Derby desserts: Seven ways to gallop toward a sweet finish

LEXINGTON, Ky. -- As the first Saturday in May approaches, cooks are putting together menus for Derby parties.

At the top of the dessert list is typically a Derby Pie. But unless the divine chocolate nut pie is made by Kern's Kitchen Inc. in Louisville, the cook can't call it that. Kern's holds the trademark.

Derby Pie was created in 1954 by Walter and Leaudra Kern as the specialty pastry of the Melrose Inn in Prospect, Ky., in Oldham County. Legend has it that this "Oldham" pie is the original Derby Pie and that it came from Leaudra Kern, who shared it with her homemaker friends many years ago. The name had to be changed, but cooks in the area claim to have the original recipe.

The Oldham pie was made with margarine (not butter), sugar, eggs, light corn syrup, salt, vanilla, chocolate chips, black walnuts and bourbon. It was served warm with whipped cream.

The Derby Pie recipe is a secret, although the ingredient label on the box lists granulated sugar, margarine, walnuts, eggs, semisweet chocolate, flour, butter and vanilla.

We decided to take those same ingredients and make some other tasty desserts - and call them anything Derby-related that we like.

We took butter, sugar, eggs, light corn syrup, bourbon (or bourbon vanilla), chocolate chips, black walnuts (or pecans), vanilla and whipping cream (the traditional garnish), and came up with seven desserts: pie (Derby City Chocolate Pecan Pie); cake (Bet on This Bourbon Cake); dessert bars (Wager Squares); cookies (Twin Spires Chocolate Chip Cookies); torte (Winner's Circle Torte), brownies (Trifecta Brownies), and a dessert sauce (Racing Silks Chocolate Sauce)


For the crust

  • 9-inch unbaked pie crust

For the filling

  • 1 cup light corn syrup
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup butter, melted
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon bourbon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup pecan halves
  • 1/2 cup real semi-sweet chocolate chips

For garnish

1 1/3 cups whipping cream

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Place crust into 9-inch pie pan. Crimp or flute edge; set aside.

Combine corn syrup, sugar, butter, eggs, bourbon and salt in large bowl. Beat at medium speed, scraping bowl often, until well mixed. Stir in 1 cup pecans and 1/2 cup chocolate chips.

Pour into prepared pie crust. Cover pie loosely with aluminum foil. Bake 30 minutes. Remove aluminum foil; continue baking 10 to 15 minutes, or until filling is set. (If pie browns too quickly, re-cover with aluminum foil.) Cool; refrigerate at least 4 hours or until serving time.

Just before serving, beat whipping cream in small bowl at high speed, scraping bowl often, until stiff peaks form. Garnish pie with whipped cream.

- Lexington Herald-Leader

  • 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs, separated
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 tablespoons bourbon
  • 2 cups flour, sifted
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 cup pecans, chopped

For the chocolate icing

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa, sifted
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 tablespoons bourbon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 pound confectioners' sugar, sifted
  • 3 tablespoons hot milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt bittersweet chocolate in double boiler, cool and set aside. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar; add melted chocolate. Slowly add beaten egg yolks, vanilla and bourbon. Sift flour 3 times and mix with baking powder and salt. Alternately add flour mixture and milk to chocolate mixture (beginning and ending with flour). Fold in nuts. Beat egg whites until stiff, and gently fold into mixture. Pour into 2 greased and wax paper-lined 9-inch cake pans. Bake for 35 minutes or until done. Frost with chocolate icing.

To make icing: Combine first 6 ingredients; beat until smooth and satiny. Stir in sugar and hot milk as needed, a small amount at a time, until very smooth and of spreading consistency. Makes 12 servings.

- Lexington Herald-Leader


To make bourbon vanilla, slash 2 whole vanilla beans lengthwise and place in a jar. Pour 1 cup bourbon over the vanilla beans, cover, and store for a month or two before using. Discard the beans before using.

