This #SeasonedGreetings shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone and the recipe is an adaptation of an old family recipe.
One of my favorite things about Christmas once I graduated high school and moved back to the south were the annual Christmas cookie exchanges that my Bonus Mom (otherwise known as step-mom) hosted. It was a big to-do. She baked and decorated and served boozy drinks for her friends. One of the crowd favorites were the bourbon balls that Laura’s friend, Lois used to make. I would pop one into my mouth and pretend to enjoy it while I gagged the bourbon-filled ball down my throat.
Sorry I lied about enjoying them all those years.
Something happened as I grew older, though. I began to really enjoy the taste of bourbon. Now it is my poison of choice. Bourbon & ginger with a lime? Delightful.
My palate is much less picky, and much more refined now. I actually enjoy the flavor of things I didn’t enjoy before, like hot sauce, onions, pepper, jalapenos, and bourbon. I don’t shy away from trying things like bacon wrapped rabbit or spicy duck confit like I would have fifteen years ago. I’m not so adventurous that I’m quite willing to eat beef tongue, but I’m getting there. Maybe if it was marinated in Chipotle Tabasco sauce and fried in unicorn blood. Maybe then I’d eat it.
Getting older is a beautiful thing, isn’t it? So many great things happen as you age. Sure, you become slightly incontinent. Yeah, things creak from time to time. But really, aging gracefully is fantastic, especially if you pay attention to the wondrous things that happen in the food tolerance arena.
I tried to recreate these hallowed cookie exchanges year to year, but because we move around so much, it is difficult to get established anywhere long enough to call them annual. I had one in Savannah and two in Raleigh. Both were very small events, but that’s what happens when your fatal flaw is that you’re afraid to make the first move in a friendly relationship. I would love to host one in our new home, but I’m afraid, y’all! Our house is super duper tiny, and I really don’t know that many people yet. I have maybe three people I could invite and they all have busy schedules and friends of their own. I just don’t know. Maybe someone will invite me to theirs instead? Maybe? Just maybe. Probably not. Either way, I made some super cute free, printable Cookie Exchange invitations. You should go check them out.
I’m going off on a complete tangent here. In an effort to prove that I’ve grown up, I wanted to make Lois’ old bourbon balls with two twists. They needed to be gluten free and I wanted them to be slightly spicy to go with the smoky Kentucky bourbon that I enjoy drinking. Spicy Mexican chocolate is one of my favorite indulgences so combining that with bourbon just sounded like one of the most perfect holiday party recipes EVAH.
Tabasco is consistently our favorite brand of hot sauce. It is gluten free which is incredibly important since Grady’s Celiac diagnosis. Not that Grady is going to be allowed to eat a bourbon ball, but our suspicion is that Kyle also has Celiac Disease. His father has it, Grady has it, Kyle has all the symptoms. Like all 300 of them. It just makes sense from a genetic autoimmune standpoint.
Tabasco is one of our trusted products and we use it in everything from our eggs to some of the fancy cocktails that Kyle dreams up. The Chipotle flavor is hands down my favorite. It has this smoky spiciness that I thought would pair incredibly well with chocolate and bourbon so on a recent trip to Publix, I grabbed some of the Original red Tabasco, the green Jalapeno Tabasco sauce, and the Chipotle Tabasco.
These boozy confections can be packaged in multiple ways, but I couldn’t resist these little shot glasses for a fun way to package them to gift to friends. These would be great given as a hostess gift or simply used on the dessert table during the holiday festivities. If you’re looking for a super simple recipe that will wow the recipients, this is your guy. You can use between 1/2 Tablespoon and 1 Tablespoon of Tabasco sauce depending on how spicy you like it. You can definitely play with these balls a little to get them just right. Add and taste, add and taste. Remember the baking rule of thumb: You can always add more, but you can never take it away.
Now without further chatter, here’s the Bourbon Ball Recipe you’ve been waiting for!