The Holidays are upon us, and we are all busily baking cookies to share over the season. There are so many kinds of cookies to make, and the oven keeps the house warm, but not for Bourbon Balls. These are little spiked balls that deliver a lot of holiday cheer and do not need baking. They keep well with their alcohol content, so they can be made ahead. They can be frozen for weeks, if needed. |
Is Bourbon my only option?
What if you don’t like Bourbon? Then substitute another alcohol of choice. Rum is a great alternative, of course, but the flavor may be altered in many ways. I am considering trying out a batch using something like Cointreau, which is sweet, but not overly sweet, and would offer a wonderful orange flavor. Another liqueur I would like to try is Drambuie, though it is quite sweet. There are so many liquors and liqueurs around, and while it is best to stick to ones that are not sweetened, that does not lessen the options. Consider trying Malibu Rum for a coconut flavor. Let your mind roam through the liquor cabinet. Taste the differences in your mind.
Only vanilla wafers?
Another thing to consider is the cookie base. Normally, I use vanilla wafer cookies, as they do not have an outstanding flavor to interfere. As cocoa is part of the mixture, you are already dealing with the flavor of chocolate, but how about using a chocolate wafer? How about using gingersnaps? Pair the cookie flavor with the alcohol to get more options going. Just make sure the cookies are the harder sort, which will make good crumbs. While I have only made these with wafer cookies, I believe they could also be made with a sandwich type cookie. Obviously, making crumbs with sandwich cookies means that there will be cookie filling ground together with the cookie, so there is both added sweetness as well as added moisture. You may need to use less honey or corn syrup in the mixture to get it sticky enough to form into balls. And, if using sandwich cookies which are already sweeter, go for an alcohol that is not sweet. Think of what flavor combinations would work best.
I am offering all these thoughts and options, because I wish for everyone to find that perfect recipe. There is no baking involved, so there is no need to be concerned that they turn out baked properly. These are no bake, so there is much more flexibility. Use my recipe as a guideline and explore options.
Try different nuts in these cookies.
Bourbon Balls are usually made with walnuts or pecans. I prefer to finely grind the nuts, giving the cookies an even texture, but the nuts may also be coarser ground. This opens up the possibility for other types of nuts, such as hazelnuts, almonds, pistachios or macadamias. Some of these are harder to grind finely, but that should not stop one from using them. As long as the finished dough is sticky enough to hold their shape, it will work just fine.
The Basic Recipe for Bourbon Balls
3 cups finely crushed or ground vanilla wafers 1 1/2 cups ground nuts of choice, pecans or walnuts 1 1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder 3 tablespoons honey or light corn syrup 6 tablespoons Bourbon
Mix together the crushed wafers and ground nuts in a large bowl and set aside. In a smaller bowl combine the confectioners’ sugar and cocoa and whisk to combine. Mix together the honey and Bourbon, then stir this mixture into the confectioners’ sugar and cocoa and stir until well combined. Pour this mixture into the bowl of cookie crumbs and nuts and mix until it becomes cohesive and you can make a ball that will hold together. Form into 1 inch balls and roll them in granulated sugar. Makes approximately 4 dozen. These can also be rolled in confectioners’ sugar for a different coating, or colored sugar, or sprinkles. The combinations are almost limitless.
If the mixture will not hold together, try adding more honey or corn syrup first, then if they still do not hold together enough, use a little more of the alcohol of choice. If the cookies are too soft, more cookie crumbs will be needed to make them hold shape. Enjoy.
Thank you for taking the time to read my article. I hope it was informative and helped you along your own culinary journey.
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