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Hot Chocolate Bourbon Balls

Here I am two months into our “Stay at Home” orders, feeling as if I’m in a perpetual episode of CHOPPED or CHOPPED SWEETS! Temperatures are rising here in Los Angeles, so I decided to make something that most people look at as a strictly Christmas or cold weather treat. Fruits have seasons, chocolate does not!

Any one, even a novice baker, can make a bourbon ball. There is no baking involved, just chopping, sifting and mixing. This is what makes it a very good hot weather chocoholic treat, because you don’t have to heat up your kitchen to make them. They also only have seven ingredients that most people have in their pantry anyway.

Of course, I went to my pantry only to find that my box of Nilla Wafers had gone rancid. Who knew this could happen to a cookie? I didn’t have any other cookies on hand, but I figured it couldn’t be that hard to make. I found a recipe on The Food Network from Alton Brown for Vanilla Wafers and decided to give it a try. They aren’t the perfect little dome that you get in a box of Nilla Wafers, but if you follow Alton’s instructions and do not use them until they have cooled for at least half an hour, they will firm up nicely, so they are easy to pulverize in your food processor.

Vanilla Wafers – recipe from Alton Brown

Once you have your wafers, you will want to pulverize them into a fine bread crumb texture. If you are using boxed Nilla Wafers, you need between 30-36 to get the required 1 cup of crumb. I usually just grind up the 36 cookies, dump the crumb into a bowl and then measure out the cup of crushed wafers. This way, when you add the liquid ingredients, you already have some extra crushed wafers to add if the batter is too thin.

You will also want to run your nuts through the food processor too. I prefer a coarse grind, similar to mincing garlic, so there is still a little bit of a crunch factor. However, if you prefer a creamier texture to your bourbon ball, you can do a fine grind on the nuts too.

Normally, you would use cocoa powder in this recipe, but once again I found I had run out. As luck would have it though, I did have a bag of Spanish hot chocolate mix that a friend had given me. The problem is that hot chocolate or hot cocoa mix is not just cocoa. It also contains sugar and milk, so if the recipe calls for 1 tablespoons of cocoa, you are not getting an equal amount of cocoa from the mix. Don’t worry, you don’t have to give up. You just need to alter the recipe, just decrease the amount of sugar in the recipe and increase the amount of cocoa mix. In this case, I decreased the confectioners sugar by 1/4 cup and doubled the amount of cocoa mix. It might be slightly less chocolaty, but since the original recipe only called for 2 tablespoons, I don’t think you will notice the difference.

Jack Daniels and Spanish Hot Chocolate mix

Now comes the question: Bourbon, Whiskey or Scotch? After some research, I learned that Scotch is whisky from Scotland made from malted barley, while Bourbon is whiskey distilled from corn made in the US. And yes, I did spell whiskey differently, because in Scotland they spell it without the “e” and in America we spell it with the “e.” So what is the take here? Both Scotch and Bourbon are whiskey. It just depends if you prefer corn or barley distillation. My preference is corn. I have never tried any type of Scotch that didn’t taste like perfume to me, so I go with Bourbon. If you don’t like either, you can also use Rum.

There is no creaming or sifting required. You just add all the ingredients into a bowl and mix until well combined. If you have decided you want everything ground finely, you can add your measured ingredients back into the food processor and pulse until you get the consistency you want.

Bourbon Ball Batter

After you add your liquid ingredients, you may find the batter too runny. This is where the additional wafer crumb comes in handy. You just add a little in at a time until you get a consistency that doesn’t ooze out liquid and will hold a ball shape. At this point, I would chill the dough for half an hour just to make sure that the balls have firmed up before scooping. Once again, the melon baller is your friend. It makes forming the balls much easier and much less messy! If you don’t have a melon baller, scoop out about 2 teaspoons worth of dough and roll it between your palms to form a ball. Make sure that you have wet hands; otherwise, more dough will stick to your hands than the ball.

Once you have scooped out all your balls, you can roll them in granulated sugar or ground nuts. You want to make sure that you do not stack them until the outer skin has dried out slightly. This ensures that they do not stick to each other. I usually cover them and let them sit in one layer overnight and then stack them in an airtight container. My mother always told me to make sure that we made them at least a week before we were going to eat them, because the outside will actually dry out a little forming a little shell around the moist interior.


Hot Chocolate Bourbon Balls

  • Servings: approx. 40
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Credit: Unknown


  • 1 c finely crushed vanilla wafers (30-36)
  • 3/4 c confectioners sugar
  • 1 c chopped walnuts
  • 4 tbl hot chocolate mix
  • 2 tbl light corn syrup
  • 1/4 c bourbon
  • granulated sugar or ground walnuts to roll balls in


  1. Finely grind your vanilla wafers. Measure out 1 cup and reserve the remaining crumb.
  2. Chop nuts and add to ground wafers.
  3. Add confectioners sugar and cocoa mix to nuts and wafers.
  4. Add corn syrup and bourbon.
  5. Mix thoroughly. If the batter is too thin, add reserved cookie crumb to batter to thicken until it binds together well.
  6. Chill for half an hour.
  7. Scoop out dough to form balls about 1 inch in diameter. If you are not using a melon baller, wet your hands before you shape the balls.
  8. Roll in granulated sugar or nuts.
  9. Store in an airtight container in a single layer for at least a few days before serving.


  1. Replace the bourbon with brandy or rum.
  2. Replace the walnuts or pecans with almonds or hazelnuts.
  3. Add spices, such as cinnamon and cayenne, to make this Mexican Hot Chocolate Bourbon Balls.
  4. Roll in chocolate sprinkles, extra hot chocolate mix or dip them in chocolate to make a bon-bon.
  5. You can easily replace the corn syrup with golden syrup or brown rice syrup. Honey could be used, but it would alter the flavor.

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