Christmas Cookie Recipe: Honey Whiskey Balls.


I thought I was finished baking all my Christmas cookies, but I started thinking hmmm….I already have one that’s green, but you know what would really complete this line up? A red cookie! So I started looking up recipes for “red cookies.” I found a bunch for different types of red velvet cookies and some sounded delicious, but I wasn’t quite sold. Then I remembered this book that I picked up last year:

best. cookie book. ever.

best. cookie book. ever.

This book is great. It’s filled with classic Christmas cookie recipes, both old and new, and from all over the world. If you want to pick up a copy (and you should), check it out on

Anyway, I started flipping through the pages, looking for something red. I did not find something red, per se, but I did however find something that I could make red – Chocolate Bourbon Balls. So I decided to give these a try. Apparently this cookie has its origins in the 1930’s, and there are many variations out there. So, I decided to throw one more into the mix. So I give you my take on this classic: Honey Whiskey Balls.

strong, but sweet.

strong, but sweet.

Before I share the recipe, I feel the need to mention a few things, mainly that these are somewhat STRONG. Not “get drunk off of one cookie” strong, but you can definitely taste the whiskey. So, if whiskey ain’t your thing, you may want to stick with sugar cookies. The original recipe called for bourbon, but I wanted to try Jack Daniel’s Honey Whiskey, and the feedback was all positive. Also, I used Merckens red colored chocolate to make them red. I love Merckens and highly recommend it for all your chocolate-y needs. And finally, the original recipe also called for pecans – I used walnuts. It worked out great. With that being said, heeeeerrrrrreeee’s the recipe!

Chocolate Honey Whiskey Balls.

What you’ll need:

2 1/2 cups Vanilla Wafers

1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar

1 cup ground walnuts

6 oz Merckens red chocolate wafers

1/2 cup Jack Daniel’s Honey Whiskey

3 tablespoons light corn syrup

granulated sugar

What you’ll do:

In a food processor, combine the Vanilla wafers, confectioner’s sugar and walnuts until finely ground and set aside.  Melt the chocolate according to the manufacturer’s directions (in the microwave or over the stove). Once melted completely, stir in the whiskey and corn syrup. Pour chocolate mixture into the dry ingredients, and mix until well combined. Let sit for about 30 minutes. Roll the mixture into walnut-sized balls, and roll each in granulated sugar until completely covered. It’s best to let these sit for a few days before serving, as they can be…somewhat powerful at first. 🙂

And thus, my Christmas Cookie lineup was complete.

cookies in a box!

cookies in a box!

Baking Baklava: the only thing to fear is fear itself.

I’m pretty sure the first time I’d ever heard of Baklava was from the Disney movie Aladdin. At least, that’s the first time I remember being conscious of what it actually was. I’d certainly never eaten it before that point, and honestly, didn’t even eat it until quite some time after. And when I did finally eat it for the first time in all it’s delicious nutty syrup-y glory, I never in a million years thought, “One day I’m gonna make this myself!”

My how times change.

Even after two years of pastry school, I still hadn’t made it though, so when I was presented with the challenge of making it, I admit, I was nervous. I’m supposed to be good at this – what if it’s a giant fail? I couldn’t bear to face that potential outcome, so, I decided to make it and only reveal the finished product if it turned out decent.

I started with the nut mixture – almonds, walnuts and pistachios. So far, so good.

I then began the layering process – Phyllo dough sheets, nuts, more sheets, more nuts…

…until no nuts remained.

what lies beneath…

Next, I had to cut it. I was nervous about this part – one false move could end the whole thing.

a cut above.

Next up, baking. While it baked, I made the syrup. I also sampled the syrup – repeatedly. After I was finally 100% sure that it was, in fact, unbelievably delicious, I removed the baked baklava from the oven, poured the syrup carefully over top, and garnished it with finely chopped pistachios.


