Make Ahead

Grandmother Fickes' Bourbon Balls

November 27, 2022
0 Ratings
Photo by beyondcelery
  • Prep time 30 minutes
  • Cook time 15 minutes
  • makes 30
Author Notes

I never met my great-grandmother Ane Elaine Green Fickes. I know her mainly through her recipe for bourbon balls. I've adjusted the recipe to be gluten-free and swapped maple syrup for the Karo light syrup (it's a deeper, more interesting flavor). The original recipe calls for vanilla wafer cookies. You can use any simple gluten-free cookie, such as graham crackers, vanilla wafers, or ginger snaps. I like to make them with homemade gluten-free vanilla wafers.

The point of this recipe is to add as much bourbon as possible while still allowing them to hold firmly together without melting. Vanilla wafers absorb the most moisture and can therefore be the booziest. But I've found this recipe to be delightfully flexible, so go play! —beyondcelery

What You'll Need
  • Vanilla Wafers (gluten-free)
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 cup vanilla sugar (or white sugar if you must)
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract (more as desired)
  • 1 egg
  • 105 grams millet flour
  • 105 grams sweet rice (mochi) flour
  • 40 grams tapioca starch
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • Grandmother Fickes' Bourbon Balls
  • 160 grams homemade vanilla wafers or other simple gluten-free cookie
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts (or pecans or almonds)
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar, more for rolling
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons bourbon (or other whiskey or rum)
  1. Vanilla Wafers (gluten-free)
  2. To make the vanilla wafers, preheat oven to 350F. Cream together butter and sugar. Beat in the vanilla and egg.
  3. Add dry ingredients and mix until the dough is stiff.
  4. Roll about 2 teaspoons of dough at a time into balls.
  5. Arrange balls on a parchment-lined cookie sheet about 2 inches apart. Bake 12-14 minutes, until edges are a light golden brown. Rest on cookie sheet at least 5 minutes before transferring to a rack to cool.
  1. Grandmother Fickes' Bourbon Balls
  2. To make the bourbon balls, finely chop nuts in a food processor. Chop them well enough that you don't have large pieces.
  3. Add vanilla wafers or other cookies and finely chop those with the nuts.
  4. Add powdered sugar and cocoa powder. Pulse a few times to mix.
  5. Add maple syrup and bourbon. Pulse until the mixture just comes together. You want the mixture to be damp enough to hold together, but not so wet it loses its shape. Add more powdered sugar if it's too wet. Add more bourbon if it's too dry and crumbles when you try to roll it into a ball.
  6. Sprinkle powdered sugar onto a tray or plate. Pinch a small amount of the mixture and roll it into a ball. Roll the ball in powdered sugar to coat. Serve at room temperature.
  7. Note: Roll in cocoa powder instead of powdered sugar if you want more chocolate flavor.

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