Once again, our famous bourbon balls

Bourbon balls — pure joy in an oblate spheroid… with some commentary by Christopher Walken


Coincidences happen, but who would’ve guessed Christopher Walken also makes these delectable holiday treats and sends them to friends and family? When I learned this, I was determined to interview him about his thoughts on making them, but alas, the conversation (which took forever to arrange) became ever more free-associative and unfocused, so the best I could do was grab a line or two from him, which I’ve added here in bold.

CW: I don’t like that picture. Too angry. Not good to look angry. It’s me, but it’s got the wrong…tone.

Well, okay. So my friends tell me every year, Christmas wouldn’t be the same without these balls. Pete Schweddy, get off my double-entendre lawn, because these are serious balls to savor in your mouth as you would the finest chocolate truffle.

CW: I like that “doobla antandre.” It sounds a lot like —  French. It makes me laugh.

This is a no-bake recipe, and 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…”

CW: I’ve never been against counting. As such. Counting – it helps pass the time.

Les balles de bourbon supréme (bourbon balls)

Here we go: the main ingredients are good dark chocolate, crushed pecans, bourbon or sour mash whiskey, 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!

CW: This no diet recipe. It won’t make a Fat Boy Slim. (giggle) If you get a buzz from these, you’ve had too much. Be smart. Just don’t do it.

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 (dark is best)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 4 1/2 tbsp. light corn syrup
  • 6 ozs. bourbon or whiskey (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 very large mixing bowl.

CW: Lot of violence here. Is that wise? What I think – I think you have a problem with your… tone. And I do capers in movies, but I don’t eat them, you follow?

Okay. 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 fully infused. 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.

CW: About the bourbon. I use 100 proof. People worked hard to make it. Making it – it’s not easy. So don’t slosh it in. Let it pour in gently. Treat it with respect.

Yes. Now 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!

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.

CW: It needs — to cure. To infuse. When they’re ready, eat them with passion, with lust.

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 whiskey or Kentucky bourbon, or the rare single-barrel sample you might be treated to, so I’m committed to the whiskey/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.

CW: You’re wimping out on me. Don’t sissify it. Treat these balls with the respect they deserve.


Thanks, CW. That’s it for awhile. See you after Christmas.

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.