Bourbon Balls


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??)

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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.

Oh, and–

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.)

See this recipe at Farm Bell Recipes and save it to your recipe box.

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Posted by Suzanne McMinn on December 18, 2008  

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42 Responses | RSS feed for comments on this post

  1. 12-18

    O. M. G. :heart: :heart: :heart:

    These look amazing! I like the idea of an excuse to run to the liquor store though! LOL :friday: It can’t possibly be that easy to make those! Maybe I’ll actually try that… if I can find that much powdered sugar haha. I love the “no calories” line lol.

    I was however reminded for a moment of the Alec Baldwin SNL skit of Pete Schwetty and his family recipe Schwetty Christmas Balls .. LOL :rotfl:

  2. 12-18

    That first paragraph cracked me up Suzanne!That candy looks yummy esp the last picture of it! Seriously tho, you reminded me of my Nana. She changed recipes all the time too. She could make any recipe better, or think up variations like you did. That truly is a talent. :heart: :chicken: :heart:

  3. 12-18

    These look incredibe. I don’t have time this year, but will be trying them out next year.

    This weekend is cookie baking weekend, and we have so many cookies already planned I don’t know if we have time to make them all.

  4. 12-18

    Bourbon balls are a staple gift at this house. Aren’t they good? We love them. Sometimes, when I am feeling especially creative, I will dip them in white chocolate and carefully stick on those pretty little fondant Christmas decorations. We make ours the weekend after Thanksgiving, and let them age to perfection for Christmas. Of course, it is necessary to taste one or eleven every day (quality control is so important during the aging process), so we do make a lot!

  5. 12-18

    Glad you enjoyed the recipe! I usually make them right after Thanksgiving and that way, they are PERFECT for giving as gifts during the holidays.

    I’ve also learned that kids make GREAT helpers. They love rolling the candy into balls (just like Play-Doh!). This year, I put the batter in a gallon Zip-Loc bag and then refrigerated it, since I didn’t have enough space in my fridge for all the balls. We just reached into the bag, pinched off the chilled dough, and then dipped it. I also used a baby fork to do the dipping, and that worked well. YUM!

  6. 12-18

    Usually I have to change my shirt at least 2 times per day because I am lactating ya know! Welllllll – I can blame you now for changing it the first time because of DROOOOOOL!!! LOL those look great!

  7. 12-18

    OMG those look so good. Yet another goodie to try to make before Christmas!! lol. Another trip to the liquor store. :) I have a brother in law who loves homemade goodies. He will get a few he never had before. YUM.

  8. 12-18

    My, those do look sinful.
    I have never made any recipe with liquor. Well, except for drinks.
    Someday, I’m gonna have to expand something other than my waist.

  9. 12-18

    Yes Kathryn – quality control is so crucial. Love this recipe. I made similar ones years ago and the recipe made like 100. I had to call my neighbor to come with reinforcements to help me. they were everywere, the bathroom, on the living room coffee table – everywhere!! we had to get more cholcolate too!!! Yes – great great gift idea – Georgia – did you see these too!!!! I mean who leaves out the bourgon!!!!

  10. 12-18

    oops – bourbon – I have not had a drop this morning!!!

  11. 12-18

    I like the sounds of this recipe because it doesn’t call for crushed cookies. I don’t especially care for wet, soggy cookie crumbs. :) But this…this just sounds decadent. Now, I’m seriously wanting to find time to do these!

  12. 12-18

    Oh, Suzanne, you are breaking my heart!! I’m a late riser by your standards, and here my first glimpse of the day is filled with beautiful chocolate bourbon balls! BTW, is that Spice in the photo or another kitty? She looks so much like my Emma – we need a Calico in this collection! :catmeow:

  13. 12-18

    I have to make them now just so we can call them “schwetty balls”. Thanks Patty for that reminder! And thanks Suzanne for the recipe!

  14. 12-18

    That’s Sugar in today’s daily farm photo–she’s my calico. Spice is my mischief-making black and white kitty.

  15. 12-18

    (hick-up!) Hey thanks for the recipe! (hick-up!)
    :friday: :lol:
    Blessings from Ohio…

  16. 12-18

    My mouth is watering …

  17. 12-18

    I’ve loved taking this journey with you from the slanted little house to the lovely home you have now, with the animals and wonderful recipes. Thank you so much, have a wonderful Christmas and best wishes for 2009

  18. 12-18

    MMMMMMMMmmmmmm – I want to try with Raspberry Liquor and dark chocolate – If I did I might not get enough to give as gifts!!!

  19. 12-18

    I am making your Georgia’s pumpkin bread today for gifts and it is wonderful. My husband who doesn’t care for pumpkin bread is on his 2nd. slice. You ask for ideas for homemade gifts-I made a quilted table runner and small wall hanger for 2 of my gifts.

