These brownies are inspired by my favorite pie which is Derby pie, of course! I extolled the virtues of this jacked up Southern pecan pie in an earlier post for my Not Derby Pie Milkshake. (Again, I want to be clear that there are NO WALNUTS in a Derby pie. ZERO.) A rich and chewy dark chocolate brownie layer spiked with bourbon is topped with toasted pecan halves and bourbon spiked caramel and chocolate sauces. A can’t miss recipe for lovers of chocolate, bourbon and/or the Kentucky Derby and all its related festivities. Like drinking bourbon. And eating pie. You’re welcome.
The Kentucky Derby is an annual race for 3-year-old Thoroughbred horses taking place at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky on the 1st Saturday in May. (This year it falls on my little sister’s 21st birthday!) The distance is 1 1/4 miles and the stakes are Grade 1. This year the purse is $2 million. Not bad for 2 minutes or less of work. The field size, or number of competing horses, is 20. (Most races average 8 horses per.) In order to participate in the Kentucky Derby, competitors must first travel the Road to the Kentucky Derby which consists of 35 races at tracks across the world. Points are awarded to the top 4 horses in each race, the 20 horses with the greatest number of points overall earn a spot in the Derby. The Kentucky Derby is also the 1st race in the Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Racing, followed by the Preakness and the Belmont.
The Kentucky Derby is the longest running sporting event in the United States, dating back to 1875. The race owes its legacy to Meriwether Lewis Clark (grandson of William Clark of the famed Lewis and Clark) who attended England’s Epsom Derby and met with the French Jockey Club. Upon his return to the US, Clark and his uncles John and Henry Churchill formed the Louisville Jockey Club which helped fund a permanent racetrack in Louisville. On May 17th, 1875 the racetrack opened and the club sponsored the 1st Kentucky Derby. 15 Thoroughbreds ran 1 1/2 miles in front of about 10,000 onlookers and Aristides was declared the winner.
Over time, the length of the race has shortened and the crowds have grown dramatically. Typically, the event draws 155,000 people. A number of traditions developed including mint juleps, unnecessarily fussy hats and the Kentucky Derby Festival. The Kentucky Derby Festival occurs in the days leading up to the main event and includes Thunder Over Louisville, one of the largest annual fireworks displays, a marathon, hot air balloon events, The Great Steamboat Race on the Ohio River and The Pegasus Parade.
Another important development was the garland of roses which appeared in some form as earlier as 1896, given to Ben Brush, and was introduced in its modern form in 1932, won by Burgoo King. Over 400 red roses are sewn into a green satin backing with the seal of the Commonwealth of Kentucky at one end and an image of Churchill Down’s Twin Spires and the race number on the other. Each garland includes a ‘crown,’ a single rose pointed toward the center of the garland symbolizing the struggle needed to reach the Winner’s Circle.
You know what would be really good with these brownies? The official drink of the Kentucky Derby, obviously. Mint juleps! Go classic or try one of these fun twists. I was going to include a non-alcoholic version but then I slapped myself in the face instead.
It is the very dream of drinks, the vision of sweet quaffings. The Bourbon and the mint are lovers. In the same land they live, on the same food they are fostered. – J. Soule Smith
More Derby desserts!
Derby Pie Brownies
6 tablespoons unsalted sweet cream butter
1/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
¼ cup bittersweet chocolate chips
3 tablespoons Kentucky bourbon
1 cup granulated white sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 cup white all-purpose flour
½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
¼ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
About 1 cup pecans halves
¼ cup caramel sauce (like for sundaes)
¼ cup bittersweet chocolate chips
2 tablespoons Kentucky bourbon
Preheat oven to 350° F.
Melt butter and chocolate together, stirring until smooth.
Quickly mix in bourbon.
Mix in sugar and eggs.
Sift or whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt.
Add to chocolate mixture.
Spread batter in greased 8” square pan. (This recipe makes tiny triangular wedges of brownie. For more giant try baking in an 8” round pan and cutting like a real pie. Check center with a pick after 15 minutes of bake time.)
Press pecan halves on top of batter.
Bake 18 to 20 minutes.
Cool in pan on wire rack for at least 2 hours.
Whisk caramel sauce and 1 tablespoon bourbon until smooth. (If your sauce is thicker, heating in the microwave for 30 seconds or so will make mixing easier.)
Spread over cooled brownies.
Melt chocolate and whisk in 1 tablespoon bourbon.
Spread over brownies.
Let sit for 2 hours or until set.
Cut square into thirds with two even vertical cuts. Repeat, making two horizontal cuts to create 9 squares. Cut each square in half diagonally creating 18 triangles.