Booze and sweets? Now that is one truly joyful combination! And that’s what you get in every bite of a bourbon ball!
The bourbon ball is said to be a native delicacy from the state of Kentucky. Ruth Booe of the Rebecca Ruth Candy Company is credited to be the inventor of this treat. It was in 1936 when a certain dignitary stated that there are two best tastes in the world were her candy and the Kentucky Bourbon. For two years, she worked on combining these two, until she came up with the now-iconic candy.
Bourbon Ball Trivia
- Bourbon is called as America’s native spirit or the American whiskey. About 95 percent of the world’s supply is said to be produced in Kentucky. There are also rules that with it being a distinctive American product, the term “bourbon” must not be used to describe any whiskey or whiskey-based spirits not produced in the United States.
- Bourbon balls are said to be classic holiday treats for the family in the US. But of course, we don’t need any special occasion to enjoy these!
- While there are many recipes on how to make a bourbon ball, the original is still a carefully guarded secret, very much well kept by the candy company which invented it. But here’s one detail divulged about these iconic treats: they use the bourbon brand, Evan Williams.
Bourbon Ball Buying Guide
Bourbon balls are often thought of during the holidays, as it is traditionally served during the big family gatherings. This is also a great dessert option for any cocktail parties or gatherings, especially in the Southern states. However, it may not just be bourbon or pecans as makers experiment and use other liquors in lieu of the booze. The coatings and fillings also go through interesting embellishments and changes depending on the creativity and flair of the maker.
Bourbon Ball Production & Farming in Texas
Bourbon balls are pretty much a prevalent boozy dessert treat from the South – with the Kentucky bourbon and pecans that are usually used to make these. Dessert shops, makers, and of course, bourbon and pecan producers also have a hand in making these treats available to the masses.
Preservatives, Additives, and Chemicals
To check how healthy, or maybe not, bourbon balls can be, it is a good idea to check the ingredients used to make this treat. First, the bourbon. Bourbon is made from distilled fermented mash of grain, yeast, and water. These grains are usually corn, rye, malted barley, and wheat.
Other ingredients include nuts, sugar or corn syrup, chocolate, wafers or cookies. Now that’s where other not-so-pure food items can enter the equation. But just as with anything, consume moderately as it is still high in sugar content.
- Corn Syrup –This is basically sugar extracted from corn and processed to become this clear syrup. Many often mistakenly think of corn syrup as the dreaded high fructose corn syrup but they are totally different. To clarify, corn syrup is pure glucose, while for HFCS some of its glucose is chemically or enzymatically processed to become fructose making it even sweeter than corn syrup or the regular table sugar. While corn syrup per se does not have the negative effects that can be brought upon by high consumption of HFCS, it is still a good practice to consume products with corn syrup moderately. It is still refined sugar and may still contain traces of HFCS.
- Soy Lecithin – Lecithin is derived from many sources such as egg yolks, liver, peanuts, and most commonly in soy. It is usually used as an emulsifier, allowing oil and water to be mixed together. It also helps extend shelf life and reduce the stickiness of the food. But while it may seem harmless, the controversy comes to how the lecithin is produced. Others still deem it as artificial since it is extracted using harsh chemicals, or it is derived from genetically modified soybean plants. Make sure to look for the “organic soy lecithin” label when you buy your food.
- Artificial Flavors – these are flavorings added in our food that are not extracted from organic sources such as plants or animals. These are usually present in processed foods and snacks. But while others do not recommend taking in food with anything artificial, there are no reported significant health risks associated with taking in these artificial flavors.
Bourbon balls are usually sold in boxes or containers, with individual segments or cups inside, just like chocolate! While they do look cute bundled up together, keeping them separate would be a good idea to keep them from melting or getting moist and sticking to each other.
Enjoying Bourbon Balls
Aside from bourbon, bourbon balls can also be infused with other alcoholic drinks. They can also be dipped, rolled or coated in powdered sugar, chopped pecans, or other nuts, cookies or wafers.
It is said that these no-bake treats are often thought of as candies or cookies, but with a boozy twist! Handy, tasty and definitely something interesting to serve to family and friends during parties and gatherings, especially during Kentucky’s Derby parties. However, do make sure to serve these for adults-only parties, or keep these away from kids due to its alcoholic content.
Now, that poses another concern, can you get drunk off bourbon balls? While you can taste the alcohol, you might not get the buzz you are looking for (or are wary off) from eating several of these candies as the small amount of bourbon is combined with a whole lot of other ingredients. However, it might be another thing if you do quickly chow down boxes-full of these treats.
It is recommended that bourbon balls are kept chilled and packed in airtight containers. It would also be a good practice to keep the balls separate by using wax paper or parchment. These can hold for about 1 to 2 weeks, and can even keep in the freezer for about a month. Now that does keep the festivities feel longer!
Homemade Pecan Bourbon Balls
Now here’s your chance to feel the real spirit of the South by doing this easy-to-follow Pecan Bourbon Balls recipe as published by Southern Living.
- 1 (12 oz) package, finely crushed vanilla wafers
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 1 cup finely chopped toasted pecans
- ½ cup bourbon
- 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
- 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
- Powdered sugar, for coating
- Combine and mix the wafers, sugar, toasted pecans, bourbon, unsweetened cocoa and light corn syrup.
- Shape the mixture into 1-inch balls.
- Roll each ball in powdered sugar or in coarsely chopped pecans.
- Refrigerate for up to two weeks.