Bourbon Balls

It’s the 9th week of the 12 Weeks of Christmas Treats, hosted by Meal Planning Magic. I can’t believe  it’s so close to Christmas! Where has this year gone?

Unlike several of the recipes I’ve made this year (cinnamon sugar pretzels; pecan, kahlua, and brown sugar baked brie; salted caramel hot chocolate mix; and snickerdoodles), this week’s recipe isn’t a new one for me. I’ve made these bourbon balls a couple of times in the past but it was either before this blog existed, or the candies never survived to be photographed. They’re incredibly rich and if you ask my coworkers, it’s hard to have just one.

Bourbon Balls

Adapted from Fine Cooking No. 89 (p 80)

Makes ~4 dozen

Ingredients:

  • 1 c. heavy cream
  • 1/4 c. bourbon (I used Jim Bean)
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 12 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 8 oz. pecans, toasted and cooled
  • 8 oz. plain pound cake (I used store-bought but you can use fresh if you have it on hand)
  • 1/2 c. cocoa powder
  • 1/4 c. confectioners’ sugar

Make the Ganache: In a small saucepan, bring heavy cream barely to a boil. Remove from heat and stir in bourbon and vanilla. Sprinkle chocolate over hot cream mixture and allow to sit for 5 minutes.

While chocolate is melting, place pecans in a food processor, pulsing until coarsely chopped. Add pound cake and pulse until pecans and pound cake are finely chopped.

Whisk chocolate into cream until mixture is smooth. With the food processor running, slowly pour in chocolate. When pecans, pound cake, and chocolate are thoroughly combined, pour into a bowl and refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour.

Make the Bourbon Balls: Just before removing ganache from fridge, line a baking sheet with wax or parchment paper, or set mini cupcake liners on a baking sheet (or serving dish).

Sift together cocoa powder and confectioners’ sugar. Place in a shallow bowl or plate.

Remove ganache from fridge. Using a mini ice cream scoop or two teaspoons, scoop out a tablespoon of mixture. Roll in between your palms to form a ball. Roll in cocoa-sugar mixture and place on prepared baking sheet or in a cupcake liner. Continue until finished with the ganache. (If mixture gets too soft to work with, refrigerate again until firm).

Refrigerate bourbon balls until firm, about 2 hours.

Store: Bourbon balls are best stored in a cool place (fridge or at room temp if it’s not too warm) so that they retain their shape.

Pretzel S’mores

Last week, I made the world’s most expensive salad. As I was getting the balsamic vinegar from my cabinet, a glass spice jar fell, and hit the stove top in just the wrong spot. It cracked the glass top, making two burners unusable. Now I’m afraid use the stove or oven at all. All it’ll take is a little water to slip through that crack and I’ll end up electrocuting myself.

The new stove is supposed to arrive this coming Saturday, putting a little bit of a cramp in my Veteran’s weekend baking plans. I had planned to knock out my holiday care packages, sending them early because of our upcoming move. Lucky for me that I had at least one no-bake item on my list – these pretzel s’mores that I discovered through Pinterest. Not only were the s’mores easy to make, they’ve got that amazing salty-sweet combo that I love. Fingers crossed that the recipients of my care packages enjoy them as much as I did!

Looking for more holiday treats? Head over to Meal Planning Magic to see what else bloggers made to celebrate the 12 Weeks of Christmas Treats.

Pretzel S’mores

Inspired by Love From the Oven

Makes ~3 dozen pretzel s’mores

Ingredients:

  • 13 oz. bag of pretzels (I used the square waffle ones but use whatever shape you’d like)
  • ~18 snack sized chocolate bars (milk chocolate or dark, your choice)
  • 1/2 bag of marshmallows (~18 marshmallows)
  • 1 1/2 bags candy melts, melted
  • sprinkles (if desired)

Note: You may have extra pretzels, marshmallows, and chocolate melts leftover.

Prep: Line a shallow Pyrex (or other microwave safe dish) with wax or parchment paper. In addition, line a baking sheet with wax paper. Set both aside.

Prep the chocolate and marshmallows. Break the mini chocolate bars into 3-4 pieces, depending on the size and shape of your pretzels. Cut the marshmallows into 3 pieces.

Make the S’mores: In the Pyrex dish, place one layer of pretzels, leaving about an inch between each pretzel. Top with a piece of marshmallow and a piece of chocolate. Microwave for 10-20 seconds, until marshmallows puff up a little. Some of the chocolate may also start to melt. Remove from microwave and top with a second pretzel.

