Do Not Call This a “Derby Pie”

Cee Angi is a freelance writer who spent her formative (drinking) years in Kentucky, spending weekends riding her motorcycle and tasting her way through bourbon country. Follow Cee on Twitter, and read her thoughts on other topics like men and baseball at 

The Derby Pie was created in 1950 by the Melrose Inn in Prospect, Kentucky.  The creators, Walter and Leaudra Kern, had an idea to make a chocolate and walnut tart and created a cult classic in the state of Kentucky.  The quintessential Kentucky meal would be a shot of bourbon, a Hot Brown, and a slice of Derby Pie to wash it down, and the actual Derby celebration is no exception.

It should be noted that the Kerns’ Derby Pie is trademarked.  In fact, using the name Derby Pie for your creation might find you in court as the members of the Kern family religiously guard the trademark (and the recipe).  But what’s stemmed from this pie’s tradition are a variety of spin-off recipes, many of which I prefer to the Kerns’ original recipe.

It’s not unusual to walk into a restaurant in Louisville and be greeted by a pie on the menu that takes on a similar name, especially around Derby time.  Perhaps the most popular name is the Pegasus Pie.  (The Pegasus Parade is an event that leads up to the Derby.)  It’s also not unusual to have it referred to as May Pie (the Derby is the first weekend of May), or chocolate-bourbon-pecan-pie, which is essentially what the pie has become.

It’s taken me years to perfect my pie recipe.  This type of pie recipe is very individualized but the result is one of the richest, most delicious slices of pie you will ever eat.  It’s funny that a pie that combines chocolate, bourbon, and nuts hasn’t become more popular in the mainstream.  Whenever I mention this pie, I’m greeted with looks of confusion that quickly turn to looks of inquisitive happiness when I mention the ingredients.  Each time I describe it the same way: picture a pecan pie.  Now add some walnuts.  OK, now add a layer of chocolate—and oh, by the way, there’s bourbon (of course there is).

My recipe is one that was perfected in Louisville while making these pies frequently with a friend who wanted to open a bakery.  To my knowledge the bakery doesn’t yet exist, but the result is a recipe that I’m happy to share with people and has become my trademark contribution for Derby parties, Thanksgiving, Christmas, graduations, birthdays, or just because someone has a hankering for chocolate-bourbon-pie, which happens more than you’d think.  I hope you’ll enjoy a slice of the South, which goes great with some bourbon for sipping, or perhaps the bourbon ice cream that Rachel and Patrick created.

Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pie
½ (15-ounce) package refrigerated piecrusts
1½ cups chopped pecans
1 cup (6 ounces) semisweet chocolate morsels
1 cup dark corn syrup
½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup firmly packed brown sugar
¼ cup bourbon or water
4 large eggs
¼ cup butter or margarine, melted
2 tsp. cornmeal
2 tsp. vanilla extract
½ tsp. salt

Fit piecrust into a 9-inch deep-dish pie plate according to package directions; fold edges under, and crimp.

Sprinkle pecans and chocolate evenly onto bottom of piecrust; set aside.

Combine corn syrup and next three ingredients in a large saucepan, and bring to a boil over medium heat.  Cook, stirring constantly, for three minutes.  Remove from heat.

Whisk together eggs and next four ingredients.  Gradually whisk about one-fourth hot mixture into egg mixture; add to remaining hot mixture, whisking constantly.  Pour filling into prepared piecrust.

Bake at 325° for 55 minutes or until set; cool on wire rack.

May 7, 2012 | Comments | Permalink |

Tags: Kentucky Derby baking bourbon food whiskey desserts 

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