Holiday Recipe: Pumpkin Bourbon Booze Balls from Crunkcakes

Just what the season called for: a baking project that also takes the edge off.

Booze balls: They contain everything you need to get through the holiday. Photograph courtesy of Crunkcakes.

“I’ve put booze in baked goods for a long time,” says Crunkcakes co-owner Faith Alice Sleeper. Along with partner Raychel Sabath, she create confections that are a far cry from precious.

The recipe for these alcoholic cake balls is pretty straightforward, though Sleeper did offer one helpful tip: You’ll want to add the frosting a half cup at a time to the crumbs to make sure the mixture won’t get too moist, which makes shaping the balls harder (a stint in the fridge or freezer will also help firm them up). Happy cooking, and happier eating.

Pumpkin Bourbon Booze Balls

Makes about three dozen balls

Cake balls:

1¼ cups flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon nutmeg
Pinch salt
1 cup canned pumpkin, such as Libby’s
cup canola oil
¼ cup milk
1 cup sugar


½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
2½ cups powdered sugar
¼ cup bourbon, such as Jim Beam or Maker’s Mark (depending on how highbrow you want to get)
¼ teaspoon nutmeg


1 (12 ounce) bag semisweet or dark chocolate chips
Crystallized ginger for garnish


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Whisk together the first seven dry ingredients. Set aside. Combine pumpkin, oil, milk, and sugar in a large bowl and whisk until combined. Whisk in the dry ingredients.

Grease a 9-inch square pan and fill it with batter. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes, then flip onto a wire rack to cool completely.

While cake is baking, prepare the frosting. Beat butter with an electric mixer set to medium-high speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Keeping the mixer on, gradually add powdered sugar, alternating with bourbon until it reaches a creamy consistency. Mix in nutmeg.

Once cake is cool, pulse in a food processor until you have fine crumbs. Pour the crumbs into a large bowl and mix with 1 to 1¼ cups of frosting, kneading mixture with the back of a large spoon until frosting is absorbed into cake. Roll cake mixture into 1- to 1½-inch balls, a little smaller than a Ping-Pong ball. Place on a cookie sheet lined with wax paper. Stick the balls in the fridge for a few hours to make firm, or in the freezer for 20 to 30 minutes.

Melt chocolate in a double boiler. Coat cake balls in chocolate and let dry on wax paper. Before chocolate sets, top each ball with a piece of crystallized ginger.

The balls will keep for up to a week sealed in the fridge.

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Todd Thrasher’s Swedish Punch

Malabar Shrimp from Bombay Club

Tuna loin from Blue Duck Tavern

Food Editor

Anna Spiegel covers the dining and drinking scene in her native DC. Prior to joining Washingtonian in 2010, she attended the French Culinary Institute and Columbia University’s MFA program in New York, and held various cooking and writing positions in NYC and in St. John, US Virgin Islands.