Homemade treats are one of the best parts of Christmas. My friend Laura’s mother held annual cookie baking and swapping parties. Work becomes a dietary hazard between potlucks and spontaneous acts of baking. Here in NY, I’ve continued the tradition of giving friends and family homemade treats during the holiday season. Two years ago, I made a variation of Ina Garten’s white chocolate bark with pistachios and cranberries. Last year, I made a toffee brickle bark. This year, I decided to make something reminiscent of home—bourbon laced goodies.
Several years ago, my mom gave me The WASP Cookbook, a satirical collection of recipes by the comedian Alexandra Wentworth, aka Mrs. George Stephanopoulus. The recipe for Binky’s Bourbon Nips for Derby Day is very familiar to the chocolate bourbon or rum balls (uncooked whiskey or rum cookies) from Out of Kentucky Kitchens, vintage a cookbook by “one of Louisville’s most gracious hostesses and best cooks” originally published in 1949 and given to me last Christmas by my husband. While Wentworth calls for vanilla wafers, Kentucky Kitchens says this recipe is “a wonderful way to utilize leftover and slightly dried-out pound, white, cup or gold cake”.
I used Wentworth’s recipe, but added more bourbon than the recipe called for. What I love about this recipe is it freezes well (ie. great for mailing to friends and family across the country), and by adding additional powdered sugar at the end, the treats look like snowballs (which looks great to any winter party tablescape). Both recipes listed below.
Binky’s Bourbon Nips
3 cups vanilla wafers
1 ¼ cups pecans
1 ¼ cups confectioners’ sugar
¾ tablespoon cocoa powder
3 tablespoons light corn syrup
6 tablespoons light bourbon
Grind the wafers and pecans in a food processor. Blend in 1 cup of the sugar and the remaining ingredients. Roll into balls about 1 inch in diameter and then roll in remaining confectioners’ sugar. Place in a container for at least 24 hours before serving.
Chocolate Bourbon or Rum Balls
1 cup ground nuts (pecans, almonds or walnuts)
2 tablespoons cocoa
2 tablespoons white corn syrup
¼ cup good bourbon whiskey, or Jamaica rum or a combination of both
powdered sugar, or a mixture composed of 1 teaspoon cocoa and ½ teaspoon cinnamon to every rounded tablespoon sifted powdered sugar
Mix cake crumbs with ground nuts, then add cocoa, white corn syrup and whiskey. Knead well. Take a teaspoonful of the dough at a time and mold into balls. Roll in plain powdered sugar or the mixture of cocoa, cinnamon and sifted powdered sugar. Place balls on a tin cookie sheet for 2 to 3 hours to dry. Roll once more in plain powdered sugar or the cocoa-cinnamon-sugar mixture.