The Kentucky Derby is the most legendary of all American thoroughbred horse races. It takes place every year at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky, on the first Saturday in May. The Run for the Roses is the longest-running sporting event in the United States, dating to 1875, and immediately brings to mind traditions that have become indelibly linked to it: knockout hats for the women, a reference to the era in which it originated; mint juleps; betting; the singing of "My Old Kentucky Home"; a blanket of roses for the winning horse, which gave the race its alternate name; celebrities -- and bourbon chocolate walnut pie.
George Kern made up the recipe for the pie when he was the manager of the Melrose Inn in Prospect, Kentucky, with the help of his parents, and it became its specialty pastry. The name "Derby Pie" has been trademarked by the Kern family, which is extremely vigilant about unauthorized use. The Kerns' recipe is a secret, but this one is similar to the Melrose Inn's famous version, which has been a tradition at the race since the mid-1950s. Bourbon chocolate walnut pie is similar to another iconic Southern dessert, pecan pie, but with walnuts and chocolate, and that extra kick, thanks to Kentucky straight bourbon whiskey. Just right for an all-weekend party for what's known as "the most exciting two minutes in sports."
- Preheat the oven to 350 F.
- Combine the flour and sugar in a mixing bowl. Add the eggs and butter and mix to combine. Stir in the bourbon, walnuts, chocolate chips, vanilla, and salt.
- Pour the mixture into the unbaked pie crust. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until the filling is set. Set the pie on a wire rack and let cool before slicing.
Serve in all its bare glory if you are a purist about tradition. Or top with a big spoonful of whipped cream or whipped cream glammed up with chocolate chips and walnuts, either chips or a large one for garnish, if you like more embellishment with your dessert. Vanilla ice cream on top is always a good choice for just about any kind of pie, and the contrast of textures of chocolate walnut pie and smooth ice cream is especially delicious.