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Make a Splash this Holiday Season with this Recipe for Bourbon Balls

I first published this recipe back in my early days of blogging when my mom was practically the only one who read my posts. I’m re-running it now because the recipe came from my mom, so its first iteration was kind of pointless. Now maybe one or two others on Midlife Boulevard will be able to enjoy — maybe even revisit? — Bourbon Balls and Rum Balls this holiday season.

Yes, I understand this is early for December holiday prep (or super late, if you are a retailer) but when you see how yummy these are, you’re going to want to have a batch on hand for each party to go to or host.

bourbon balls recipe, rum balls recipe, desserts, entertaining, holiday entertaining, holidays, recipe, mad men

Though my mom was the maker of this confection, I associate the recipe with my dad. In a 3-ring kitchen binder in my kitchen cabinet is a tattered photocopy of my dad’s handwriting, dated 1967 (? never could read his writing). Now, my dad knows his way around a grill but he most definitely does NOT make cookies. So the fact that he wrote down a recipe and hung on to it means that it made him a hit at work. He and my mom made batches of Bourbon Balls every December for him to bring to his aerospace facility (think Mad Men with pocket protectors). The treats held a fascination for me because the whole time I was growing up, I was unable to partake.

Now I can. And I do.

Bourbon Balls (or, as I prefer, Rum Balls)

2 1/2 C crushed vanilla wafers
1 C confectioners sugar
1 C chopped pecans (optional)
2 T powdered cocoa
3 T white corn syrup
1/2 – 3/4 C bourbon or rum or scotch. Pick your poison.

Mix ingredients in order given. Form balls, roll in confectioners sugar. Store in covered container.


Oh, dear. Because I have changed the way I think about food, and because food suppliers have changed the way they produce food, there’s not much on this ingredient list that is suitable for me any more (score one for cocoa!).

Whatever. I can pay homage to my childhood by indulging in Rum Balls once (or twice) a year, can’t I?

Lori Holden

Lori Holden blogs at Lavender Luz and can be found on Twitter @LavLuz. She lives in Denver with her husband and two tweenagers and is an aficionada of dark chocolate, red wine and good coffee. Her book, “The Open-Hearted Way to Open Adoption: Helping Your Child Grow Up Whole,” was written with her daughter's birth mom and is available in hard cover and Kindle formats. Lori is an award-winning speaker and writer whose work has appeared on The Huffington Postt, BlogHer and the Denver Post moms site, and in magazines like Parenting, Adoptive Families, Conceive, and Partners in Health. Find Lori on Instagram: lavenderluz

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Phoebe Wulliman Graber

Wednesday 20th of November 2013

Don't think I've ever had these treats, but they do sound yummy! I sort of get in a rut during the holidays and don't stray much from those things which are "tried and true". This may be an exception!

Lori Holden

Wednesday 20th of November 2013

I hope you enjoy them, Phoebe!

Kathy @ SMART Living

Tuesday 19th of November 2013

Hi Lori! And thank you for this recipe. I agree that these ingredients don't match my usual diet..but I have to admit every holiday I do splurge a bit and I can see where this would make a great holiday gift. I will definitely give this a try. ~Kathy

P.S. Can a person buy corn syrup in a that is non-GMO?

Lori Holden

Wednesday 20th of November 2013

Oh, that's a great question, Kathy. I'll be checking for that at my local healthy foods store and report back if it's affirmative.

(Aside: I haven't been able to find non-GMO cornstarch.)

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