Every Kentucky host has his or her own take on the state's traditional bourbon ball. Some are enrobed in chocolate; others pop a halved nut on top. We opt for a no-frills presentation that doubles down on boozy flavor by soaking the nuts in bourbon, in addition to the generous helping that goes into the dough itself. Note: The balls are chilled rather than cooked and do pack a tipsy punch, so you may wish to warn younger or teetotalling guests of their contents.
To learn more, read "Derby Dancing."
Recipe adapted from Kat Kinsman, Editor in Chief
Yield: 30 balls
Prep Time: 25 minutes, plus chilling time
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes, plus chilling time
1 cup pecans
¾ cup bourbon, divided
2 cups Nilla Wafers crumbs
½ cup Dutch-process cocoa powder, divided
½ cup confectioners' sugar, divided
¼ cup light corn syrup
1. In a small bowl, combine the pecans and ¼ cup of the bourbon. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit until the pecans have absorbed some of the bourbon, 2 to 3 hours. Drain and reserve the bourbon.
2. Heat the oven to 325°. Spread the pecans onto a baking sheet and bake until lightly toasted, 12 to 15 minutes. Let the nuts cool, then finely chop and set aside.
3. In a large mixing bowl, combine the chopped pecans, remaining bourbon, Nilla Wafers crumbs, ¼ cup cocoa powder, ¼ cup confectioners' sugar and the corn syrup. Stir until smooth.
4. Using a heaping tablespoon portion, roll dough into ¾-inch balls.
5. In a separate bowl, combine the remaining cocoa powder and confectioners' sugar and coat each ball in the cocoa sugar. Transfer the bourbon balls to a parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet. Cover and chill for at least 2 hours or until firm.