Photo: Greg DuPree; Prop Styling: Christine Keely; Food Styling: Chelsea Zimmer
Active Time:
45 Mins
Total Time:
4 Hours 45 Mins
Yield:
5 dozen

This boozy confection headlines many a list of classic Christmas candies, but not everyone knows that it comes in three distinct styles. Chocolate, pecans, and a splash of bourbon figure in each of them, but variations commence from there. Vanilla-wafer-driven orbs flavored with cocoa powder and rolled in sugar claim first place in the hearts of fans. Second in line are the cakelike powdered sugar-and-butter-based balls of sweetness that are dipped in melted chocolate. Least known but at the top of our list are those made with melted chocolate rather than cocoa. Seeking a combination of the three with an extra twist, we used gingersnaps for the cookie component, added ground and crystallized ginger, and dunked them in chocolate for an elegant endnote. We guarantee you’ll earn compliments throughout the holiday season with this dessert, no matter how your bourbon balls roll. We suggest using melting chocolate, such as Ghirardelli Dark Melting Wafers, which are available at many supermarkets in the baking aisle. They need no tempering and will not become streaky as they dry.

How to Make It

Step 1

Preheat oven to 350°F. Stir together gingersnap crumbs, sugar, finely chopped crystallized ginger, ground ginger, and salt in a large bowl until well combined.

Step 2

Spread pecans in a single layer in a baking pan, and toast in preheated oven until fragrant and slightly darkened, 5 to 7 minutes, stirring halfway through baking. Add pecans to bowl with gingersnap mixture; do not stir.

Step 3

Stir together evaporated milk, light corn syrup, and bourbon in a medium bowl until well combined, and set aside.

Step 4

Break chocolate bars into small to medium chunks. Microwave chocolate in a medium-size microwavable bowl on MEDIUM (50% power) for 30 seconds; stir. Continue to microwave until chocolate is completely smooth, shiny, and fluid, about 1 minute, stirring at 15-second intervals. To melt on the stove, bring 2 to 3 inches of water to a gentle boil in a saucepan over medium-high. Reduce heat to medium-low; maintain a gentle simmer without steam. Place chocolate in a heatproof bowl; set it over saucepan, making sure bowl does not touch water. Cook chocolate, stirring occasionally, until chocolate is melted, 2 to 4 minutes.

Step 5

Add gingersnap mixture to melted chocolate, and stir once. Quickly stir in evaporated milk mixture until well combined. Cover and chill 1 hour. Roll gingersnap-chocolate mixture into about 60 (1-inch) balls. Place balls in a single layer in a large container with a tight-fitting lid or on a large rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Attach lid or cover tightly with aluminum foil; freeze until frozen solid, about 2 hours.

Step 6

Melt dark chocolate melting wafers in microwave or over simmering water, as directed in Step 4. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.

Step 7

Remove bourbon balls from the freezer. Drop bourbon balls into bowl of melted chocolate, and (using the tines of a fork) roll in melted chocolate until completely covered. Transfer to prepared baking sheets, and quickly and carefully garnish with sliced crystallized ginger. Chill in the refrigerator until set, about 1 hour.

Step 8

Transfer bourbon balls to an airtight container, and store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. To serve, remove from refrigerator; let stand until room temperature. Transfer to paper baking cups.