Thursday, November 10, 2011

Bourbon Balls and Cookbook Review

When I was a child, Bourbon Balls were the Adults Only dessert craze. We children were not allowed to eat them.  My mom would make them just after Thanksgiving and let them age until Christmas. When I did finally taste one, the alcohol flavor was so strong that I spit out my first bite and haven't given them much thought since. When I received the Little Old Lady Recipes-Comfort Food and Kitchen Table Wisdom cookbook to review, I found the recipe for bourbon balls, so I thought this was my opportunity to give them another chance.

The recipe is slightly different that my mom's. It uses honey instead of Karo syrup for the sweetener and I think this is a delicious change. Also, I didn't add the full 1/4 cup of bourbon. I just used enough to make a moist dough and used bourbon that had had a vanilla bean soaking in it. Our balls turned out to be a little drier than the ones Mr. Mimi remembered, but he still liked the flavor and ate several for the sake of an accurate review.  If you like a softer cookie, use the entire amount of bourbon.

Little Old Lady Recipes, written by Meg Faverau and published by Quirk Books (, available at, is full of comfort food recipes, along with photos and kitchen wisdom of the ladies who contributed recipes to the book. There are plenty of comfort food recipes, including Irish soda bread, chicken and dumplings, meat loaf, fried chicken and rhubarb pie. The recipes are written just as if your grandmother scribbled it on a recipe card, direct and to the point, often assuming that you have some kitchen knowledge (or have watched her make the recipe hundreds of times). Sprinkled in among the recipes are tips from the cooks, ladies with lots of life experience and even more advice. One of our favorites was "There isn't much a good cake won't fix". You can't go wrong with a motto like that! 

Bourbon Balls
1 cup toasted chopped pecans
1 1/2 cup crushed vanilla wafer cookies
3/4 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
2 tablespoon honey
1/4 cup Bourbon
additional powdered sugar for rolling.

1. Combine the first four ingredients in a bowl and then add honey and bourbon; stir. Form into balls with your hands and roll in powdered sugar. Refrigerate before serving. Makes approximately 48 balls. (I got closer to 36 balls)

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