The Kentucky Derby, Mint Juleps and Bourban Pie



The Kentucky Derby is this weekend and offers up a chance to try some Southern favorites and an excuse for another party.

Epicuriuos has some menu suggestions for you.  If a full-out menu is a challenge for you this weekend, you have to at least celebrate with a great pie and some Bourbon.

Two desserts that are really synonymous with the Kentucky Derby are Chess Pie, and Bourbon Pecan Pie.  The recipes follow.

Kentucky Bourbon is a must and a lot of people look to the Mint Julep to cap-off their celebration.  I personally am not a fan of the Mint Julep.  I felt like I was drinking mouth-wash.  My experience probably had to do with an untalented bartender, but good Bourbon, on it’s own makes for a smoooth Derby Day.

Get some more Bluegrass Bites from Epicurious, from buffets to cook-outs.

Chocolate Pecan Chess Pie

Serves 8


1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped

1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon bourbon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup chopped pecans
1 purchased frozen 9-inch pie crust

Whipped cream


Preheat oven to 325°F. Place baking sheet in oven. Stir butter and chocolate in heavy small saucepan over low heat until melted and smooth. Remove from heat; cool 10 minutes.

Whisk sugar and eggs in medium bowl to blend. Whisk in chocolate mixture, then bourbon, vanilla and salt. Stir in pecans (filling will be thick). Spoon filling into crust.

Place pie on baking sheet in oven. Bake until edges of filling puff and begin to crack and center is just set, about 30 minutes. Transfer pie to rack and cool completely. Serve with whipped cream.

Pecan Bourbon Pie

Makes 2 Pies


2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup cake flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
1 cup (2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
6 tablespoons (or more) ice water

6 large eggs
1 cup (packed) dark brown sugar
1 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
1 1/3 cups light corn syrup
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup bourbon (such as Maker’s Mark)
1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon peel
4 cups (about 16 ounces) pecan halves, toasted, very coarsely chopped


For crust:
Blend both flours, sugar, and salt in processor. Add butter; pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add lemon juice, then 6 tablespoons ice water; process just until moist clumps form, adding more ice water by teaspoonfuls if dough is dry. Divide dough in half. Gather each half into ball and flatten into disk. Wrap separately in plastic. Refrigerate at least 2 hours.

Do ahead: Can be made ahead and refrigerated up to 2 days or frozen up to 1 month. If frozen, thaw in refrigerator before using.

Roll out 1 dough disk on floured surface to 13 1/2- to 14-inch round, about 1/8 inch thick. Transfer dough to 9-inch-diameter glass pie dish. Trim excess dough, leaving 3/4-inch overhang. Turn overhang under and crimp edge decoratively. Repeat with second dough disk. Refrigerate while preparing filling.

For filling:
Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350°F. Whisk eggs in large bowl. Whisk in both sugars, then next 5 ingredients. Stir in pecans. Divide filling between prepared crusts.

Bake pies until filling is puffed and just set in center (filling may begin to crack), about 55 minutes. Cool pies completely on rack.

Do ahead: Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover with foil; store at room temperature.

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    • LB

      Hi Tracey, nice article.

      You’re right, a lot of bartenders really mess up the mint juleps. I’ve seen some add lime juice & even Sprite(!) thinking it is just a bastardized bourbon mojito.

      If you just use traditional ingredients (bourbon, mint, sugar, ice), the trick is to just not make it too sweet, otherwise it is cloying, and yes, like you said reminiscent of mouthwash.

      Happy Derby, and good luck with your picks if you place a bet!