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Spirited Cooking: Bourbon Balls

From frosty Mint Juleps in the summer to warming drams in the winter, we love drinking bourbon year-round.

But we go out of our way to enjoy the complex spirit in the fall, since September is National Bourbon Heritage Month. Seriously: A few years ago, Congress even passed a bill making the celebration official. While observing is, of course, voluntary, we strongly suggest you mix up a slew of Old Fashioneds, Presbyterians and Horse’s Necks.


You can also use the liquor in some traditional baked goods. So, we asked our friends Matt and Ted Lee, whose 2007 The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook won a James Beard Award, for their simple and delicious Hot-Spiced Bourbon Balls recipe. (The best part is that it only takes about 15 minutes to create.)

While the treat is most often served at the holidays, the brothers like to make it any chance they get. Once you taste the sweet mix of whiskey, nuts, cocoa and spices, you’ll no doubt agree with them.

Hot-Spiced Bourbon Balls

Contributed by Matt and Ted Lee


  • .25 cup Bourbon
  • 2 tbsp Sorghum syrup, cane syrup, molasses or honey
  • 1.25 cups Powdered sugar, divided
  • 2 tbsp Cocoa powder
  • .5 tsp Cayenne pepper (optional)
  • .25 tsp Ground mace
  • .25 tsp Ground cinnamon
  • .5 tsp Salt
  • 10 oz Vanilla wafers (about 60)
  • 1 cup Coarsely chopped pecans

In a small bowl, whisk together the bourbon and sorghum syrup until well combined. In a large bowl, sift together 1 cup of the powdered sugar with the cocoa powder, cayenne, mace, cinnamon and salt. Using a wooden spoon or rubber spatula, stir in the bourbon mixture until a smooth, glossy paste forms.

In a food processor, pulse the vanilla wafers into fine crumbs, about 10 (5-second) pulses. Add the wafer crumbs and pecans to the bourbon mixture and stir until consistently doughy and workable, about 2 minutes.

Roll the dough into 1-inch balls, roll each ball in the remaining .25 cup powdered sugar, and place on a sheet of waxed paper. Store in the refrigerator in a container with a tight-fitting lid, with a sheet of waxed paper between layers, for up to 4 days.

Series & Type: TrendsSpirited Cooking
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