This summer we had another in a long line of great interns. But one of the things that set Mandy Simpson apart was that she plied us with treats while she was here. (Note to all future interns: baking is a bonus skill.) She made us strawberry pie, and some going-away goodies called bourbon balls.
They were an instant hit, and I knew this summer that I’d be making them for Christmas. I mean, how can you go wrong combining holidays and chocolate-y, little, boozy balls?
The recipe came by way of Mandy’s mom in the form of a copied newspaper clipping from a Judy Cunningham of Roanoke, Virginia. So thank you all to Mandy, her mom and Mrs. Cunningham, wherever you are now.
I made them and some adaptations for a recent cookie exchange and will be giving some soon as Christmas gifts.
Here it is:
1 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup bourbon (or more)
1, 1-pound package of powdered sugar
1/2 cup butter or margarine, melted
1, 8-oz package unsweetened chocolate
1 tabelspoon shortening
Soak walnuts in bourbon at least 3 hours. Combine walnuts, sugar and butter. Shape into 3/4-inch balls; chill at least 30 minutes.
Combine chocolate and shortening in the top of a double boiler; heat until melted and smooth, stirring occasionally. Using a wooden pick, dip each bourbon ball into chocolate. Place on a waxed-paper-lined baking sheet. Chill until firm. Store in refrigerator. Yield: About 4 dozen.
I made some variations, including adding a touch more bourbon. I also let the nuts soak overnight so I had a full day to make about six batches of boozy balls of varying sorts.
With such an easy recipe, I felt pretty confident about messing around with it. In a couple batches, I replaced the walnuts with hazelnuts and soaked them in Frangelico. I really needed to add more Frangelico to the mix to taste it (about 3/4 of a cup for a double batch).
The best variation, though came by replacing the nuts with pecans and soaking those in plenty of rum. And I mean plenty. (Note: I may have taste-tested more of the rum than I should have before making the batter and “plenty” really ended up “more than plenty.” You could almost set those balls on fire.) But the best addition a half a little tub of our locally made Harvey’s Butter Rum Batter.
And just in case you were wondering about the packaging: I bought the plastic container and the little felt stockings at the Japanese version of a dollars store, Daiso, in Westlake Mall. Technically, they’re bento boxes and came three for $1.50. The ribbon I found in the sale bin in front of Michael’s. And I bought the little candy cups at the cooking store in Kitsap Mall.