I have not made Christmas cookies with my Mom since 2007. This year, I was blessed to have my Mom and my sister Adrienne come out for a visit the week before Christmas to do some baking. Good thing too, because I was in desperate need of cookies and baked goods for gifts and desperately needed an extra pair of hands to help with both the making, scooping, and baking of the cookies as well as with child management. It was a quick, fast-paced 48 hours but we churned out a lot of cookies.
One of my favorite things that we made was bourbon balls. We figured we would "ease into" the baking of cookies by making a "no-bake" treat. Bourbon balls are little truffle-sized balls of bourbon and chocolate that give just a hint of a burn as you eat them. Delicious. The first batch of bourbon balls I made with my Mom was very close to the Joy of Cooking version and it was very, very boozy. I liked them, but decided to make another batch to tone down on the alcohol and up the chocolate factor since I planned on giving them away as gifts. I was a little afraid to gift such boozy cookies to Matthew's teachers in case they happened to be Teetotalers.
So, I made a second batch that had much more sugar, less bourbon, and more chocolate. They turned out pretty darn good. In fact, Paul and I are both obsessed with these. We have to be careful to keep these away from Matthew and Emma because they still have a hefty dose of bourbon in them. Emma tried her hardest to eat one but alas, she is a bit vertically challenged and unable to reach the top shelf of our refrigerator.
These look so cute and would be very pretty on a Christmas cookie platter. I was good and did not keep them all for myself and gave away about 80% of them. I'm already regretting it. Thankfully, these are embarrassingly easy to make which means there is plenty of time to make another batch in time for Christmas Eve.
1 box vanilla wafers, broken into pieces
6 oz. semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/3 cup bourbon
Pinch of salt
2 cups pecans, lightly toasted and finely chopped
Working in batches, finely crush the vanilla wafers in a food processor, or place them in a heavy-duty plastic bag and crush them with a rolling pin.
In the top of a double boiler set over barely simmering water, melt the chocolate. Remove from the heat. Add the brown sugar, corn syrup, bourbon and salt and stir to blend. Stir in the crushed vanilla wafers and half of the pecans.
Spread the remaining pecans on a plate. Using your hands, shape the dough into 1-inch balls. Roll the balls in the nuts to coat evenly. Arrange the balls in layers, separated by waxed paper, in a tightly covered container. Refrigerate for 24 hours before serving to blend the flavors. Makes about 4 1/2 dozen cookies.