This time of year brings to mind traveling to see family to share the holidays and the festive meals that come with the celebrations. One of my favorite treats to make during this season came out of a trip to Kentucky a few years back, and it has fast become a tradition in our holiday baking- Bourbon Balls.

The oldest rick house at Maker’s Mark

Driving through the rolling hills of Marion County, this picturesque landscape of peaceful farms contained by their stacked stone walls, interrupted by wooded thickets and the tracery of clear, cold running streams. Along these roads lie the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, where these historic, family run distilleries begin to dot the landscape, their presence first hinted at by the distinctive, tall rick houses that store the barrels.


The original still house along its spring-fed creek

While this recipe is an amalgam of some new- from the distilleries, and some old – from my grandmother, it has become a family favorite.


makes approximately four dozen

One box of vanilla wafers, crushed to a fine grain crumbs

Two cups of pecan halves

1/2 cup of heavy cream, plus two tablespoons

Four tablespoons of Karo syrup

Two tablespoons of honey

Nine to twelve ounces of shaved chocolate, half bittersweet, half dark chocolate

One teaspoon of vanilla

1/4 cup of sugar

Four tablespoons of your favorite bourbon, or add more to taste!!



Take the pecan halves and spread half of them on a baking tray and toast for ten minutes or until fragrant. Pulling them from the oven and getting that first whiff of the roasted pecans is the delicious reward for this first step.

Next, finely chop the roasted pecans, then take half and mix with the vanilla wafer crumbs. Set aside.

Now take a saucepan, mix the cream, syrup and honey, bringing to a boil. Pour this mix over the shaved chocolate in a separate bowl. Allow to sit briefly, and then stir until it is a deep, rich chocolate. Add this mixture to the cookie crumbs and pecans, along with the bourbon and mix throughly. Once complete, chill for at least one hour in refrigerator.

While this is chilling, mix the remaining portion of the pecans, the sugar and the vanilla in a bowl and set aside.

Roll teaspoon size scoops of the chocolate dough into small balls and then roll them through the pecan-sugar mix to cover each ball.

Final step – share with family and friends and enjoy!

Happy Holidays!