New Orleans is predominately a Catholic city. As such, many of us who were raised there attended Catholic school from kindergarten through twelfth. Most of the elementary schools were coed, but the majority of high schools were same sex. The boys had their schools and the girls others. Several coed Catholic high schools exist today, but they’re few and far between.
My sister Giselle and I attended the same Catholic high school. It was one established by the Sisters of Mount Carmel. By the time Giselle and I were both there, only a few of the Carmelite nuns remained. There was our stern principal who we were convinced would crack into a thousand pieces if she smiled, and our colorful freshman civics teacher. The Sister that taught civics was a petit and ornery old thing who should have retired her nun’s habit and her stories (exaggerated tales that could send any prepubescent girl running for the convent) long before either of us had reached our thirteenth birthdays. Thankfully, our aunt had attended the same high school ten years earlier, was fully acquainted with both Sisters and had the good sense to enlighten us and help us separate fact from fiction when it came to those non-civics-related-speeches. Coincidentally, my aunt became a teacher at that school and ended up teaching Giselle freshman Speech and English. That’s where these Bourbon Balls come in.
I don’t know all the particulars of this story, but during her freshman year my sister had to come up with a topic for and make a presentation in speech class. Somehow, that project came to involve boozy confections. Specifically, Whiskey Balls from the Pots, Pans and Pioneers Cookbook (a collection of recipes collected from employees of the Louisiana telephone industry). Because alcohol was involved, Giselle sought approval from school administration. The principal okayed the project on one condition. My sister had to make enough Whiskey Balls to share with the front office. Conditions were met and I’m pretty sure she got an A. Crazy stuff, huh? Now, as a parent, I understand why Whiskey/Bourbon Balls may not be the most appropriate prop for a freshman high school project, but they sure do make awesome Christmas goodies to share with adult friends!
Bourbon Balls Recipe
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup bourbon
1 cup pecans, finely chopped
1/2 cup sugar
3 tablespoons light corn syrup
2 1/2 cups finely crushed vanilla wafers
Cocoa and powdered sugar, for rolling
Place chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave on high in 20-second intervals, stirring after each, until chocolate is melted. Add bourbon, pecans, sugar, corn syrup and crushed vanilla wafers; stir well. Shape into 1-inch balls. Roll half the bourbon balls in cocoa powder and half in powdered sugar. Store in an airtight container, separating layers with wax paper, at room temperature overnight to allow flavors to develop. Bourbon Balls will keep for up to 2 weeks. Makes about 3 dozen Bourbon Balls.