Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Pecan Tassies and other Christmas remembrances of Grandma

Every year at Christmastime, my grandma would make three things that I specifically remember:
pecan tassies, divinity, and bourbon balls.

One of her primary attributes was that she was a hard worker...which these three treats are a testimony to, in my opinion, after having made (or attempted to) each of them at some time or another.

These are pecan tassies resting on a cooling rack that was my grandmother's:

I think I only made these once before, and must have had a sort of amnesia set in since then (like a woman has after giving birth and proceeds to repeat the experience a few years later), because I revisited the process again this week. I have no idea where the name "tassies" came from or what it means. These are not health food, but they are really good, especially the touch of vanilla in the filling. They are a lot of work,and time-consuming to make. My 9yo helped me, but had enough after the first 24.

On to divinity, which I have no photo of, and maybe never will have, as that process is a labor of love with an unpredictable outcome. Throw in the complications of high altitude cooking, and it just isn't in my near future. But I remember her giving big tins of it, some with nuts and some without - snowy white peaks of sugar confection.

And bourbon balls, which is one of the mysteries of my life. How she got started making these I may never know, because she, nor anyone else I'm aware of on that side of the family, ever touched a drop of alcohol. From what I've been told, she only used a tablespoon or two of bourbon in several pounds of bourbon balls, but they were tasty, too. What's not to love about flavored butter, sugar and nuts dipped in chocolate. I remember putting them in the refrigerator when we brought them home from her house and nibbling one or two every day till they were gone.

Three fairly tedious and time consuming concoctions, and she would make all of them every year. Amazing.


  1. I can't swear to it, but I would guess she starting making bourbon balls after my mom died. My mother, got the recipe from central KY and make thousands of them every Christmas. I think grandma took it up to appease those of us missing, what was to us, a taste of Christmas.

    I could not guess how many she made, but after they were made she packaged them in green plastic strawberry boxes she saved all year and then wrapped them in red cellophane and tied with a big bow. She made pounds and pounds of fruit cake, cut out cookies hand decorated--hundreds of those probably. It makes my head swirl to think about! She also made pecan tassies.

    Thanks for sharing your remembrances. Mom died in late October and loved the holidays so much that I really miss she and Grandma more this time of year.

    Love, Sarah

  2. I much prefer the tasting to the cooking! ;o)