If you’ve never had a bourbon ball, it’s safe to say you’ve never spent the holidays in the South. And for that, I’m sorry. But but but, I’m here to remedy that. Bourbon balls are easy to make (no baking required) and are addictively delicious. They consist of crushed nilla wafers (the greatest store-bought cookie ever, although I do have a recipe here for a homemade vanilla wafer cookie), pecans, spices and bourbon. You can use whiskey, too. Maybe you’ve had a rum ball before? Same principle: mashed cookies reformed into boozy truffle-like bites.
I should say: these cookies are for adults. There is no denying their alcohol content and flavor. And, the alcohol aroma seems to get stronger as they sit. I used to have a boss (hi Jim!) who baked cookies for our workplace each December. He would bring in plates and plates filled with dozens of all types of holiday cookies. I always went for the rum balls because who can resist a little alcohol in the workplace setting? Something about a little hint of booze in a strict corporate workplace is my idea of a devious good time. It’s not enough booze to alter your mood, so it’s a safe indulgence, I promise.
Regular Christmastime bourbon balls contain cocoa powder and corn syrup as the binder. However, these Thanksgiving pumpkin spice bourbon balls use pumpkin and fall spices to pull it all together. Once you pop one, you can’t stop!
- 20 nilla wafers (plus extra for garnish)
- ½ cup finely diced pecans
- ½ cup powdered sugar
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
- pinch of nutmeg
- 2 tablespoons bourbon whiskey
- 1 tablespoon pumpkin puree
- In the bowl of a food processor (or a plastic zip-top bag), pulverize the nilla wafers. You should end up with about ½ cup of cookie crumbs. Set aside.
- Next, finely chop the pecans in the food processor (if you haven’t already). The pieces need to be very small, but be careful not to overmix and make crumbs or a paste. You want finely diced, not crumbs.
- Combine the cookie crumbs, pecans, powdered sugar and spices in a small bowl.
- In a small cup, stir together the whiskey with the pumpkin. Pour this mixture over the crumb mixture and stir very well to combine.
- Use a tablespoon to make evenly sized balls and roll them between your hands. You can coat the balls in more cookie crumbs or chopped pecans, if you wish.
- Chill 1 hour before serving. I like to serve these cold, but some prefer them at room temperature.