Rose Levy Beranbaum’s Bourbon Balls
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“These no-bake cookies are the number-one most requested of all my holiday recipes,” she writes. “Traditional for that time of year, they are very appreciated all year round. They richly deserve homemade chocolate wafers (as do you!).”
Psst: You can find a recipe for those wafers in The Cookie Bible, but if you opt for store-bought, we won’t tell. Just make sure to plan ahead, as these treats taste best if made a day in advance.
Reprinted from The Cookie Bible by arrangement with Harvest, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers. Copyright © 2022, Rose Levy Beranbaum.
2 tablespoons (28g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
6.7 ounces (192g) chocolate wafers (homemade or store-bought)
¾ cup (75g) pecan halves
½ cup plus 2½ tablespoons (72g) confectioners’ sugar
⅓ cup (25g) sift unsweetened Dutch process cocoa powder
2 tablespoons (41g) corn syrup
1½ to 2½ tablespoons (22 to 37g) bourbon
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons (75g) granulated sugar
1. In several batches, pulverize the wafers into fine crumbs. Empty them into a large bowl.
2. Process the pecans with the powdered sugar and cocoa until finely ground. Add the butter and corn syrup; process until combined.
3. Scrape the mixture into the wafer crumbs and, with your fingers or a wooden spoon, mix until evenly incorporated.
4. Add 1½ tablespoons of the bourbon to the cookie crumb mixture. With a wooden spoon, stir until the mixture is uniform in consistency and begins to clean the sides of the bowl. Add up to 1 more tablespoon bourbon a teaspoon at a time if the mixture is too dry to hold together.
5. Let the mixture sit, covered, for 30 minutes to absorb the bourbon evenly. Add more bourbon if needed.
6. Scoop out level tablespoons (20g each) of the mixture and press and roll between the palms of your hands to shape into 1¼ inch balls.
7. Place the granulated sugar in a small bowl. Add one ball at a time and roll it around in the sugar. The coating is most attractive when the balls are dipped three times. Re-dip after the sugar starts to disappear.
8. Place the balls in a paper towel– or parchment–lined airtight container.
To make the dough by hand, first smash the wafers into crumbs by placing them in a resealable freezer bag and rolling with a rolling pin. Finely grind the pecans in batches in a spice mill with a little of the powdered sugar, or use a rotary nut grinder. In a medium bowl, whisk together the (remaining) powdered sugar, cocoa, and wafer crumbs. Add the butter, pecans and corn syrup. With a wooden spoon, stir until the mixture is uniform in consistency, then proceed to step 4.
A mixture of 2 tablespoons (30g) water and ½ tablespoon vanilla extract can be substituted for the bourbon.
The bourbon balls can be made up to six weeks ahead.