For several years, I have made bourbon balls with a friend, using her mother's handwritten recipe straight from New Orleans. So imagine my surprise when I found the exact same recipe in “Joy of Cooking.” Since the recipe includes vanilla wafers as a primary ingredient, I suspect that it does not predate World War II.
My friend Nancy's passion for bourbon balls is undiminished from the time she first imbibed them. While in college at SMU, before the Christmas holidays Nancy got a tin from home -- her mother Mimi's bourbon balls. She and her roommate devoured the entire lovely, sugary contents. As nice young ladies with little or no experience with liquor, it was both novel and incendiary. I suspect that bourbon balls may become more powerful when stored.
- 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
- 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/4 cup bourbon
- 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
- 2 1/2 cups chopped vanilla wafers
- 1 cup finely chopped walnuts
In a bowl, sift together confectioners’ sugar and cocoa powder. In a separate bowl, whisk together bourbon and corn syrup and stir into cocoa mixture.
Crush vanilla wafers in a food processor or large Ziploc bag with a rolling pin. Add the walnuts and mix to combine. Add to the bourbon-cocoa mixture and mix thoroughly.
Roll dough into 1-inch balls. If the balls do not hold together, gradually add more bourbon and corn syrup until they do.
Roll balls in powdered sugar and store at room temperature between layers of waxed or parchment paper. “Joy of Cooking” claims they keep up to 3 weeks, but I doubt that is possible unless they’re well hidden.