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This ‘Southern all the way around’ recipe for Fudgy Pecan Bourbon Balls may well be the quintessential symbol of Christmas in the South.
This recipe comes to us courtesy of Southern Living Magazine.
So, what’s an easy recipe for Bourbon Balls?
Watch my short video below and get the ball(s) rollin’…
When I was very young, the fancy chocolate balls were ‘off limits’ to us kids. I knew that the adults had to have it wrong, because these sweetly decorated chocolates were VERY CLEARLY on the cookie trays my Grandparents had scattered between the kitchen and the living room. Never mind the fact that the same cookie trays were ‘just out of reach’ of little hands.
If I wanted a cookie, Grandma would help me to select one by bringing the tray down to my level. Well, it was working for my grandparents until I took liberties. Fudgy Pecan Bourbon Balls you could say, have always been on my foodie radar…
I remember being in the living room by myself. Who knows if it was really me or an alternate force of nature (hahaha) but somehow the table that Grandma kept her knitting needles and yarn on was pushed right in front of the big table where that cookie tray called home.
In mere minutes, there I was, chocolate smeared all over my hands as if to tell the sordid story, and a big old chocolate ball squarely in my mouth. What happened next would be talked about for the next three decades, and not exactly in a good way…
Every year for Christmas I make a few treats to give to our friends and family. And every year for more than fifteen years, Fudgy Pecan Bourbon Balls have graced my gift tins.
Whether rum, bourbon, or cognac, confections crafted with liquors are ever popular around holiday time. Oddly enough, the idea is not terribly old, the bourbon ball making its debut just a few short years ago in 1938. As Wikipedia explains it, “the bourbon ball is a Southern delicacy, invented by Ruth Hanly Booe, one half of a two-woman candy company named Rebecca Ruth Candy.”
Along with her partner, Rebecca Gooch, the pair founded their candy store in Frankfort, Kentucky right as Prohibition took hold. The store was already struggling, mainly because this was a woman-owned business…in the American South…when it was unfashionable and considered ‘spinster’ for a woman to be independent, let alone the owner of a company.
Leave it to a couple of smart southern women to invent a candy that folks continue to obsess over almost 100 years later. Way to go, Girls, way to go!
After the Great Depression hit the United States in 1929, chocolate was far from being a necessary commodity. Banks were simply not prioritizing lending capital to a constantly struggling boutique candy business like the Rebecca Ruth Candy Company. A struggling candy business that was, until the idea of adding booze to the chocolates, took hold.
In not so many years, Miss Hanly Booe perfected her recipe for Bourbon Balls. The candy was an instant hit. It is purported that by the time World War II approached, government directed rationing wouldn’t even stop the Rebecca Ruth Candy Company. Steadfast and loyal customers of the uniquely crafted confections saved their sugar rations to share with the company.
Bourbon balls differ greatly from confection method to confection method. I enjoy the one I am highlighting today because it’s reasonably priced to make two dozen, and coupled with all of the holiday baking I do, this one is easy and can be done in between task-involved recipes.
The best bourbon ball recipe, in my opinion, comes from the folks at Southern Living Magazine. I have several bourbon ball recipes, but theirs tops my favorites list. Why? I guess because I would describe it to you as eating like and tasting like a rich and creamy fudge. Something somewhere between a bourbon ball and a chocolate truffle. Nothing at all like what I popped into my mouth as a kid trying to get away with something and nobody knowing it.
These chocolate bourbon balls are real honest to goodness chocolate enhanced by a very small amount of bourbon, and made satiny smooth with the use of heavy cream. The crushed pecans are also an added sweet finish. This ‘Southern all the way around’ recipe may just be the quintessential symbol of Christmas in the South.
If you take the time to make these, not only would I love to know how you enjoyed them, but also what some of your personal favorite holiday baking recipes are. A recipe that came over maybe with a grandparent or great grandparent? Drop me a line!
In the days leading up to Thanksgiving, I begin to sort the bulk of recipes that will make up my holiday gifting tins. It’s a chore to say the least, but you know as well as I do that we all end up baking something or another for the holidays. Whether it be a cookie of some kind, cheesecake bars, Christstollen (German Christmas Stollen), or a dried fruit and nutmeat loaf, we pause when we come across a new recipe, giving them a once over. I do it, too.
All images and text ©Jenny DeRemer for Not Entirely Average, LLC
Bourbon chocolate balls flank the muffin paper-filled stacks of cookies on the top layer of each tin, bars and fruit cake squares on the layer beneath. I consider the bourbon balls one of the most important commodities in each tin. In fifteen-ish years, this particular recipe has NEVER been removed from the final stack of recipes that will be baked for the gifts.
I have said it before, that when there are few ingredients that make up a recipe, QUALITY COUNTS. Be sure to purchase the best quality for all of your recipes that you can get your hands on. For these Fudgy Pecan Bourbon Balls, I am using Ghirardelli Chocolate, and Blanton’s Bourbon.
How Do You Make Bourbon Balls?
So… bourbon pecan balls are four ingredients folks. FOUR. They NEED to be the best you can get your hands on. The amount of bourbon required is minimal, but it should be smooth and fragrant and something you want to drink. Cooking the bourbon before any other ingredients are incorporated burns off a wee bit of the alcohol. Beyond heating the bourbon, this is the extent of the cooking in this recipe.
The heavy cream should be just that – heavy cream. Grab an OUTSTANDING brand of chocolate. Something that is at least 60% cacao dark chocolate. Milk chocolate will work, but do purchase GOOD CHOCOLATE.
Lastly, the pecans. You’ll need less than a cup. When you shop, if chopped and/or pecan pieces are more economical than pecan halves, buy those. Just as long as they are meant for baking and are unsalted. The chocolate mixture is chilled before being rolled in the chopped pecans, so have plastic film on hand also. It becomes necessary while the chocolate is cooling down.
All images and text ©Jenny DeRemer for Not Entirely Average, LLC
Get My Recipes for These Thoughtful (but sooo easy!) Cookies, Bars, and Cakes Just by Clicking on Each Highlighted Link Below
Fudgy Pecan Bourbon Balls
- Place chocolate in a medium bowl. Bring bourbon just to a simmer in a saucepan over medium heat until it begins to steam. Add the heavy cream and bring to a simmer once again. Remove from heat, and pour cream mixture over chocolate. Let stand 1 minute.
- Stir vigorously until cream and chocolate are thoroughly blended. Let mixture cool 15 minutes. Cover the surface of the chocolate with plastic wrap, and chill until firm, about 2 hours. (If you cannot make the truffles immediately, the mixture will keep, covered, in the fridge up to 1 week.)
- Place chopped pecans on a shallow plate. A pie plate works great for this step. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Working quickly and using a small warmed teaspoon (dipped into hot water and then dried), scoop chilled chocolate mixture by 2-teaspoon portions, and shape each into a ball. Place each ball on the bed of chopped pecans. Once the plate is filled, wash hands and roll balls in pecans to completely cover. Transfer balls to a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Repeat with remaining chocolate mixture and pecans until you have finished the chocolate.
- ** NOTE: I roll twice; I roll and chill, then roll again. I want my bourbon balls well-coated in chopped pecans.
- Chill balls until firm, about 1 hour. (Or freeze until firm, about 10 minutes.) Enjoy them now, gift them, or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator up to 1 week.
The nutrition value can vary depending on what product(s) you use. The information below is an estimate. Always use a calorie counter you are familiar with.
Please note that table salt and iodized salt are NOT substitutions for Kosher salt. Do not deviate unless otherwise specified.