Aunt Jane's Kentucky Bourbon Balls

November 29, 2016

Test Kitchen-Approved

Makes: just under 4 dozen

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces Nilla Wafers cookies
  • 4 ounces shelled pecans
  • 6 ounces semisweet chocolate (64% cacao)
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar, plus more for coating
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 6 tablespoons bourbon
In This Recipe

Directions

  1. In a food processor, reduce the Nilla wafers to fine crumbs and transfer to a large mixing bowl. Chop the pecans fine and add them to the bowl. Set aside.
  2. Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pot of over hot, but not boiling water. Stir in the sugar, corn syrup, and bourbon. Add this mixture to the crumb mixture. Blend by hand until well combined.
  3. Form tablespoon-sized lumps of the mixture unto balls, rolling between the palms of your hands. Drop the balls in a bowl of sugar and toss to coat. Transfer to an airtight container, arranging the balls in single layers separated by parchment. Store the bourbon balls tightly sealed at room temperature. They get better (mellower, and with a smoother texture) as they age.

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Reviews (29) Questions (0)

29 Reviews

Erica G. December 5, 2018
This is similar to my grandmother's recipe - except she used cocoa powder instead of melted chocolate. Thinking I had the recipe memorized one year, o had a lapse at the store when getting supplies. I accidentally bought Graham crackers instead of the Nilla wafers. I made it anyway, and the result was surprising delicious. The honey kn the graham crackers was a good pair with the bourbon.
 
Jennifer C. December 4, 2018
The bourbon flavor was great but the balls were really dry. I followed the recipe exactly and measured everything by weight. I would add more chocolate next time and fewer wafers.
 
Vicki R. September 11, 2017
I'm Southern, we still say Can I have some sugar.
 
TinaSMay December 23, 2016
I love the story, so well written and engaging. <br />This recipe sounds great...am wondering something on the Nilla Wafers. <br />Could I use Trader Joe's Ultimate Vanilla wafers? They are delish and have specks of vanilla bean in them. Or would they be too overpowering? Thanks.
 
Sandy December 22, 2016
Love the recipe, but the story!! Oh my! Everyone should have an "Aunt Jane" in their life!!
 
Pisanella December 14, 2016
Where's the story about Aunt Jane? Been scrolling...can't find it...
 
drbabs December 14, 2016
https://food52.com/blog/18549-a-bourbon-ball-that-shows-up-everything-at-the-neighbor-s-cookie-swap?utm_campaign=Social&utm_medium=SocialMarketing&utm_source=Facebook
 
Alison December 11, 2016
These were delicious even though very crumbly and time consuming to roll into balls. (Add a little bit of water if that happens.) Also, simply use Back To Nature brand Madagascar vanilla wafers to make this vegan. They arrived overnight from Soap.com. Easy. https://www.soap.com/p/back-to-nature-cookies-madagascar-vanilla-9-oz-200887?
 
stinkycheese December 8, 2016
I made a batch of these last weekend and they are curing in a tin. I'm trying to let them sit until I go to visit my family for Christmas. I am happy to honor Aunt Jane by sharing these with my family.
 
cookinalong December 4, 2016
Thank you so much for sharing this recipe! I spent 3 very happy years in Kentucky when I was much younger, and a dear friend there gave me a wonderful bourbon ball recipe that called for Maker's Mark. I lost the recipe many years ago, and my friend as well. So thanks for giving me back a piece of the past, as well as a great story & a delicious holiday treat! And, btw, you're never too old to give some sugar...or get some!
 
Katileigh December 4, 2016
Joanie, I searched for the Penzeys Vanilla wafer recipe but it's no longer posted on their site. Can you share?
 
Jennifer A. December 5, 2018
https://www.penzeys.com/shop/recipes/orange-blossoms/
 
Joanie December 4, 2016
Oh, and my recipe using sifted confectioners sugar instead of regular sugar.
 
Joanie December 4, 2016
I've been making a version of these from a handwritten index card given to me by family friend when I went off to college back in the 70's. My recipe is the same as listed here except for 1/2 cup of bourbon and 1 Tbls. of corn syrup. The past few years, I've started making my own vanilla wafers to use instead of store bought, using a recipe from a Penzeys spice catalog. Makes exactly enough to sample one wafer and make the rest into 2 1/2 cups of crumbs. Way better than store bought wafers. Enjoy!
 