  20. 12-18

    My favorite part of this recipe is no calories!! :flying:

  21. 12-18

    I’ve never had these before and am eager to try the recipe! Are they super sweet?

  22. 12-18

    Awesome looking bourbon balls!

  23. 12-18

    :cattail: I have got to try these. I think i will make them as something extra to take to a friends cookie party on Sunday that way i get to try some but i wont have them sitting around the house tempting me. I might just call them Schwetty Balls and see if anyone says anything – lol :cattail:

  24. 12-18

    OMG! I wish I were on your LIST…YUMMMMMM Those look WONDERFUL, Suzanne! I would love to try your recipe and also try them, with vanilla centers and I don’t know, chocolate buttercream pecan…RUM…the list is endless as you said..heck, you could also do MINT centers…

    I have not made candy yet, however, I did purchase a candy dipping fork from a kitchen store near me, to make Martha Washington’s…but never did…maybe now, like next Spring, I will put my candy dipping fork to use! It’s long and looks plastic..I can’t even remember now. LOL Seems it has two tongs.

  25. 12-18

    For Valentine’s Day, you could do cinnamon in the center or strawberry flavor…Easter could be orange, lemon or marshmallow…on and on. I love that idea!

  26. 12-18

    I forgot to mention kitty…how adorable!!! :catmeow: :mrgreen:

    Also, I would toast the nuts in my candy, IF you can…I prefer toasted nuts.

  27. 12-18

    I haven’t made this kind before but I do have a rum ball recipe that I changed where I exchanged half of the chopped nuts for chopped dried cherries (that we dried ourselves)and soaked them with cherry brandy overnight. I do the same thing when making chocolate cover cherries, soaking the cherries overnight in brandy.
    Hmmm I wonder how these would be with coconut adding in? I wonder if you added candied cherries and pineapple to create a mini fruitcake type of ball? lol

  28. 12-18

    They look yummy and I can’t lay down a piece of paper in my house without a cat laying on it lol.

  29. 12-24

    Followed this recipe to a tee tonight and ended up with thick pancake batter like stuff. Mine looks nothing like yours and I can’t even begin to roll them out. Did you drain the Bourbon from the pecans before adding them?

    Ugh I even refrigerated all night and added more cups of powdered sugar :wall:

  30. 12-24

    Mandie, did you use 1/4 cup bourbon per 1 and 1/2 cups chopped nuts? That’s what I used and there wasn’t anything to drain. The bourbon completely absorbed into the nuts. (You need to let the bourbon and nuts sit at least three hours to soak in.) There was no extra liquid. I’m trying to think what else might have happened for you, but what comes to mind first is if you used more bourbon than called for? If not, then I’ll see if I can figure out another possibility!

  31. 2-1

    I’ve made these twice since you posted the recipe…I LOVE them!!! I wanted to tell you what I did with the 2nd batch…I used a small crockpot for the chocolate bark dip(it kept it nice and warm and I didn’t have to rush to get them dipped and I added a tablespoon of solid shortning to make it not quite so thick….Just wanted you to know that either way they are WONDERFUL!!!!!!

  32. 9-21

    Those look so good!!Can you use another kind of liquor or none at all, like another flavoring> as I have not had that – not sure if I’d like it…but I do love Rum. Or for those that are not Boozers, is there just a flavoring you can use in place of that?

  33. 9-21

    Yes, you can use other liquors.

  34. 11-10

    :lol: You are a hoot Katheryn. I loved the 1 or 11; made me belly laugh just like Suzanne’s “people get all excited when you use words like bourbon or rum.

    Love this blog

  35. 11-2

    Please tell me I read that right , are these really calorie free or were you just kidding? (LOL) . I have been craving something chocolate for a while and these look soooooo good (I may make some for xmas gifts as well :D ).

  36. 12-9

    I wondering about the chocolate coating… I’ve read that any moisture into the chocolate will cause it to seize. But I live in a warm climate, so when I take the balls out of the freezer condensation will form. Do you think that will be a problem?

  37. 12-9

    Melissa, I don’t know. It’s cold here so when I take the bourbon balls out of the freezer, they aren’t in a warm environment. You might not want to freeze it.

  38. 12-28

    Can you use walnuts in these? I’d like to make some but right now all I have are walnuts. (sorry for the 50 gazillion questions a day LOL).

  39. 12-28

    I don’t see any reason you couldn’t use walnuts!

  40. 9-8

    These look amazing and I will make them this year for Christmas gifts. And – since I am from KY and live within 20 minutes of the Maker’s Mark distillery – glad to see the KY bourbon being used :)

  41. 12-7

    Holy COW! These look awesome! I’ve been making bourbon and rum balls for years now, but my recipe uses (the dreaded) cookie crumbs instead of just sugar. I have a heck of a sweet tooth, but I think this recipe might be too sweet for me. I love the way they look like they’re melting after you take a bite, tho. And I might have to try soaking my nuts before mixing my next batch.

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