One of the things I love about food and desserts is that they can so strongly link us to certain places and times. Pumpkin pie is Thanksgiving, as is Green Bean Casserole, at least the Thanksgiving of my childhood. Nowadays I’m spending Thanksgivings in the South, and there seems to be a lack of appreciation for this traditional dish down here. It’s alright; I’ve come to appreciate the sweet potato casserole that my mother-in-law makes, with the pralined pecan topping (utterly delicious), even if I still don’t really get it about cornbread.
One of the desserts that I’ve come to associate with Christmas is these Bourbon Balls. They’re something my mother-in-law also usually makes, and they’re little spheres of heaven. Crunchy on the outside from the demerara sugar, dense and sugary and boozy on the inside. One can last you for ten minutes, at least. They’re not really something you just pop into your mouth. You take nibbles. You savor.
Making them is a very simple process, at least it is with a food processor. I spent years and years without one, or the past few years with a very small (2-3 cup) processor, doing crumbs in batches. This year, the bourbon balls took all of about ten minutes to put together, and another 10-15 to scoop and roll in sugar. The payoff, though? A whole lotta tasty bourbon goodness. Yum.
Adapted from the Williamsburg Cookbook
8 oz semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
60 Nilla Wafers (about 8 oz)
1 cup finely chopped pecans
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup bourbon (I used Maker’s Mark)
1/4 cup light corn syrup
Raw or Demerara Sugar for rolling
Melt chocolate over boiler or nuke it.
Grind nilla wafers in food processor. Add pecans and sugar, pulse several times. Pour into large bowl. Add chocolate, bourbon, corn syrup, and stir to mix thoroughly.
Form into balls (I used a #50 scoop), roll in sugar, chill to set. Makes zillions (about 60)