Kristine December 4, 2016
I loved your story, looking forward to making these for my family. <br />Happy Holidays!
 
Mary F. December 4, 2016
Ahhhh, I fondly remember discovering bourbon balls in adolescence as well. What would you think about lightly toasting the pecans? Would that detract from the authenticity, or maybe add richness? Getting ready to make these, and almost hoping that I need to use extra bourbon to get it to hold together, just like DessertByCandy!
 
DessertByCandy December 3, 2016
I needed almost double the amount of bourbon for the crumbs to come together. Not complaining though. Thank you for a wonderful read and delicious recipe.
 
Darilyn S. December 3, 2016
What a great 50s recipe
 
Lauren B. December 2, 2016
Hey, look:<br /><br />Vanilla Wafers<br />foodnetwork.com<br /> <br />I made this<br /><br />ADD IMAGE <br />Add tag<br /> <br /><br />Servings: Yield: approximately 70 cookies<br />Ingredients<br />7 ounces all-purpose flour<br />3/4 teaspoon aluminum free baking powder<br />1/2 teaspoon kosher salt<br />4 ounces unsalted butter, room temperature<br />3 1/2 ounces vanilla sugar<br />1 large egg<br />4 teaspoons vanilla extract<br />1 tablespoon whole milk<br />Steps<br />Position 1 oven rack in the top third of the oven and another in the bottom third. Heat the oven to 350 degrees F.<br />Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl and set aside. Cream the butter and vanilla sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer on medium speed for 2 minutes, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl after 1 minute. Add the egg and incorporate on medium speed for 30 seconds. Scrape down the sides of the mixer bowl. Add the vanilla extract and milk and blend on low speed for 15 seconds. Add the flour mixture and mix on low speed just to incorporate. Chill the batter in the refrigerator for at least 10 minutes before scooping.<br />Scoop the batter in teaspoon-sized balls and arrange them on 2 parchment paper-lined half sheet pans, approximately 35 cookies per pan. Use the heel of your hand to slightly flatten each ball. Bake, 2 pans at a time, rotating the pans halfway through the baking, until golden brown, about 15 to 20 minutes. Remove the pans to a cooling rack to cool completely before removing the cookies from the pan.<br /> <br />Vanilla Wafers<br />foodnetwork.com<br /> <br />I made this<br /><br />ADD IMAGE <br />Add tag<br /> <br /><br />Servings: Yield: approximately 70 cookies<br />Ingredients<br />7 ounces all-purpose flour<br />3/4 teaspoon aluminum free baking powder<br />1/2 teaspoon kosher salt<br />4 ounces unsalted butter, room temperature<br />3 1/2 ounces vanilla sugar<br />1 large egg<br />4 teaspoons vanilla extract<br />1 tablespoon whole milk<br />Steps<br />Position 1 oven rack in the top third of the oven and another in the bottom third. Heat the oven to 350 degrees F.<br />Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl and set aside. Cream the butter and vanilla sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer on medium speed for 2 minutes, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl after 1 minute. Add the egg and incorporate on medium speed for 30 seconds. Scrape down the sides of the mixer bowl. Add the vanilla extract and milk and blend on low speed for 15 seconds. Add the flour mixture and mix on low speed just to incorporate. Chill the batter in the refrigerator for at least 10 minutes before scooping.<br />Scoop the batter in teaspoon-sized balls and arrange them on 2 parchment paper-lined half sheet pans, approximately 35 cookies per pan. Use the heel of your hand to slightly flatten each ball. Bake, 2 pans at a time, rotating the pans halfway through the baking, until golden brown, about 15 to 20 minutes. Remove the pans to a cooling rack to cool completely before removing the cookies from the pan.<br /> <br />Jack63 why do you say no Nilla Wafers? Oh yes, is the 8 oz by volume or weight? 😋<br />
 
jack63 December 2, 2016
NO nilla wafers
 
Lauren B. December 2, 2016
This recipe looks very inviting. The story was lovely. WHy was Aunt Jane crying? What sort of recipe would I want to use if I didn't want to buy the Nilla Wafers?
 
Jackie December 2, 2016
Enjoyed the story very warm and cozy. I'm from San Francisco and know South San Francisco which made the story even more <br /> personal