All September on VinePair, we’re turning our focus to America’s spirit: bourbon. For our third annual Bourbon Month, we’re exploring the industry legends and innovators, our favorite craft distilleries, new bottles we love, and more.
Bourbon and chocolate make for a timeless combination. The caramel and vanilla aromas of bourbon stand up to chocolate’s rich decadence, while the spirit’s spicier notes complement that classic chocolate sweetness.
As cooler weather approaches, our cravings for the sweet and comforting quickly follow. To satiate that hunger, look no further than the big, boozy flavors of Kentucky bourbon balls. Unlike most treats made with spirits, bourbon balls require no baking. While this makes for a breezy assembly, it also means this dessert is for adults only, as the bourbon inside it will not be baked out.
While this recipe leans heavily on bourbon and chocolate, pecans are actually the star player. Ideal for the novice baker, these truffle-like bites require just six ingredients and can be made in an afternoon, with no oven preheating or major cleanup required.
To make them, first soak chopped pecans and bourbon for at least an hour. Add the combination to a mixture of butter and powdered sugar. Form the dough into spheres, and store in the fridge until firm (this will be your filling). Then, dip the balls into a melted chocolate and shortening mixture, and top with a pecan half for presentation.
The result is a sweet tooth-satisfying confection ideal for serving at the end of a dinner party in lieu of (or along with) an after-dinner drink.
- 1 cup pecans, finely chopped
- 5 tablespoons bourbon
- 1/2 cup butter, softened
- 4 cups powdered sugar
- 3 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 3 tablespoons shortening
- Roughly 30 pecan halves
- Combine the chopped pecans and bourbon in a small bowl. Cover and let sit at room temperature for at least 1 hour.
- Beat butter with an electric mixer and gradually add powdered sugar. Once the mixture has completely come together, add pecan-bourbon mixture and mix. If the mixture is too soft, add a little more sugar.
- Use a small ice cream scoop or a teaspoon measuring spoon to form balls that are slightly larger than 1 inch. Place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or wax paper and refrigerate until firm (about 1 hour).
- Melt chocolate chips and shortening in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly.
- Once smooth, dip the balls into the chocolate mixture using a toothpick.
- Place back on the baking sheet and top with a pecan to cover the hole from the toothpick.
- Return bourbon balls to the refrigerator to set the chocolate.