Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Janet Appel's Bourbon Balls

Pecans Soaking in Bourbon
Continuing Guest Chocolate Holiday Blogs, I asked Janet Appel, the Queen of Southern Cooking, if I could repost one of her favorite recipes for Bourbon Balls. Although I've posted this recipe before, this is the first time Janet has given the 'backstory' to these Boozy Balls with several helpful hints and modifications.

Janet Appel: Bourbon Balls

Bourbon Balls are a Southern taste treat. Chocolate and Bourbon, what’s not to love? In Kentucky you always serve them during Kentucky Derby parties and during the Christmas holidays. The Bourbon is not cooked out, so you have to warn children and alcoholics these are not for just anyone.

My mother in law made wonderful Bourbon Balls and shared the recipe with my husband, Marty. He makes them every year. But last year he was challenged as the maker of the best Bourbon Balls.
My nephew, Tres, and his wife, Casey, have a different recipe, that is mighty tasty. Last Christmas Eve we had a taste test. Marty lost. But we knew the contest was rigged. The judges were Tres’ parents. How fair is that?

This year we will have another taste test. Tres’ mother mailed all of us chocolate to make Bourbon Balls. She said for another contest. I said for her to have a large supply of Bourbon Balls for the holidays.

I am going to share the recipe from the Appel side of the family. The Tripletts have not shared their secret recipe.


1 ½ pounds pecans
8 oz of Maker’s Mark Bourbon
2 oz water
2 pounds confectioners’ sugar
3 pounds semisweet chocolate
3 oz paraffin

Break and combine pecans with bourbon, cover and set aside for 4 hours or more. Sift confectioners’ sugar and add pecans, adding sugar gradually to a working consistency until a small ball can be made ½ to ¾ inch in diameter. Water is to be used only to bring mixture to desired consistency. Add water only to prevent ball from falling apart. Mixture should be semi-dry. Prepare balls and place on a waxed papered cookie sheet. Place in freezer to cool. (Approx. 2 hours)

Melt chocolate and paraffin and mix well. Chocolate should not be too hot, just warm enough to work up. The warmer the mix, the thinner coating the bourbon balls will have.

Remove formed balls from the freezer when ready to coat with chocolate. With fingers dip each ball to cover half of ball and return to cookie sheet. After this step return to refrigerator to harden chocolate. (Approx. 1 hour)

To coat top half of ball when ready insert toothpick in the bottom that has already been coated and dip top in chocolate. Remove toothpick and return ball to cookie sheet. Refrigerate again to harden chocolate.

Store bourbon balls in refrigerator.

Notes: This recipe from Marty's mother is at least 70 years old. She loved to make chocolate candies. Fingers were used for a lot of mixing, holding, stirring. Today there are fine chocolate tools to dip with, and electric pots to melt the chocolate. Paraffin is needed no matter how good your chocolate.

The recipe tells you to break pecans and then soak in Bourbon. We fill the container half way up with pecans and then cover them with Bourbon. Use good Bourbon, if you won’t drink it, don’t cook with it. We were out of Maker’s Mark and used Woodford Reserve, a mighty fine Bourbon.

The pecans have been soaking for 48 hours. You can see the line of the Bourbon. About half has soaked in. I stir the pecans regularly to make sure they all are full of the Bourbon. We will make the filling and dip them this weekend. I know the recipe says soak 4 hours. We like to really let the Bourbon soak in. That is why small children should not eat these candies.

To be Continued Next Week with Photos of the Bourbon Balls!

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