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Ouatic-7 [userpic]
Bourbon Balls of Doom!!! *

* At least I've been doomed to make them for my MIL for the last decade or more. I used to make them for my mother, as well.

The Recipe as she is writ in The Twelve Days of Christmas Cookbook by Suzanne Huntley:

Rum or Bourbon Balls are delicious presents and should be made a couple of weeks ahead of Christmas so that they can ripen nicely (1). Following is the classic recipe which will make about 6 dozen (2) balls:

1 cup vanilla-wafer crumbs (3)
1 cup pecans, chopped fine (4)
1 cup powdered sugar (5)
2 tablespoons Dutch cocoa (6)
1.5 tablespoons white Karo syrup (7)
.25 cup or more rum or bourbon (8)

Mix all ingredients together. Form in small balls, using about 1 rounded teaspoonful of the mixture for each ball (9). Roll in more powdered sugar and store in a tightly covered container. A variation substitutes gingersnaps (10) or crushed chocolate wafers for the vanilla wafers; if chocolate wafers are used, omit the cocoa. For another variation, use almonds or other nuts. Or roll the balls in cocoa or chopped nuts instead of sugar.

My Notes:

(1) The only ones that get made that far ahead get shipped out of state. Just made the batch for my MIL and I have one more I need to do.

(2) I've never counted them but that number seems high.

(3) I try to guess which are the highest quality vanilla wafers in the store and then chop the whole box in the food processor 'til it's pretty fine. That makes a bit over 2 cups. Pack your crumbs in the cup pretty good otherwise the dough might be a bit runny.

(4) I usually buy pecans and chop them in the food processor. You have to be careful that you don't end up with pecan butter. What I usually end up with resembles coarse sand. That's good because it gives the balls a bit of texture. Pack your nuts in the cup pretty good otherwise the dough might be a bit runny.

(5) Pack your sugar in the cup pretty good otherwise the dough might be a bit runny.

(6) I have never used non-Dutch process cocoa so I don't know what effect that would have.

(7) I'm lazy so I just measure the half tablespoon in the tablespoon measure and eyeball it. That seems to work for me.

(8) You know how they say "Never cook with wine you wouldn't drink"? The bourbon is crucial. Of course pilgham is a bit of a bourbon snob, as well. Anyways, I usually use Blantons but I imagine any drinkable bourbon works. If you use more than a quarter cup, the proportions get screwed up and the balls are runny. However, if the dough is a bit dry you can moisten it with a drop or three more.

(9) Forget the teaspoon. The stuff, it will have the texture of a fairly stiff cooky dough, will just adhere to the spoon. I just pinch off chunks which may be why I never get 6 dozen balls in a batch.

(10) pilgham loves gingersnaps so I tried that variation last year, rolling the balls in cocoa to differentiate them from the standard. It's definitely a different flavor but he liked it, so that's my last batch. I'll have to guess how many gingersnaps in a cup of crumbs.


Your secrets are revealed!

You seem to have turned your bourbon balls into an art form. Much better to have something just perfect that to fumble around with half a dozen different holiday treat recipes (like me!).

Re: Your secrets are revealed!

More a craft than an art. But, yeah, I stick with what works.

Re: Your secrets are revealed!

Bourbon balls, she has them down to a science.

Wish I could try them, but will have to wait until next year. I'm sure they'll turn out funny, can't follow directions.

I don't know why, but I'm amused by the conjoining of "bourbon" and "snob" in the same sentence. Shouldn't he have a genetic predisposition to something from the mother islands and not the colonies? I mean, really.

Becky makes rum balls with cake crumbs. Basically, it was a way to take care of all the detritus after making a giant cake of one sort or another. (There's only so much cake you can eat straight, right?) Yum.

No worries. He's a Scotch snob, too.

Cake crumbs would be good but if they aren't stale it would affect the amount of liquid needed, I think.

It's a problem getting the right flavor to proof ratio. Jim Beam really has no flavor at all. Wild Turkey has a good flavor, but the 101 proof, while it doesn't actually whack you over the head, does give you a persistent tapping that becomes annoying over time.

Blanton's has the best flavor and it's only 93. Unfortunately, this year, the chef-in-chief found out how much the tight fisted little bastards charge for one small decorative bottle of the stuff...

Is it me, or do have a history of your balls being runny? Perhaps the long preparation time is in favor further rum infusions. I've got a fruitcake recipe that's supposed to be started the year before and apparently consumes an entire bottle over time.

6 AM and I'm starting to "freshen" the damned salmon. That should be done sometime after 7 AM and from there it's air drying for an hour or two after a nice splash in rum and then God alone knows how long in a nearly stone cold smoker. Why do I think I should have a couple of packets of nova lox picked up? What? Don't I trust myself?!

How dare you insinuate that I have ever made runny bourbon balls! But my sister-in-law called me in a panic once.

If the goal was saving money, having ht ebackup plan kind of defeats the purpose of the effort. However, as an engineer, I am firmly in favor of having a fall back position. When will you know whether your fish has turned out?

According to the recipes, when hell freezes over. One advises four hours of air drying with rum basting and a brief time in the smoker. The other stumps for air dry, no baste and a possible 16 hours in the 70° smoker. Checking every 15" on the firebox.

I hope to waffle.

Waffles are good.

Okay, so this is likely the same reason I didn't make the Bourbon Balls last year, dammit. I forget that you're supposed to prepare them in advance!

They're still nummy even if you don't age them.

But, one thing and another, didn't make any myself this year.