Success! I waited until it cooled down, and ate a piece just make sure it passed the smell, sight AND taste test. This morning, again to be 100% sure, I had to have another piece. Now, it’s up to the people to decide its fate tomorrow, when I unleash my baklava out into the world (and by world, I mean my co-workers). 🙂

Recipe Sunday: Banana Walnut Butter Cake.

I had a banana on the kitchen table that was starting to over-ripen. I really didn’t want it to go to waste, and I also really wanted to bake something from scratch – I haven’t in over a week! I was thinking about bread, and as I was digging through the cabinet for the yeast, I found an open bag of walnuts. I’m also on the tired side as it was a very busy, yet productive and enjoyable weekend. So, over-ripe banana + open bag of walnuts + extra tired me = Banana Walnut Butter Cake: an easy recipe I created myself, on the fly. It’s quick to prepare and decadently delicious to dine on. It just takes a tad long to actually bake, due to the heaviness of the batter. But on a below freezing winter evening, there’s nothing wrong with a little extended oven action.

looks like bread, tastes like cake.

Banana Walnut Butter Cake.

What you’ll need:

1/2 cup butter (softened)

1 cup sugar

2 eggs

1 1/2 cups Flour

1 small banana (mashed – i mashed it between my hands – it was fun)

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

What you’ll do:

Preheat the oven to 350. In a mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until fluffy. Add the eggs, and beat until well mixed. Add the flour and mix well. Add the mashed banana, mix well. Fold in the walnuts. Grease an 8 1/2″ x 4 1/2″ loaf pan, and fill with the batter. Bake for 30 – 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. The outside will be golden brown.

I then topped mine with a Brown Sugar Nutmeg spread, but instead of “spreading,” I piped. This was another recipe created on the fly.

Brown Sugar Nutmeg Spread.

What you’ll need:

1/4 cup butter (softened)

1/2 cup dark brown sugar

1 tsp nutmeg

What you’ll do:

In a mixing bowl, cream together the butter, brown sugar, and nutmeg until smooth.

gratuitous cake close up.

Cut the cake.

I can’t say no to cake. It’s just not something I do. Even when I know I don’t want to eat a whole piece. I’ll take it anyway, and either eat it and feel yucky, or let it sit until I eventually take a couple tastes and then begrudgingly throw the half-eaten remains in the garbage (have I mentioned that I absolutely despise wastefulness?). So what’s a cake-loving-recycling-obsessed bakestress to do?  The answer is easy, if you take it logically – there must be 50 ways to leave your lover. And by lover, I mean big ol’ piece of cake. 

Just cut it.

one cake, many varieties.

 That’s right, make one big sheet cake, ice it, then cut into however many pieces you desire. In my case, i made an apple juice cake – again my inner recycler was trying to find uses for things I already had that would soon go bad if not used, and iced it with cream cheese icing. I popped into the fridge for about 20 minutes so the icing would set, then cut it up, and topped the pieces with various decorative and tasty extras, and Voila! We’ve got cake bites.

cake bite: the poor man's petit four.

Cheesecake gets personal.

the blank cheese canvas.

Picture this: you’re on your way to a party. You’ve been tasked with bringing dessert. You walk into a shop. You see cheesecake. “Everyone loves cheesecake,” you think to yourself. But as you go down the list of attendees, you remember Tommy is allergic to coconut, while Tammy loves coconut. And Gina is all about pumpkin, but Johnny would rather eat dirt than anything pumpkin flavored. What do you do? Small Indulgences can solve this conundrum. Enter the “Make-your-own-mini-cheesecake-bar.”  Take a bunch of mini plain cheesecakes (3-4″ in diameter), select a variety of toppings (they could be anything from nuts, to fruit, to chocolate chips, to candy – whatever you fancy), and let the party goer’s create their own personal dessert. Not only will everyone have fun taking part in creating their own desserts, but for what may be the first and only time in your life, you’ll be able to say you pleased everyone.

my personal mini cheesecake, with walnuts.