Saturday, May 2, 2009

Talk Derby (Pie) To Me!
So, unless you've been living under a rock, you're aware of the fact that today was the running of the 135th Kentucky Derby. And here in Kentucky (very near Louisville), it's kind of a big deal. One of the many culinary Derby traditions (second only to the mint julep), is the Derby Pie, which you may not know is actually copyrighted by Kern's Kitchen. They are the only folks who can make "Derby Pie" and the recipe is a closely guarded secret. But that doesn't stop us from looking for a copycat! There are tons of Derby Pie recipes out there, and the best one I've ever had is the one my stepmom, Theresa, makes. But I forgot to get her recipe in time to use it for the Derby Party that I went to today. I checked around on the Internet last night and found a pretty good substitute. I've learned from experience that when people are at a party where they'll be grazing on food all day long that they're not going to sit down and eat a whole piece of pie or cake. If you take a whole pie or cake to one of these type events, it's going to look great, but it will just languish on the counter while people eat chips or cookies. So I decided to make mini-Derby Pies. Little two-bite pies, if you will. Of course, I used Dorie's pie crust recipe, because it's unbeatable.
Here's a shot of my floury countertop with the mini-muffin pan lined with Dorie's pie crust. The first batch I made was a wreck. They tasted great, but I was still working out the kinks. By the time I got this batch done, I was on fire. The secret was to roll out the pie crust 1/16" thick, then to use only a teaspoon of the filling. That gives you pretty much the perfect mini-pie crust to filling ratio. On the first batch, the crust was still kind of doughy and there was too much crust for the filling. But this is perfect.
Here are the filled mini-crusts. The filling kind of reminds me of chocolate chip cookie dough. It's good straight off the spoon. YUM! I was hoping you'd get a better shot of the chocolate chip and walnut chunks peeking out of the dough, but not so much. I really need to work on my food photography skills. But at least I was cooking in the morning on this project, instead of starting at about 8:30 at night.
Here's a shot of a portion of the mini-Derby Pies. The later batches turned out much better...they actually looked like mini-pies instead of muffins.
I made 6 dozen of these Derby pies this morning. I just realized that. I thought I made 3 dozen. Then, while I was adding these pictures, I realized that my mini-muffin tin holds 24 mini-muffins. I filled up the muffin tin 3 times. That's SIX DOZEN DERBY PIES. Holy crap. I came home with about a dozen and a half. I think they were a hit!

So, for those of you who have never had had a Derby pie...are you wondering what they taste like? Luckily, at the party, we had two of the real deal Derby Pies...from Kern's Kitchen. I had one of my three loyal readers, Jason, do a side-by-side taste test. He said that the Kern's Kitchen pie had more of a "pie filling" texture, which I would describe as a chess pie-type filling with chocolate chips and walnuts. He said my mini-pies had a kind of "chocolate-chip cookie dough" texture, which he said was more desireable. So I don't know which would win in a throwdown...probaby Kern's real Derby Pie. But Jason's pretty partial to sweets of any kind. But to only come home with a dozen and a half of the original 6 dozen pies tells me I'm on to something! Want the recipe?

Derby Pie (Shhh...Don't Tell Kern's Kitchen!)
Adapted from a recipe by Starry News from Recipezaar
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup flour
2 eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup chocolate chips
3/4 cup walnuts
Enough crust for a 9-inch pie
Combine the butter, sugar, flour, eggs, vanilla, chocolate chips, and walnuts. Mix well.
Roll out pie dough to 1/16" thickness and cut with a small biscuit cutter to a size that will fit your mini-muffin tin. Fill each mini crust with 1 tsp. filling. It will look skimpy, but I promise, it's just right. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes, turning once during baking. Serve slightly warm so the chocolate chips will be melty, but they're really good at room temperature, too.
* I doubled the recipe to get 6 dozen mini-pies. The amount listed above will also make 1 traditional sized Derby pie.

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