For the crust

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch
  • 3/4 cup butter
  • For the filling
  • 1 1/4 cups light corn syrup
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 4 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons bourbon vanilla extract (see note)
  • 6 ounces (1 1/2 cups) pecans, chopped
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

To make crust: Combine flour, sugar and cornstarch in a large bowl. Cut in butter until crumbly. Press into greased 13- by 9-inch pan. Bake 15 minutes, until edges are lightly browned.

To make filling: Stir together corn syrup, sugar, eggs, salt and bourbon vanilla in a large bowl until blended. Add pecans and chocolate chips.

Pour into crust and bake 35 minutes, until filling is firm around the edges and slightly soft in center. Cool completely, about 2 hours, before cutting into bars. Makes 24 bars.

- Lexington Herald-Leader

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 sticks butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted
  • 1/4 cup dark corn syrup
  • 1 teaspoon bourbon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine flour, baking soda and salt in a small bowl; set aside.

Beat butter, sugar and egg in a large bowl at medium speed until light and fluffy. Beat in melted chocolate, corn syrup and bourbon vanilla. Reduce speed to low; gradually add flour mixture until well mixed. Stir in chocolate chips. Drop dough by rounded tablespoons 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheets.

Bake 9 to 11 minutes until edges are set (center will still appear soft). Cool 2 minutes on cookie sheets; remove to wire racks to finish cooling.

- Lexington Herald-Leader


For the crust

  • 1 3/4 cups very finely chopped pecans
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted

For the filling

  • 2 cups whipping cream
  • 16 ounces real semi-sweet chocolate chips

For garnish

  • 1 1/3 cups whipping cream

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

To make crust: Stir together crust ingredients in medium bowl. Firmly press on bottom and up sides of 10-inch tart pan with removable bottom. Place tart pan onto baking sheet. Bake 15 to 18 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool completely.

To make filling: Heat 2 cups whipping cream in 2-quart saucepan over medium heat until mixture just comes to a boil (5 to 8 minutes). Remove from heat; stir in chocolate until completely melted (2 to 3 minutes). Pour into cooled crust. Refrigerate until set (at least 2 hours)

Just before serving, beat 1 1/3 cups whipping cream in small bowl at high speed, scraping bowl often, until stiff peaks form. Garnish torte with whipped cream.

- Lexington Herald-Leader


For the brownies

  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon bourbon vanilla
  • 1/2 cups butter, melted
  • 3/4 cup cocoa
  • 2/3 cups unsifted self-rising flour
  • 1/2 cups walnuts, chopped
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

For the topping

  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup light corn syrup
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • Pinch salt
  • 1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups pecans, chopped

To make brownies: Preheat oven to 350 degrees Using a spoon, stir eggs with sugar and vanilla; add butter. Sift cocoa with flour. Stir into egg mixture; add nuts. Stir in chips. Spread into greased square pan. (For extra-chewy brownies, use 8-inch pan and less baking time. For cakelike brownies, use 9-inch pan and longer baking time.) Bake 20 to 30 minutes. Cut into squares.

To make topping: In a 3-quart saucepan, bring sugar, corn syrup, water and salt to a boil. Cook until mixture turns a golden caramel. Remove pan from heat, and slowly add cream and vanilla. Quickly stir in pecans, then pour over brownies. Cool on rack. Chill brownies, covered, until caramel is firm, about 2 hours.

- Lexington Herald-Leader

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon bourbon vanilla extract

Mix sugar and chocolate chips in medium saucepan. Stir in milk, corn syrup and cream.

Cook over medium heat, stirring to dissolve sugar, until mixture boils. Boil for 6 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from heat; stir in bourbon vanilla. Makes 2 1/4 cups. Serve over pound cake or ice cream.

- Lexington Herald-Leader

Sharon Thompson is food editor of the Lexington Herald-Leader: , 859-231-03321 or 1-800-950-6397


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