There are many things to love about these truffle-like treats, including how quick and easy they are to make (no eggs, no butter, and no baking) and the fact that almost all their ingredients are common pantry items. Oh, and the adult appeal of their unmistakable bourbon flavor doesn’t hurt, either. The combination of ground vanilla wafers and toasted nuts contributes a unique crunch, which helps distinguish these confections from most candies. We chose pecans for the nuts; their sweet, buttery flavor was a perfect match for the caramel-y, slightly smoky notes of the bourbon. A small amount of cocoa powder brought bittersweet complexity (and helped bind the mixture) without making the bourbon balls taste chocolaty. Since these treats aren’t baked, granulated or brown sugar wouldn’t have a chance to melt, so we used confectioners’ sugar to sweeten the balls without contributing grit. But we welcomed a little crunch on the exterior, so the finishing touch was a roll in sparkly granulated sugar.
- Yield: 24 balls
- 2½ cups (6 ounces) vanilla wafers
- 1 cup pecans, toasted
- ½ cup (2 ounces) confectioners’ sugar
- 6 tablespoons bourbon
- 3 tablespoons light corn syrup
- 1½ tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
- ½ cup (3½ ounces) granulated sugar
- Process vanilla wafers and pecans in food processor until finely ground, about 15 seconds; transfer to large bowl. Stir in confectioners’ sugar, bourbon, corn syrup, and cocoa.
- Spread granulated sugar in shallow dish. Working with 1 heaping tablespoon at a time, roll wafer mixture into balls, then roll in granulated sugar to coat. Transfer balls to large plate and refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour, before serving.