Thanksgiving at my daughter’s was special, as always.  Everyone brought their favorite covered dish to share.  Bob and Janet brought enough dessert to feed everyone twice.  Bob is the kid’s dad, he and his wife, Janet, always make  special Thanksgiving desserts.  Bob makes a bourbon pecan pie that will make your tastes buds sing. I have to admit I was a little disappointed when it didn’t arrive this year.  In its place was a tasty tequila cherry/almond pie, melt in your mouth bourbon balls and zingy, lemon bars.  

The chocolate dipped bourbon balls were a winner, and  after biting into one of the delightful morsels I decided they would make a great gift-giving treat. Bourbon balls on a jaunty Santa plate would be perfect for Christmas. I’ve never made this type of candy so first I went to the Internet where I found a variety of recipes but nothing chocolate dipped.   I decided to go right to the source and called Bob.

Bob said he’d had several dipping failures before perfecting his technique but he would offer some tips.  I had my pencil and paper ready to write down the secrets.  He chatted and I wrote my usual chicken scratches on a piece of scrap paper.  It all sounded straight forward, but  I underestimated the frustration involved in the chocolate dipping process.   

 I do know why the bourbon balls melt in your mouth though, the filling is four cups of confectioners sugar, cup of butter, sweetened condensed milk, coconut and chopped pecans.  Talk about a sugar high!  First you have to soak the pecans in bourbon, I’m liking this so far.  According to Bob the soaking is best accomplished by putting the nuts in a mason jar and filling it with bourbon. I made the mistake of asking what kind of bourbon and being true to his home state of Kentucky, he said Markers Mark, of course.  Not the least expensive bourbon on the shelf but I do like the bottle and a tiny sample made us forget the cost. 

I didn’t give the sequence of events enough thought and while chopping pecans I realize the bourbon and nuts are supposed to marinate for six hours, turning the jar every little bit to make sure the bourbon is well distributed.  It was 4 pm and I’m not doing anything in the kitchen after 7:30 so I’ve already screwed up.  

Did I mention Monty was eager to help with this candy project.  He thought it would be fun to do this together.   Naturally the first thing he mentions is the screw up on the time for the pecan soaking.   He’s not sure this project can be a success when I’ve already messed up step one.   I love that man with all my heart but being a ‘wing it’ kitchen goddess, it is discomforting to work with his precise engineering mind. 

The pecans were truly marinated by the time we got back to the candy project the next day.  What in the world was I thinking making a full batch of the filling.  But in my defense who makes a half a batch of candy?  Per the instructions, because Monty is in charge of repeatedly reciting the instructions, we mix up the ingredients and then divide the filling in half to rest and chill in the fridge.  That done, we move out of the kitchen and on to other things  several hours later I realize we forgot the now very well chilled dough.  

The next step is to roll the cookie filling in our palms until we have a lump bigger than marble, smaller than golf ball.  I’m rolling, very stiff, well chilled, dough into marble size balls and tossing them on a cookie sheet and Monty is methodically measuring the dough and spacing the balls perfectly on the sheet. He patiently explains we can get more balls on the sheet if they are spaced evenly. Really, it is annoying.

 Now that two large cookie sheets are filled with candy balls. I have to rearrange the refrigerator to hold the cookie sheets while the dough chills again.   I can already tell this is a one time event, and we haven’t even gotten to the dipping in chocolate part yet.  

The filling is chilled and we are finally ready to melt chocolate, my notes say to purchase Ghirardelli chocolate wafers and we did.  Monty casually mentioned we could have bought a box of See’s candy for the cost of ingredients in this little project. I agree, but we are having so much fun! 

My notes warn me to be careful melting the chocolate, I’m reminded of Goldilocks when Bob stressed the chocolate has to be just the right.   My chicken scratch notes look like five seconds in the microwave  will melt the candy.  As instructed, we put several wafers in the narrow measuring cup and hit five seconds, nothing, hit five seconds again, nothing. Ok, ten seconds,  getting warm but not quite melted hit the button one more time , hmmm seems a bit too warm maybe, but I think it will work.  You can already recognize the problem, as soon as I dip the buttery filling into the hot chocolate the filling begins to disintegrate before our eyes.  Monty and I hold a strategy session while sampling the Maker’s Mark and the chocolate quickly thickened to fudge consistency.  I have to admit this Makers Mark is growing on me but this whole candy thing is a pain in the butt.  

We started over with new wafers and  managed to salvage about twenty chocolate dipped balls before we ran out of chocolate.  I made a Ghirardelli run and couldn’t find anything but the caramel filled wafers and I’m pretty sure they wouldn’t work.  I’m really tired of this project but I press on to a second grocery store hoping they might have the right chocolate.  Of course they don’t, so after standing  in the  baking aisle for ten minutes debating the pros and cons of each package of chocolate chips I finally decide on the Ghirardelli chocolate pieces, at least the name is correct.  Warning, the pieces are nothing like the wafers, they do not melt into a creamy mixture but turn to fudge instantly upon leaving the microwave.  

We added some milk to the fudge hoping that would thin it out but it turned into a sloshy mess.   Friends will have to be satisfied with a couple of chocolate dipped balls among a bunch of naked ones. I’m through with this candy, next year we can fill the jaunty Santa plates with See’s candy and figure we saved ourselves a lot of frustration.  

Guess we’ll just have to drink the Maker’s Mark!  


4 replies
  1. Karl & Sandy
    Karl & Sandy says:

    Since we were 1of your testers-I wanted to say, they were good, enjoyed them. Next time try rum balls. Don’t stop now, they might be easier. Your a good team in the kitchen.

    • Carrie Bonello
      Carrie Bonello says:

      Since we’ve about finished off the Maker’s Mark we might have to switch to rum. I think the whole chocolate dipping thing was a one time deal though!.


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