Bourbon balls

Time1 hour
YieldsMakes about 4 dozen bourbon balls
Bourbon balls
(Glenn Koenig / Los Angeles Times)
Print RecipePrint Recipe

Holiday cookies can be divided into two categories. There are the picture-perfect cookies we see in the glossy magazines, the ones that make us oooh and ahhh over their dazzling designs and festive colors and look too pretty to eat.

Then there are your family’s favorite holiday cookies: They may not be Martha, but it just wouldn’t be Christmas without them.

This fall we asked readers of the L.A. Times Food section to tell us about those recipes for our first Holiday Cookie Bake-Off, and we asked the public to help us crowd-source their favorites.

More than 350 recipes were submitted online, and almost 80,000 votes were cast. We took the Top 50 vote getters to the folks at Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Pasadena, and students there baked them all off. L.A. Times Food editor Russ Parsons, deputy Food editor Betty Hallock and Times Test Kitchen manager Noelle Carter spent one Saturday morning tasting every single one along with Lachlan Sands, dean of Cordon Bleu, Rebecca Marrs, director of career services at Cordon Bleu, and Porsche Reid, a student.

Despite six different judges with 50 cookies to choose from, there was little debate about the top 10 favorites, which were subjected to another round of testing in the L.A. Times Test Kitchen and are presented here.


In a large bowl, stir together the cookie crumbs, ground pecans and powdered sugar.


In a microwaveable bowl, microwave the chocolate until it’s melted (I usually do it for 30 seconds, then in 10-second intervals, stirring between each interval, and stop before they’re totally melted because they’ll melt as you stir). Stir in bourbon and corn syrup to combine (the chocolate will seize a bit and the bourbon won’t incorporate well. Just do the best you can).


Add the chocolate mixture to the crumbs mixture, and stir until thoroughly combined. Cover and chill at least 30 minutes.


Pour some granulated sugar into a dish. Form the chocolate mixture into small balls the size of grapes, and roll each ball in the sugar.

Submitted by Kate Wheeler of Pasadena.