Pisco Balls

Pisco Balls

Pisco Balls

Anyone who celebrates the Holidays in Southern cities such as New Orleans is familiar and probably quite fond of Bourbon Balls — the boozy bonbons made with vanilla wafers, pecans, confectioner’s sugar, corn syrup, and of course, bourbon. Inspired by this legendary dessert and the Manjar Blanco bonbons I made a couple of weeks ago, I began to imagine a Peruvian version that would be a truly sweet one-bite vehicle for Pisco.

So I played around with different ingredients and proportions until I arrived at a recipe I liked. The key was to include not only Pisco but the uniquely Peruvian raw sugar syrup that I’ve used in desserts such as Ranfañote or cocktails such as the Pisco 75. The final touch was some lemon zest, as a reminder of the lemon twist used for cocktails. Presenting, a dessert that combines Peruvian ingredients with traditions from the American South, Pisco Balls.

  • 1 1/4 cups ground vanilla wafers
  • 1/2 cup ground pecans
  • 1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar
  • 1 1/2 oz. Pisco
  • 1 1/2 oz. Peruvian raw sugar syrup
  • 2 tablespoons confectioner’s sugar
  • lemon zest for garnish

In addition to the ingredients above, you’ll need a skillet to toast the pecans, a mortar and pestle to grind the pecans and the vanilla wafers, a mixing bowl, a small cup, a non-stick baking sheet, and small baking cups.

  1. Toast the pecans in a skillet over medium heat.
  2. Grind the pecans using a mortar and pestle and set aside.
  3. Grind the vanilla wafers using a mortar and pestle and set aside.
  4. Sift 1/2 cup of confectioner’s sugar into a bowl, add the ground vanilla wafers and ground pecans, and mix well with a fork.
  5. Combine the Pisco and raw sugar syrup in a small cup, stir to mix well.
  6. Pour about 2 oz. of the Pisco and syrup mixture into the bowl with the dry ingredients and mix well.
  7. Pour the remainder of the Pisco and syrup into the bowl, and mix to form a thick paste.
  8. Spread 2 tablespoons of confectioner’s sugar on 1/2 of a baking sheet.
  9. Use the palms of your hands to roll the paste into small balls, then coat the balls with confectioner’s sugar by rolling them on the baking sheet.
  10. Drop each ball into small baking cups and garnish with lemon zest.

12 balls.


The paste that is formed by mixing the dry ingredient with the wet ingredients should be firm enough to handle and roll into balls. If it’s too wet, add a bit more ground vanilla wafers. If it’s too dry, add a bit more Pisco or syrup. Refrigerate the balls before serving to make them firm.