Why Southerners Love Bourbon Balls
It’s a cocktail in dessert form, what’s not to like?
Is it possible to resist a bourbon ball? Unless you’re a teetotaler, I think not. Whether they are rolled in powdered sugar, dipped in chocolate, or coated in chopped pecans, these boozy little confections go down a little too easy. On Christmas cookie platters and at Derby Day parties, bourbon balls are a coveted Southern treat, and usually the first to disappear.
Unlike other Southern-style desserts (I’m looking at you, Coconut Chiffon Cake), bourbon balls are ridiculously easy to make. I’d say a five-year-old could do it, but there is the issue of the bourbon. I’m sure you know the formula: combine crushed vanilla wafers and finely chopped pecans with a lot of powdered sugar and a little cocoa powder. Moisten the dry mixture with corn syrup and a generous amount of bourbon and stir it into a sticky paste. Roll the paste into small balls, then roll them in additional powdered sugar, chopped pecans, or cocoa powder. Or you can chill the bourbon balls and dip them in melted dark chocolate. However you decide to coat your bourbon balls, you’ll end up with dozens and dozens of them—perfect for gift-giving, Derby Day parties, or decking out Christmas cookie tins.
In addition to being no-bake, bourbon balls are one of those wonderful desserts you can experiment with and add your own creative touch. I’ve added a teaspoon of ground cinnamon, extra chocolate, and even switched out the bourbon for rum—which makes a delicious, entirely different sort of treat.
For a fancy get-together, I added a bit of orange zest to the batter, dipped the balls in melted dark chocolate, and adorned each one with a little slice of homemade candied orange peel. It was about as labor-intensive as making a four-layer cake, which is not the point of making bourbon balls, but oh, were they delicious.