Bourbon Ball Tart


Two desserts in one makes for a show-stopping dessert.

Active Time:
45 mins
Total Time:
3 hrs 30 mins

Say hello to your wow-worthy dessert this holiday season. Tarts always win in our book for their delicate, strikingly beautiful finish, and this tart's unique design has us swooning. In this Bourbon Ball Tart, homemade Bourbon Balls nestle into a pool of shiny chocolate ganache filling to make a dessert that's just as much fun to look at as it is to eat.

The Bourbon Balls are deliciously sweet and crunchy, rounded out with just the right amount of bourbon. The bittersweet chocolate in the tart balances out the sweetness of the Bourbon Balls, and the buttery crust delivers a crunch factor, akin to a chocolate shortbread cookie.

Bourbon Ball Tart

Antonis Achilleos; Food Styling: Emily Nabors Hall; Prop styling: Lydia Pursell

The Bourbon Balls are remarkably easy to whip up: Just combine the ingredients in a bowl, let chill, and coat in your desired toppings (our picks are powdered sugar, pecans, and cocoa powder, but feel free to get creative). The Bourbon Balls also make a nice dessert on their own. Then it's time to move on to the filling, and this might be the simplest ganache we've met yet: Just heat up your cream in the microwave, then let it sit with the chopped chocolate, bourbon, and vanilla. Just like that, your filling is ready. Be sure to remove the baked crust from its pan before filling it. Once the crust is filled, it is harder to take out of the pan.

This Bourbon Ball Tart is well-suited for any special occasion, from the winter holidays to the Kentucky Derby. Or just any old Tuesday night. We don't need an excuse to enjoy some chocolate and bourbon.


Bourbon Balls

  • 1 ½ cups crushed vanilla wafers (such as Nilla Wafers, from 1 [11-oz.] pkg. wafers)

  • ½ cup butter, softened to room temperature

  • ¼ cup (2 oz.) bourbon

  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 2 ¼ cups unsifted powdered sugar, divided 

  • 1 cup toasted chopped pecans, divided

  • ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder


  • ½ cup butter, softened to room temperature

  • cup granulated sugar

  • 1 large egg yolk

  • 1 cup plus 2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour

  • ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa

  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt

Ganache Filling

  • 1 ¼ cups heavy whipping cream

  • 3 (4-oz.) 60% bittersweet chocolate bars, chopped

  • 1 tablespoon (½ oz.) bourbon

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


  1. Prepare the Bourbon Balls: Stir together crushed wafers, butter, bourbon, vanilla, 2 cups of the powdered sugar, and ½ cup of the pecans in a large bowl using a rubber spatula until evenly combined. Cover; chill until firm, about 30 minutes.

  2. Meanwhile, prepare the Crust: Preheat oven to 350°F. Beat butter and granulated sugar with a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment on medium speed until smooth, about 2 minutes. Add egg yolk, flour, cocoa, and salt; beat until fully combined, about 1 minute. Transfer dough to a 9-inch tart pan lightly coated with cooking spray; press mixture evenly into bottom and up sides of pan. Freeze until firm, about 10 minutes. Place tart pan on a baking sheet. Bake until dry to the touch, 12 to 14 minutes. Transfer tart pan to a wire rack; cool completely, about 30 minutes. Remove Crust from tart pan, and place on a cake stand or a serving platter.

  3. Prepare the Ganache Filling: Microwave cream in a medium-size microwavable bowl on HIGH until just bubbling, 90 seconds to 2 minutes. Add chopped chocolate, bourbon, and vanilla (do not stir); let stand, undisturbed, 5 minutes. Whisk mixture until smooth. Pour Ganache Filling into cooled Crust.

  4. Finish the Bourbon Balls: Place remaining 1/4 cup powdered sugar in a small bowl. Place remaining ½ cup pecans in a second small bowl. Place cocoa in a third small bowl. Remove Bourbon Ball mixture from refrigerator, and shape into about 30 (1-inch) balls. Roll 10 Bourbon Balls in powdered sugar. Roll another 10 in chopped pecans. Roll remaining 10 in cocoa powder.

  5. Arrange desired number of Bourbon Balls in Ganache Filling on tart (store remaining balls in an airtight container in refrigerator). Chill tart until Ganache Filling is completely firm, about 2 hours. Serve cold.

Related Articles