Derby Chocolate Bourbon Balls

Makes 20 Truffles

These fudgy, no-cook truffles are a healthy spin on Kentucky Bourbon Balls, which are traditionally made with lots of sugar and corn syrup. Here, we use gooey medjool dates to naturally sweeten the chocolatey bites. In place of Nilla wafers, we use almond flour to make this recipe completely gluten-free, too. This recipe is spiked with bourbon, but if you’d like to make them non-alcoholic, you can cook off the alcohol first or swap in coffee—just be sure to let the liquid cool before adding. These truffles are best made in advance and stored in the freezer until you’re ready to serve. 


  • 12 Rancho Meladuco medjool dates, pitted (about 1½ cups)
  • ¼ cup Bourbon whiskey (see Note)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated orange zest (optional)
  • ¾ cup almond flour
  • ⅓ cup cocoa powder, plus more for rolling
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Finely chopped toasted almonds, for rolling (optional)
  • Flaky sea salt, for sprinkling (optional)

In the bowl of a food processor, puree the pitted dates, bourbon, vanilla and orange zest, if using, until smooth. If needed, add water 1 tablespoon at a time until the mixture is smooth. Add the almond flour, cocoa powder, and salt and pulse until a thick paste forms. Scrape the mixture into a bowl and place in the freezer for 1 hour.

Line a large plate with parchment paper. In a shallow bowl, spread some cocoa powder in an even layer. In a separate shallow bowl, spread some finely chopped toasted almonds in an even layer, if using. Using a spoon or a 1 tablespoon-size scoop, portion the mixture into small balls. Using wet hands, roll the bourbon balls between your palms to create smooth bite-size truffles. Roll some of the truffles in the cocoa powder and some in the toasted almonds, if using, and transfer to the prepared plate. Sprinkle with flaky sea salt, if desired. Return to the freezer for at least 1 hour and up to one month. Serve cold.

MAKE AHEAD The truffles can be stored in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 1 month.

NOTE To make these truffles non-alcoholic, ⅓ cup of bourbon to a boil and cook for 5 minutes to cook off alcohol. Let cool. Alternatively, use cooled coffee or espresso.

A picture of bourbon balls in a pan of cocoa powder

Recipe and photos by Julia Heffelfinger @juliaheff

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