Kentucky derby pie makes for scary good Halloween treat

Photo By: Alex Trunnell.
Photo By: Alex Trunnell.
Photo By: Alex Trunnell.

It’s Halloween night. Your neighbors have pulled over their lawn chairs, the bowls of candy are ready, and the fire pit is stocked with kindling and logs. Your parents wear their half-costumes, and push you out the door. Your evening has been meticulously planned to hit all the best houses in three different neighborhoods, and your petticoats promise a warm evening. You are prepared. You are infinite.

And you know in your heart that no matter what kind of delicious candy the most cavity-inducing day of the year brings, there is a Kentucky Derby Pie cooling in the kitchen. Pie is prepared. Pie is infinite.

In general, pies are best served fresh out of the oven. However, in the land of horses and bourbon, we like to do things differently, including creating a pie best served when’s it’s as cool as the historic Derby itself. Thus, it is absolutely perfect for Halloween night: bake it, get ready, leave it to cool, and you have perfect pie as soon as the candy has been collected.

This unique quality is due to the special structure of the pie: It’s a sugar pie, which if y’all don’t know means it is created almost exclusively of molten sugar. Nope, not kidding. Southern families have the best baking ideas… Heart attacks aside, sugar pie is the greatest idea since someone tossed breaded chicken in a fryer.

So, to create the perfect sugar pie base, begin your culinary endeavor by preheating the oven to 350 degrees. As any baker knows, Kentucky born and bred or not, this is absolutely vital. You know what they say: oven’s warm, perfect form, oven’s cold, it won’t hold.

Begin with a pie shell. Now, this is quite possibly the only time I will ever say this in my life, but a store-bought one is fine. In fact, considering the time you save (imperative on a holiday such as Halloween), the difference in taste between store-bought pie shells and homemade is barely noticeable. Put the shell in a greased pie pan and, using a fork, squish the excess pie crust into the rim of the pan in a crimped pattern. Then, stab the bottom of the shell with the fork as if it were the man who done you wrong. This allows the shell to bake evenly. Or not stick to the pan.

Melt half a cup of butter (“one stick” to you and me) in a microwave safe bowl. Use real butter. I’m not even gonna press the issue further. Just do it. Once the butter is melted, cream it together with three-quarters of a cup of white sugar in a mixing bowl. Mix until the two are blended well. Then, mix in half a cup of all-purpose flour.

In a separate bowl, beat two eggs. Don’t overbeat them; just enough to let the yolk and white get to know each other. Mix them into the bowl with the other ingredients.

Now listen up, because this is the most important part of the entire recipe: Mix in one tablespoon of Kentucky Bourbon. It has to come from Kentucky to maintain the integrity of the recipe. In reality, this shouldn’t be too difficult: there are more barrels of bourbon in Kentucky than there are people.

Now, with the mixture all nice and combined, chop one cup of walnuts. When they are chopped to the desired size, mix them into the pie base. Note: this is optional, though highly recommended, as it is delicious. Along with the nuts, add a cup of chocolate chips. Or four cups. We don’t judge when it comes to pie.

Make sure the pie filling is well mixed, and pour it into the prepared shell. Use a rubber spatula to scrape the edges: heaven forbid you leave even a morsel in the mixing bowl.

Bake for thirty to forty minutes, checking on the pie occasionally. The top will become a crust, and the inside will become soupy and crystalized and melted by the time the timer rings.

Now, if it’s Halloween night, this is when you go trick-or-treating and let the pie cool. The key to Derby Pie, other than, of course, the bourbon, is to let the pie cool: because of the magic soup inside the hard sugar crust, cutting the pie when hot will prove a fatal mistake. The filling seeps out of the crust and ruins the whole pie. Seriously y’all: don’t do it.

Now, cut into that round circle of heaven and devour the enticingly flawless piece of pie.

 The Recipe

pie shell

1/2 cup of butter

3/4 cup of white sugar

1/2 cup of flour

2 eggs

1 tblspn. Kentucky Bourbon

1 cup of chopped walnuts

1+ cups of chocolate chips

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