National Bourbon Heritage Month is the celebration of bourbon as America's Native Spirit. On August 2, 2007, the US Senate declared September as "National Bourbon Heritage Month." The bill, sponsored by Republican Senator Jim Bunning of Kentucky, passed by unanimous consent. The resolution reinforced the 1964 Act of Congress that declared bourbon America's Native Spirit by celebrating the family heritage, tradition and deep-rooted legacy that the bourbon industry contributes to the United States. At that time (1964), Congress established guidelines for the distilling of bourbon and declared that only whiskey made in the United States can be called bourbon.
I celebrated my legacy this weekend by making some popcorn balls, which were a favorite of my family when I was growing up. These continued the tradition.
Bourbon Pecan Popcorn Balls
Makes about 3 dozen 2 1/2-inch balls
4 quarts popped popcorn
1/2 cup butter
2 cups sugar
2/3 cup light corn syrup
2/3 cup water
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
2 Tbsp bourbon
1/2 to 1 cup toasted pecans, chopped
Carefully remove any unpopped kernels from popcorn. Put popcorn in a large (or 2 medium) buttered baking pan. Keep warm in a 250 degree F oven.
Combine butter, sugar, corn syrup, water, and salt in a saucepan.
Stir over medium heat until sugar is dissolved. Cook until mixture reaches 255 degrees F on a candy thermometer, stirring frequently.
Remove saucepan from heat. Quickly stir in vanilla, bourbon, and pecans.
Pour mixture over popcorn, stirring to mix well.
Butter hands or lightly cover with cooking spray. Form popcorn into balls with hands. Watch out the mixture will still be hot!
Let cool on wax paper. Once completely cool, wrap individual balls in plastic wrap to store and serve.
They are perfect for tailgating or Halloween parties. Wrapped and kept in a dry place, they will stay fresh about 3 to 5 days.