Maker's Mark Bourbon Balls

Bourbon balls are a holiday tradition in my family. My great-aunt Marie -- of Coca-Cola cake fame--- made them every Christmas and passed the recipe along to all the nieces and nephews. The recipe is as much a part of the holiday tradition for my dad's side of the family as opening presents on Christmas Eve or telling the same family stories every year.

  • 1 to 2 cups good bourbon whisky (preferably Maker's Mark) 
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/2 to 1 cup whole pecan halves (optional) 
  • 1 two-pound bag of powdered sugar
  • 1 stick butter, softened
  • 1-2 bags semisweet chocolate chips (preferably Ghiradelli)
  • paraffin wax
  1. Place 1/2 to 1 cup of chopped pecans in shallow bowl. Pour Maker's Mark over nuts, immersing completely. Cover and let soak 12 hours to overnight. 
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place pecan halves in shallow pan and toast lightly for about ten minutes. 
  3. Cream butter in stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment. Combine bourbon-pecan mixture with just enough powdered sugar to form a stiff ball. Refrigerate to let stiffen slightly. 
  4. Roll dough into small balls. 
  5. In double-boiler (or a sauce pan placed over a cooker full of boiling water), add a third to a half a bag of semisweet chocolate chips and a small shaving of paraffin wax (no more than 1/4 cup). Heat until just smooth. Dip dough balls into the chocolate mixture. The key is to coat them quickly and make small, frequent batches of melted chocolate. 
  6. Place bourbon balls on wax paper to cool. Top each with a toasted pecan half, if desired. Results are better if you leave them to cool at room temperature rather than in the refrigerator.