in one bowl and had to split it out to two bowls, so don’t make that mistake if you’re multiplying the recipe.
Once you stir all the powdered sugar in, it’ll look like this.
Shape into 1-inch balls.
Place on baking sheets. Chill until firm. I actually just stuck them in the freezer to speed things up, then piled them up in gallon-size plastic baggies until I was ready to coat them.
Melt chocolate coating and drop the balls in the pot one at a time.
This is where it helps if the balls are frozen and therefore very firm. I used a toothpick to draw them out of the chocolate and set them on parchment sheets to set.
Once set, I placed each dozen in quart-size baggies.
To present as gifts, I’m placing them in yet more cute dollar store bags.
With, of course, the ubiquitous cookie ornament.
They’re really good and have no calories, in case you were wondering!
P.S. Store covered at room temperature or in the refrigerator. (Tip: These are a great make-ahead gift when you can because they taste even better when allowed to “age” for two weeks.)