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Handmade holiday gifts #1

Boozy bourbon balls


Here’s a low-stress recipe to make as a hostess gift for last-minute party invitations or for those people who you weren’t expecting to speak to you, let alone give you presents, and for whom you now have to reciprocate. (I would double or triple this recipe, depending on your behavior over the past year.) These confections keep beautifully for weeks in the refrigerator in tightly sealed containers. Just pop a dozen or so in a festive cellophane bag and tie with a curly ribbon. For the love of all that’s holly, buy decent bourbon because, let’s face it, you are probably going to be swilling it straight from the bottle at some point this season. Cheers.


Bourbon Balls

Yield: 3 dozen
Prep time: 30 minutes
Total time: 1 hour, 30 minutes


1 box (approximately 11 ounces or 2 1/2 cups) of vanilla wafers, crushed

1 cup toasted pecans, ground

1 plus 1/4 cups powdered sugar, divided

4 tablespoons cocoa powder

Pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)

1/2 cup bourbon

3 tablespoons corn syrup

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Optional nonpareils, colored sugar, or cocoa powder for coating


Remove unopened bag of vanilla wafer cookies from box, and place on a firm surface. Using a largish hammer, smash the bag until you feel better/contents resemble a fine crumb. The bag will probably pop. Don’t panic. Have a sip of bourbon and finish grinding the wafers in a food processor. In a large bowl, combine smashed wafers, ground pecans, 1 cup of powdered sugar, cocoa powder, and a tiny (seriously, teeny) pinch of cayenne.


In a separate bowl, combine bourbon, corn syrup, and vanilla. Pour liquid ingredients over the wafer mixture and incorporate thoroughly until a sticky dough is formed. Chill dough, covered, in the refrigerator for one hour. Form into one-inch balls and roll in1/4 cup powdered sugar, or in nonpareils, colored sugar, and/or cocoa powder. Store in refrigerator in an airtight container.


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