Allow pretzels to sit for a minute or two to set. Dip in melted chocolate melts and set on wax paper-lined baking sheet. Top with sprinkles, if desired. Refrigerate for 15-20 minutes (or freeze for less time) until chocolate is set.

Store in an airtight container at room temperature.

Pecan, Brown Sugar & Kahlua Baked Brie

Holiday entertaining isn’t just about sweets and baked goods, it’s also about snacks and appetizers, both savory and sweet. With my friends, there has to be some sort of cheese on the appetizer table, whether it’s a cheese tray, an appetizer compiled with a cheese component, or a baked cheesy dip (i.e. baked fontina with herbs). I’ve always loved brie – my favorite being my bestie’s brie and fig jam – and the 12 Weeks of Christmas Treats gave me the opportunity to try out a recipe that I’ve had bookmarked for quite a while. This baked brie is sweet and indulgent – a wonderful addition to your holiday table. Personally, I loved it on top of a warm slice of baguette, although you can also serve it with crackers or apples.

Disappointed I’m not sharing a dessert today? Head over to Meal Planning Magic to see what other bloggers made this week for the 12 Weeks of Christmas Treats.

Pecan, Brown Sugar & Kahlua Baked Brie

Adapted from My Life As a Mrs

Ingredients:

  • 13-16 oz. wheel of Brie
  • 2/3 c. pecans, toasted and chopped
  • 1/4 c. brown sugar, packed
  • 2 1/2 Tbs. Kahlua
  • bread, crackers, or apples for serving

Prepare the Brie: Preheat oven to 350ºF.

Use a paring knife to trace a circle around the edge of the brie, about 1/4 inch in from the edge. Using the knife or a spoon, scrape off rind from the center of the brie, so that the 1/4 inch rim remains. Set in an oven-proof baking dish and set aside.

Top the Brie & Bake: In a small bowl, combine pecans, brown sugar, and Kahlua. Pile on top of brie, staying within the 1/4 inch rim. Bake for 10-15 minutes, until topping is bubbling. Do not overcook, otherwise brie will lose its shape.

Serve immediately with warm bread, crackers, or apples.

Crumb Cake

This is my third week participating in the Twelve Weeks of Christmas Treats hosted by Meal Planning Magic. This week, I bring to you a sweet for those mornings when family stays over or an afternoon coffee with friends.

This crumb cake comes together easily and quickly.  The cake is light and airy and the crumb topping is more than generous. It tastes as good as bakery crumb cake, if not better.

New York-Style Crumb Cake

Adapted from The Best of America’s Test Kitchen 2008/Cooks Illustrated

Servers 8-10

Makes an 8×8 in. pan

Ingredients for Crumb Topping:

  • 8 Tbs. unsalted butter, melted and still warm
  • 1/3 c. granulated sugar
  • 1/3 c. brown sugar, packed
  • 3/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 1 3/4 c. cake flour

Ingredients for Cake:

  • cooking spray/vegetable oil
  • 1 1/4 c. cake flour
  • 1/2 c. granulated sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 6 Tbs. unsalted butter, cut into 6 pieces, softened but still cool
  • 1/3 c. buttermilk or plain low-fat yogurt
  • 1 large egg plus 1 large egg yolk, at room temperature
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

Make the Crumb Topping: Whisk together melted butter, sugars, cinnamon, and salt. When combined, add cake flour. Stir with a wooden spoon until mixture is thick and cohesive. Set aside and allow to come to room temperature while you prepare the cake.

Make the Cake: Preheat oven to 325F. Line an 8×8 inch pan with aluminum foil, with an inch or two overhanging edges of pan. Spray with vegetable oil/cooking spray and set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk (or beat on “stir”) flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt. With a mixer on medium-low speed, add butter, one piece at a time, until mixture is crumbly and butter is pea-sized. Increase speed to medium-high and add buttermilk, egg, egg yolk, and vanilla extract. Beat until light and fluffy, about 1 minute. The batter will be thick and very sticky.

Pour cake batter into prepared pan. Use an offset spatula to even it out, making sure the batter reaches all four corners and edges of the pan. Using your fingers to crumble the cinnamon-sugar-flour mixture into pea-sized pieces evenly over cake batter.

Bake for 35-45 minutes, until cake is browned and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Allow to cool for 30 minutes in pan before using aluminum foil to remove cake from pan, move to a wire rack to cool completely. If desired, dust with confectioners’ sugar before serving.

Storage: May be tightly wrapped in plastic wrap and kept at room temperature for up to 2 days.