Jottings: Desk drawer bourbon balls
Like many, the early days of January found me putting away cherished Christmas decorations.
This year and last, a favorite was not displayed. This item is a tiered, china cookie server. It consists
of three different-sized plates threaded on a gold stem. Each plate is adorned with sculpted bows,
holly and cherubs. The stem comes apart and its multiple components must be assembled correctly
to protect the plates. The process of assembling, washing and then disassembling is tedious but a
Why did the tradition not occur this year or last? Christmas 2020 found me alone, FaceTiming daughters
as we shared Christmas many Covid miles apart. This year Alaskan daughter was home and together we
FaceTimed her sister in South Carolina. Visiting Jill requested few sweets, just savory items, and so the
server remained boxed.
Time was when those tiers would be laden with an enormous selection of homemade cookies. It was
a Christmas tradition to bake multiple favorite cookies, often including a new recipe to boot.
Classroom and music teachers would receive large tins of these gourmet cookies. The mailman,
neighbors and friends were also gifted and so each December we would be inspired to continue the
tradition. Enter college and the teachers became far away. Neighbors and friends moved, others
adopted special diets. Each year saw the number of cookies dwindle until one day a calorie-conscious
daughter requested that we have just a variety of meringues displayed on the cookie pedestal.
The last year I remember baking multiple Christmas cookies was 2012. That year, I decided to include
bourbon balls. A note in a favorite cookbook said this was one of Dan's favorites. Not noted was the
hundreds of chocolate bourbon-heavy balls the recipe produced. Now Dan did enjoy a nice bourbon,
but I do not and, as I was soon to discover, neither do my daughters. Although they took other cookies
home, more than fifty balls remained.
My friend, Vicki, phoned, thanking me for the cookies left on her porch, especially those delicious
bourbon balls. Her name went on the remaining ones. At the time we both worked for an Educational
Service District and decided that I would leave the large tin of cookies in my unused desk drawer for
her. Days later I was surprised to open that drawer and find the tin still there. I phoned Vicky to see if
she had found it. Vicki replied that, yes, she had found the tin, enjoyed a cookie, then thought to leave
it there so that every time she came to our office, she could enjoy a little treat.
As the weeks and then months ensued, those little balls marinated. Each time the drawer was opened,
the boozy aroma drifted further. Back then, our workplace was an empty warehouse reconfigured
into rows of adjoined desks. In time, a co-worker noticed Vicki opening that bottom drawer and its
fragrant cloud. Smiling row-mates were then happy to raid the drawer. One June day, from several rows
away, a teacher approached, winked and said, "I hear you have a way to make my afternoon report
writing more fun." I laughed and shared the tin. Yet, suddenly, a sense of foreboding loomed. This fumie
little tin could possibly get me into trouble. Row mates were treated to one last little ball, then home
went that aromatic container.
Since neither my daughters nor I care for bourbon balls, I have never made them again. Should you
wish to make Vicki's favorite cookie, the recipe follows. Be forewarned: It's probably not a good idea to
leave them in your workplace desk drawer!
As for the cookie server, it will grace my table again but perhaps bear hors d'oeuvres.
Desk Drawer Bourbon Balls
2 C. chocolate chips
1/3 C. Karo Syrup
1 Â½ C. Bourbon (Inexpensive)
Â¼ C. evaporated milk
5 C. finely crushed vanilla wafers
2 C. powdered sugar (heaping)
2 C. chopped nuts
Melt the chocolate chips over hot water. Add syrup, bourbon and milk. Combine wafer crumbs,
powdered sugar and nuts in large bowl. Add chocolate mixture. Mix well; cover tightly. Let stand
1-2 hours until mixture is dry enough to roll into small balls. (If mixture gets too dry, moisten with
more bourbon.) Roll 1" balls in granulated sugar. Store in airtight containers several days before serving.
Keeps for 4-6 weeks (& longer!). Do not stack heavily for long storage.
Josie Seymour is a member of the Lake Oswego Adult Community Center Jottings group.
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