Aunt Marie's Bourbon Balls

Here in Kentucky, we take our bourbon seriously. We all have a favorite brand (I'm a Maker's Mark girl). Some of us even

dress our bourbon up to keep it festive

.

In my family, it just isn't the holiday season until somebody makes a batch of bourbon balls.  These are adapted from my Great-Aunt Marie's recipe, and are my go-to holiday treat.  I love to make up little bags or boxes to give as last-minute presents or to take to holiday gatherings.  The melted chocolate is a little tricky, but they're so worth the hassle.

  • 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 walnut-sized 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.
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