When I was growing up, we spent every Christmas Eve with my Aunt Mary, Uncle Ned, and cousins Jennifer and Allyson. Ned is my mom's brother, and we all had some lively times together. There was always lots of laughter, and tons of delicious food. My Aunt Mary is famous for her Christmas Eve spread, complete with peanut butter, chocolate, and butterscotch (my favorite!) fudge; plus bourbon balls, rum balls, and every type of delicious Christmas treat you can imagine. Once the girls grew up, they started making their mom's goodies too, and did an amazing job.
Recently, I had occasion to take a stab at Aunt Mary's bourbon balls. There was an announcement at work that the staffs of Living the Country Life, Successful Farming, and Wood magazines would be having their annual Mardi Gras potluck. Since I work primarily from home, I hadn't ever made it in for this get-together before, but the stars aligned perfectly this year, and I had a meeting to come to on the day of the potluck. Yay!
I decided that since Bourbon Street is a famous New Orleans landmark, bourbon balls would be a natural fit! My mom tracked down my Aunt Mary's recipe, and I was surprised to find out that she didn't use bourbon at all, but Southern Comfort. Luckily, we had some lying around! I couldn't believe how easy these delicious treats were to make. I thought this occasion warranted the use of my Meredith tin, pictured above, which was part of a gift to employees on our company's 100th birthday celebration. It held 4 dozen balls perfectly (I doubled the recipe below). I was very happy with the way they turned out, and I have to say, they tasted a whole lot like Aunt Mary's! One difference, though, is that she rolls her bourbon balls in granulated sugar, and I went with powdered sugar. Either way, you can't go wrong!
If you want to keep your treats alcohol-free, substitute coffee or espresso for the Southern Comfort. I recently made these with coffee and they turned out great!
Rum Bourbon Southern Comfort Balls
This recipe makes 2 dozen 1" balls
6 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/3 cup Southern Comfort, bourbon, rum, or liqueur of your choice
3 Tbsp. light corn syrup
2 1/2 cups vanilla wafer crumbs
1 cup finely chopped pecans
1/2 cup sifted confectioner's (powdered) sugar
Granuated or powdered sugar for rolling
In a large bowl, mix together wafer crumbs, pecans, and 1/2 cup powdered sugar.
In a double-boiler over boiling water, combine chocolate chips, liquor, and corn syrup, stirring until melted and smooth.
Pour chocolate mixture over dry mixture and mix well. (Don't be afraid to use your hands to get the chocolate mixture distributed throughout all the dry mixture if necessary.) Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.
Using a mini ice cream scoop or spoon, scoop about a 1" diameter ball of the mixture. Use your hands to form it into a ball, and roll it in between your hands until smooth. Toss or roll in granulated or powdered sugar. Repeat until finished. This recipe makes around 2 dozen balls, and it can be made into a double batch.
Store finished balls in a covered container at room temperature. They taste even better after a few days, so they're perfect for parties or holidays because you can make them ahead of time! Aunt Mary says they freeze very well, too. Just skip the last step of rolling on powdered or granulated sugar, place balls on a baking sheet to freeze, then store in a freezer bag. A few days before you want to serve them, thaw, roll in sugar, and store, covered, at room temperature.
I think the Southern Comfort balls were a hit at the potluck. Everyone seemed to enjoy them and I got lots of compliments, anyway! The food was amazing ... we had remoulade, etouffe, jumbalaya, gumbo, muffaleta, king cake, and all the Mardi Gras fixings! My co-worker, Tracey Kelley, in the middle of the photo, was nice enough to organize the potluck, and it just so happened that Mardi Gras fell on her birthday this year!
Laissez les bon temps rouler!!