Fudgy Bourbon Balls

By • January 5, 2011 44 Comments

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Author Notes: I never had a rum ball until I met Merrill. And Merrill knows a good rum ball when she tastes one; she has taught me the finer points of rum ball-dom. A proper rum ball must be dense but moist, and ideally a little gooey. It must sing with booze but shouldn't be too sweet. It should look unpromising and deliver a bang.

It turns out that our friend Melissa Clark has just the recipe for such proper rum balls in her terrific new book In the Kitchen with A Good Appetite. I tasted them at a recent joint book signing I did with Renato Poliafito and Matt Lewis (Baked Explorations), Melissa Vaughan and Michael Harlan Turkell (The New Brooklyn Cookbook), and Melissa. Barely a soul showed up, so we sat at the long signing table as if we were on a banquette at Balthazar, and dug into samples of the rum balls (a successful signing in my view).

What makes Melissa's rum balls peerless is that she uses Nabisco chocolate wafers, and a little honey to sweeten the "dough."
Amanda Hesser

Makes about 48 balls

  • 2 1/2 cups chocolate cookie crumbs (best made with Nabisco Famous wafers -- 1 package -- pulverized in a food processor)
  • 1 1/4 cups pecans
  • 1/2 cup good bourbon or rum
  • 1 cup confectioners' sugar, plus additional for rolling
  • 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons honey
  1. In the bowl of a food processor, pulse together the cookie crumbs and pecans until the nuts are finely ground.
  2. In a separate bowl, stir together the bourbon or rum, 1 cup confectioners' sugar, the cocoa powder, and honey. Add the mixture to the food processor and pulse until just combined. Let the dough rest, uncovered, at room temperature for 4 hours or, lightly covered, overnight. This will dry it out a little.
  3. Use your fingers to roll the dough into balls about 1 inch in diameter. Roll the balls in confectioners' sugar. Store the balls airtight if you like them moist, or uncovered if you like them to develop a crunchy sugar crust on the outside. Sprinkle with (or roll the balls in) additional confectioners' sugar just before serving.

More Great Recipes: Chocolate|Candy|Desserts

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Comments (44) Questions (1)

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9 months ago Julia Rieger

Could you sub in maple syrup instead of honey on these? I always think of maple going well with bourbon...

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9 months ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

Agree that the flavors would be great together -- my only concern is that maple syrup is a bit looser than honey and you might end up with a wetter mixture. Still, it seems worth trying and if the mixture is too wet, then perhaps add some more cookie crumbs. Let me know how it goes!

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9 months ago richard plagmann

I have been making a version of these for years. The trick is to hide them in the frig so they can sit for a few days. I did not use the chocolate cookies, could not locate so vanilla wafers worked perfectly as in the past.

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8 months ago Ariel

If you simply remove the filling from Oreos (also another Nabisco product) then you will have a fantastic ( and often less stale) substitute for the "Famous Wafers."....Cheers!

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over 1 year ago juicyrebound1

These just kept disappearing. The trick is to age them age at least 4 days before diving in, to let the heat of the alcohol subside. Jes' like Mama used to make! Also use decent booze, it makes a difference.

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almost 2 years ago Chelsey Pierce

is there any why to replace the bourbon?

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almost 2 years ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

Are you looking for a non-alcoholic substitute?

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almost 2 years ago Chelsey Pierce

yes

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almost 2 years ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

Tea or coffee would work well.

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almost 2 years ago Chelsey Pierce

thanks

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almost 2 years ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

I was also thinking about something like a light ginger syrup or spiced syrup, with a ratio of sugar to water that's more like 1 to 4.

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almost 2 years ago Noelle Paffett Lugassy

Any thoughts on the best way to make these gluten free? Thanks! Bourbon and chocolate are my fav two things. I might add a wee bit of salt flakes on top. Yum!

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over 1 year ago regan

I use gf ginger snaps or chocolate wafers from Whole Foods and they turn out perfect!

