Every family has their tradition, their symbol that the holidays are here. Growing up we had a few. My mom had to watch “It’s a Wonderful Life” after an afternoon of holiday baking. My dad had to watch “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” typically over a bowl of chili. For my brother, it was “A Christmas Story” either after Christmas Eve dinner or Christmas Brunch . For me, it is not time for the holiday’s until there has been some holiday baking. There are 6 recipes that have to be made each year, cashew brittle, double-decker fudge, chocolate truffles, snickerdoodles, english toffee and of course bourbon balls.
Bourbon balls are something that my mom and I have been making since I was little. This candy has been passed down for generations and symbolizes many fond memories. It truly isn’t about the candy, it is what the candy represents, my great-grandmother Alice Kerr. I never met her but the legends of her live on. My mom speaks only with the deepest admiration of her grandmother, in fact she named her only girl after her.
Alice Kerr had twelve kids and therefore tons of grandkids. She was rumored to be feisty, tough as nails, and a family woman through and through. Naturally family gatherings were at her house. My mom told me about one memory of visiting her grandmother with all of her cousins. They were greeted at the front door with a basket of bourbon balls. These little balls are like eating a sugar cube dipped in chocolate…they will give you a sugar rush in 30 sec flat. All the grandkids eyes would light up as they grabbed handfuls of these sugary delights. They were then sent out in to the yard to run around and be kids. After a little time, they would be called to the dinner table. With their rush wearing off and worn out by running around, the grandkids were quiet at the dinner table allowing the adults to enjoy. What a brilliant woman.
Every year I make these and I think of the woman I was named after. The woman who raised my grandmother (someone who had a profound impact on my love for food). The woman who my mom (someone who means the absolute world to me) admired greatly. The woman whose strength is legendary. I think of her and I channel my inner Alice Kerr and pay homage to the amazing women in my life. Because for me Christmas is about family, it is about all of those who support you and who you love with all your heart. Happy Holidays.
1 c Butter, at room temperature
2 lbs Powdered Sugar
8 T Cream
Bourbon (to taste, you only need a small amount)
8 oz Bitter Chocolate
4 T Butter
Pecan halves, optional
Cream butter and sugar for about 5 minutes until fluffy. Alternate between slowly adding cream and bourbon with adding the powdered sugar.
Once fully incorporated, form into cherry size balls and press pecan into each ball. Place on a parchment covered baking sheet. Refrigerate for 1 hour or even over night.
Melt chocolate and butter in a double boiler. Dip the cold balls in the chocolate coating all sides. The balls will start to melt in the warm chocolate so you need to move fast or pause to return the balls to the refrigerator. When dipped place back on the parchment covered baking sheet.
Chill, serve, and enjoy the sugar rush!