Balls of Bourbon

Been a bit boozy lately, haven’t I?

Well, it is the season of holiday parties, family gatherings, and all manner of cold-weather frolic that can be greatly enhanced by hot cocoa with a "bump"…

It’s Nana’s fault.

The old girl was a former society debutante who started smoking when she was a Campfire Girl and cocktailed promptly at 4pm until the day she died at the ripe ol’ age of 90.

From her I inherited my lack of height, two crystal decanters etched with the words SCOTCH and BOURBON, and the habit of asking for a "skowsch" of water with any single malt over 18 years old. She wasn’t the kind of grandmother that cuddled, but she was a pip and I rather liked her most of the time.

And now, during these festive days, there is a certain expectation from my social set that I arrive at a function with my signature treat. I bring bourbon balls.

Not a cookie, not a bar, these little high-octane balls will sit on any holiday table and command attention. It’s the wafting nose of sweet Kentucky mash. The little beauties aren’t cooked, so every bite reminds you what it’s like to be over 21. Some people will shy away, opting for a weak snickerdoodle, but those who induge will find soft notes of vanilla and hints of nutmeg that play well with the rich bourbony flavor.

Throw one home for Nana.

Bourbon Balls

3 cups Nilla Wafers

1 cup walnuts

2 cups powdered sugar

1/4 cup cocoa

2 tsp. nutmeg

1/4 cup corn syrup

1/2 cup + bourbon (Maker’s Mark, Jim Beam, etc.)

granulated sugar for rolling

In a food processor, grind up Nilla Wafers. Pour into a large bowl. Grind nuts, add to bowl. Add sugar, cocoa, and nutmeg and stir to evenly combine. In separate bowl mix corn syrup and bourbon, stirring until the syrup is dissolved. Work the liquid into the dry mixture, with your hands for best (but sticky) results. Knead the mix until all ingredients are combined, adding more bourbon if needed. The mix should be firm and sticky, not overly gooey.

Pull off a small chunk and roll between your palms into about a 2-inch ball. Roll the ball in a shallow bowl of sugar until coated. That’s it.

Store your bourbon balls in an airtight container and let them age for a few days.