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over 2 years ago Suzanne Moore

Toasting the pecans adds to the flavor. I didn't have enough vanilla wafers so used some graham crackers and shortbread cookies from my pantry. After refrigerating the balls, I dipped them in white chocolate and added another whole toasted pecan on top. Needless to say, they where a hit at my Kentucky Derby party!

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over 2 years ago Muse

Have had these made by a friend of mine, and all I can say is Wow! They are SO delicious you can't stop/don't want to stop eating them! Will definitely make them myself!

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over 2 years ago Ellie.F

jus needed to know what else can i substitute other than bourbon or rum?
Plus can i used like oreo cookies if i dont have wafers??

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over 2 years ago Spork

Made this with Kahlua for the alcohol, delicious!

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over 2 years ago olygirl

Made these last night...Excited to give (what's left) to my friends for holiday treats. One question though, how long do they keep and how best to store them? If I were to make extra tonight, would they still be good for a new years party?

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over 2 years ago DAVILCHICK

I can't imagine them not all being eaten by then but maybe that's just me. ;)

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over 2 years ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

They might dry out a little if you make them tonight, but they're good for about a week, if kept wrapped tightly and packed in an airtight container in the fridge.

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over 2 years ago Bogey12

Have made this great recipe as it directs. If I change to use molasses, do I still use 1.5 Tbsp? And does the molasses work best when you use bourbon or is rum equally good?

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almost 3 years ago DAVILCHICK

I just made these a day ahead of the dinner party I plan to serve them at but was wondering if I'm supposed to refrigerate or just keep them in an air tight container but at room temp.

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almost 3 years ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

I'd chill them, then bring them to room temp before serving.

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over 2 years ago DAVILCHICK

Thank you!! And as long as I'm here, my husband and I couldn't help but TASTE one before serving to our guests. They are TO DIE for. I used rum and because it's only Dec 1st I'll be making all the variations. I'll try the bourbon next...I love the idea of the raspberries...I'm going to experiment with Grand Marnier and Creme de Minthe (unless you would advise othersie). Great hostess gift this season!! Thanks!!

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over 3 years ago Bonnie Confer

I decided to play with this after making them the normal way... I added some muddled fresh raspberries and just added a little less rum to balance out the wet dry ratio...I love them!

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over 3 years ago MrShayne

I made the rum version for our family Thanksgiving get-together and they were too stout for most people. I followed the recipe to the T. Even found the Nabisco chocolate wafers. Overall they had a great flavor but the half cup of rum was just way too much. I would make them again but only use 1/4 cup of alcohol. It was totally disappointing to watch people take a bite then throw the rest in the trash.

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over 2 years ago DAVILCHICK

I made the first batch with dark rum and I found it too burn-y too. For the second batch I used white rum but it didn't give the balls any flavor so I slowly added the dark rum (to taste) and that got the party started. I found the Bourbon amount to be perfect though.

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over 3 years ago knitnbead

I made these with a combination of leftover cookies (yeah, right) from Christmas, OK, there were some in my freezer that I did not gift. These came out just great. Yum...Hiccup!

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over 3 years ago Anniebfirst

Love the recipe - it looks delicious. But any suggestions for a gluten-free substitute for the wafers?

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over 3 years ago Jessica Edelman

Check whole foods for the gluten free graham crackers. They were perfect for pie crusts I imagine they will translate perfectly!

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over 3 years ago aeben

I always age my bourbon/rum balls making them around Halloween and serving them at Christmas. Store them in a tin with parchment between the layers and hide on pantry shelf. It greatly increases the flavor complexity.

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over 3 years ago TaffyIsVictory

Wonderful!

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over 3 years ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

I made these with bourbon for a cookie exchange party. They are seriously good, but not safe for work!! The flavor is nicely balanced between the boozy kick, chocolate, and nuts. I toasted the pecans to help accentuate them, and recommend doing so. I put them in white mini-muffin papers and sprinkled them with disco dust for a fancy holiday presentation. I plan on making another batch soon!

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over 3 years ago pamelalee

I made these with rum on my Christmas baking day a couple weeks ago. I took them to three holiday parties and still had extras to snack on for a few days when I got home from work.