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Bourbon Balls

Native to North America, the pecan has two deeply crinkled lobes of nutmeat, much like its relative the walnut. The nuts have smooth, brown, oval shells that break easily, making them good candidates for buying whole and shelling yourself. Raw, unshelled nuts have a longer shelf life than shelled nuts, and keep well for 6 months to 1 year if stored away from light, heat and moisture. Since nuts contain high amounts of oil, they will eventually turn rancid, so check them for freshness before adding to recipes.

Ingredients:

  • 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

Directions:

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.

Make-Ahead Tip: These cookies will keep, refrigerated, for up to 2 weeks.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Collection Series, Cookies, by Marie Simmons (Simon & Schuster, 2002).