Some days I feel like a Southerner at heart. I don’t know if it’s the fact that my dad’s parents came from Arkansas, or that I was raised in Southern California. Now, I know these two places are worlds apart, however back in the old days, hah – Southern California, especially Orange County was much more rural and full of orange trees – there were actually places we could play in a country setting of sorts. You’re probably wondering what this has to do with Bourbon Balls – I’m getting there.
If you haven’t explored the south, you don’t know what you are missing – it’s quaint, polite and full of tradition that we don’t always see in our own backyard. The Kentucky Derby is a spectacular tradition, that falls on the first Saturday in May (this Saturday). And if you haven’t been, it is the biggest people watchin’, mint julep sippin’, dressed up occasion, horse race fun that I have ever experienced. The food is deeply southern and the bourbon is a flowing like Niagara falls.
In the spirit of bourbon (no pun intended), these Coconut-Pecan Kentucky Bourbon Balls are all the rage – maybe a few different ingredients in my recipe, but they are everywhere in Kentucky. One bite and you will be looking for your fascinator or spring bonnet to place upon your head, while the sweet bourbon ball melts in your mouth.
So, don’t miss the Derby, even if it’s just watching it from your own television – maybe a bourbon ball in one hand and a margarita in the other, it is Cinco de Mayo too!
1 1/4 cups chopped pecans
6 tablespoons good bourbon, I used Four Roses – yellow label
2 sticks butter, room temperature
3 cups confectioners sugar
1/2 cup sweetened coconut
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
10 ounces bittersweet chocolate
1 tablespoon coconut oil or shortening
(Makes about 30 Balls)
1. Place chopped pecans in a microwavable safe bowl, add bourbon. Microwave on high for 1 minute, remove and let sit for 20 minutes (the heat helps infuse the pecans with the bourbon).
2. In a stand mixer or large bowl, mix butter, confectioners sugar and coconut on high for 2 minutes. Add vanilla and mix again for 3o seconds. Remove bowl from stand.
3. Fold soaked pecans into butter mixer and place in the freezer for 15 minutes to stiffen up. Remove and scoop out by 2 teaspoonfuls into balls and place on a parchment lined baking sheet. Place balls in the refrigerator for 15 minutes, then remove. If the balls aren’t round enough – roll them gently in your hands to form, but I love a good rustic look anyway.
4. In a microwave safe bowl, add 3/4 of chocolate and coconut oil to bowl. Microwave on high for 1 minute, remove and stir. If chips aren’t mostly melted, microwave again for 20 seconds, remove and stir briskly until all chocolate is melted. Add remaining chocolate, and stir briskly until melted into warmed chocolate, it should look shiny.
5. Using a fork and spoon, dip each ball into chocolate and lift with fork, tap several times to remove any additional chocolate. Use spoon to help coat balls, especially during the last of the dipping when it is more difficult to submerge balls. Place on a baking sheet lined with a rack. Place balls in refrigerator to set up for 15 minutes. Serve or store in refrigerator for several days. Enjoy!