Monday, December 10, 2012

Bourbon Balls

There's something about the Christmas season that makes folks lean back into traditions. 

At least, that's the way it is in our house. I have extremely clear memories of exactly what happened when it was Christmas time. And, by golly, that's the way it's going to be this year.

Pay no attention to the fact that our apartment's living room is the size of a postage stamp. Or that I have about 4 feet of counter space in my kitchen (counting the stove top). Or that I don't have a "bonus fridge" to hold all the holiday goodies out in my non-existent garage. Or that I am technically closer to 30 years old than to 10.

For some reason, it's just not Christmas without my ornaments on our tiny tree, stockings hung above the fireplace, a wreath on the door - and a massive amount of candy in the fridge. Boxed up and ready to give to our nearest and dearest. 

I know my mom wouldn't disown me if I didn't hand out thousands of pounds of sweet treats to friends and co-workers. I do. Really. However - that's not gonna slow me down. 

Commence Candy Operation 2012!

First up - Bourbon Balls. The signature Miller family candy. From my mom's great grandmother. Who lived in Kentucky. So you know she knew what she was doing.

Lest you think I'm betraying the family secrets here, I promise I'm not. Mom hands this recipe out freely - knowing that it's time consuming enough that very few will choose to make them. But perseverance brings deliciousness!

Start with nuts - pecans and cashews. Chop them up nicely in a food processor. 

Combine them in a really big bowl with 2 sticks of butter. 

Add in 2 lbs of powdered sugar. 

Then 6 tbsp of bourbon.

Remove all jewelery from your hands and wrists and get in there. Mix it all together with your hands. This is an incredibly important step. 

Roll the dough into little balls, about the size of a small walnut. Place on a cookie sheet lined in wax paper.

Refrigerate for 4 hours, or over night. Until firm. 

In a double boiler, melt chocolate and grated parafin wax.

Yes - wax. It comes in bar form. Grate it on your cheese grater. The wax help keep the chocolate hard.

Using thin metal sticks (we use the ones that come in the turkey lacing kit, which really should be called Bourbon Ball Dippers in my opinion), pierce the ball and dip into the chocolate.

Tap off the excess (you don't want a large chocolate puddle around the ball). 

Place back on the waxed paper. 

Use a spoon full of chocolate to top off the balls and cover the spot you poked them with the metal stick.

Chill until firm - over night. 

Store in a large tin until ready to distribute!

Bourbon Balls
Makes around 100 - 130

1 c. chopped cashew
1 c. chopped pecans
2 stick butter, softened
2 lbs powdered suger
6 tbsp Kentucky Bourbon (mom uses Jim Beam. I used Bulleit this year - hopefully I don't get disowned)
24 oz Nestle semi-sweet chocolate chips (we've tried other brands, this is best)
6 tbsp parafin wax, grated

In a very large bowl, combine the nuts, butter, powdered sugar, and bourbon. Mix well with your hands, until fully incorporated. 

Roll into balls the size of small walnuts. Place on a wax paper lined cookie sheet. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours, until firm. 

In a double boiler, melt the chocolate and wax. Dip the balls into the chocolate, tapping to remove the excess. Place back on the wax paper. Use a spoon to dot the tops of the covered balls with extra chocolate, capping them.

Refrigerate until hard, over night.

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