What’s Christmas without balls?

Bourbon balls — pure joy in an oblate spheroid… 

Joyeux, joyeux to all! And let’s have a Balle! Dark chocolate, pecans, bourbon… mmm.


Every year I make about two hundred of these delectable, moderately addictive orbs of chocolate nirvana, Les Balles de Bourbon Supréme, and carefully mete them out to family members and far-flung friends whose lives, they tell me every year, wouldn’t be the same without them. Pete Schweddy, eat your heart out, because these are serious balls to savor in your mouth as you would the finest chocolate truffle.

The ingredients are very simple, but it does take some time because you are, after all, making lots of little (about 1″) balls and stacking them neatly in plastic containers, so there is a bit of a “mind-numbing” factor built in. Listen to some music or watch television when you’re rolling them – it’s more fun than counting “83… 84…”

Les balles de bourbon supréme (bourbon balls)

Here we go: the main ingredients are good dark chocolate, crushed pecans, bourbon, and cookie dust. From an original recipe I found, I cut back the sugar by about a third, and boosted the bourbon to amp up the fun quotient!

For about 90 1″ balls, you’ll need:
  • about 90 vanilla wafers (about 1 1/4 box), pummeled
  • 12 ozs. semi-sweet dark chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 4 1/2 tbsp. light corn syrup
  • 6 ozs. bourbon (overproof is best! Go big!)
  • 1 1/2 cups pecans, crushed
  • powdered sugar to roll the balls in

Ruthlessly demolish the cookies and nuts…

This is not a recipe for pacifists! Grind, pummel, smoosh the vanilla wafers into dust – or very small crumbs. I put half of them in a gallon ziploc bag and roll and pound them with a rolling pin, then repeat for the remaining half. Do the same for the pecans – pound and grind them mercilessly in a ziploc bag until the nutmeat pieces are no larger than a caper. Combine the nuts and crumbs in a large mixing bowl.

Now melt the chocolate in a double boiler, over (not in) hot water. When silky smooth, remove the pot from the hot water and stir in the sugar and the corn syrup till well-blended. Now slowly add the bourbon, stirring as you do, and blend it smooth – it takes awhile to get it right. Pour the chocolate mixture into the crumbs and nuts and stir with a wooden spoon until well-mixed (yes, this is a real workout!). Now take a break and let the mixture cool down for a half hour or so – it’ll be much easier to make balls when it dries out a little.

Put about 2 cups of powdered sugar in a bowl or platter, and start rolling the balls in your well-washed hands, roll in the sugar, and put in a large plastic container. You can separate layers with tinfoil. When finished, seal up the container and put in the fridge for at least 3 days – they get better (like many of us) as they age!

DSC_9907This is my macro +2 lens at work. Man, I’m hungry!

Because there’s virtually nothing in them to go bad, they keep a good long while in the fridge, and can be frozen, too. And they’ll even keep at room temp for several days.

Our packaging…

Every year we send these in plastic containers with the label, below, to various far flung places. The couple’s names change every year, but not the goodness inside!


Variations? Um… okay.

When we lived in the south for some ten years, outside Atlanta, we appreciated the region’s special affinity for good sour mash bourbon, or the rare single-barrel sample you might be treated to, so I’m committed to the bourbon part of the recipe – and the pecans as well, which grow all over south Georgia. But you can make these with (*sigh*) rum if you want, or brandy, or whatever your favorite spirits may be. You can also do them “virgin,” I suppose, but you’ll need to add some kind of liquid – maybe orange juice – to get the mix to the right consistency. Yep, orange juice would be fine, actually.

So have fun, and merry merry!

There you have it.



I’m very glad that all five of my novels are now in the Rockland Public Library’s collection, donated in memory of our friend John Schetky, who died this past summer. John was an avid fiction reader and the library was a favorite hangout.

Please visit my website here —


Ned White

About Ned White

Ned White is a writer, novelist, crossword puzzle constructor, traveler through 49 states, and at times a danger in the kitchen. He lives with his wife in South Thomaston.