Chocolate Walnut Bourbon Pie

You don’t have to be from Kentucky to go nutty over this Chocolate Walnut Bourbon Pie. 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 – except for this year. Because of Covid-19, this year’s race has been rescheduled for September.

Dubbed The Run for the Roses, because of the blanket of roses draped over the winning horse, it is also known as the “The most exciting two minutes in sports.” The Kentucky Derby is the first of three races that make up the American Triple Crown Races. Traditions that have become indelibly linked to it: knockout hats for the women, much like the Ascot Races; mint juleps; betting; the singing of ‘My Old Kentucky Home’; and bourbon chocolate walnut pie.

Now you might be forgiven for thinking that I am a) a gambler; b) interested in horses and horse racing or c) from Kentucky. Actually, none of the above. But I do so love a good pie. And while Thanksgiving in my family just wouldn’t count without my wonderful Bourbon Pecan Pie, I was curious to see how this pie would stack up.

It’s REALLY good. I mean seriously good. Now like another Southern favorite, pecan pie, it is sweet, but the Bourbon and my use of a 70% cacao chocolate chip cut through that sweetness so it wasn’t cloying – just delicious. Tradition calls for the pie to be eaten straight, but I won’t tell if you want to add a little whipped cream or vanilla ice cream when serving.

I make my own crust but if you use store-bought crust, this pie comes together in no time at all. So don’t wait until September or next May for the Kentucky Derby. Make this scrumptious Chocolate Walnut Bourbon Pie this week.

The recipe for the original “Derby Pie” is a secret and the name is trademarked. However, I found the recipe for this delicious Kentucky Derby Chocolate Walnut Pie here.


Yield: About 8 servings


  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs (lightly beaten)
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter (melted). Allow the butter to cool slightly.
  • 2 tablespoons Kentucky bourbon
  • 1 cup walnuts (chopped)
  • 1 1/4 cups semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Pinch kosher or sea salt
  • 1 un-baked pie crust (for 9-inch pie)


Heat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Place your dough in a 9-inch pie plate and ideally refrigerate it until you are ready to fill it.

Combine the flour and sugar in a bowl and then add the eggs and melted butter and mix to combine.

Stir in the remaining ingredients.

Pour into the unbaked pie shell and bake for 65 to 75 minutes or until the filling is set and the pastry is a lovely brown.

Allow to cool before serving. If you eat it as soon as it cools, the filling will still be ooey gooey. By the next day, the filling is totally set and will make very clean cuts. You can’t go wrong either way. This is primarily a chocolate pie with walnuts. It doesn’t beat my Bourbon Pecan Pie, in my humble opinion, but it is another great Southern pie.

Pistachio, Chocolate and Dried Cherries Tart

Valentine’s Day for some reason always means chocolate dessert for me.  Whether it’s a molten lava cake or a sachertorte or really any other chocolate dessert.  This would be great for this year’s weekday Valentine’s as it is easy to make ahead.


We found this recipe after watching the Food Network and much to my pleasant surprise, this ended up being one of those recipes turns out exactly as you would expect.  I might have had to go to two or three different grocery stores to find the ingredients (dried cherries in a pinch are at Trader Joe’s, though I’d recommend buying from if you have the time to plan ahead)!


This is a very rich dessert though, so wouldn’t recommend making for a crowd that is looking for lighter desserts.  On the other hand, if one of your crowd members is a dedicated chocolate enthusiast (ahem, Matthew) this is a winner!

Also, I might have called this a cake for the 4 days it was around before Matt finished it off, and was reminded multiple times that this is a TART not a CAKE.  Not that that in any way diminished from its deliciousness.


  • 1/2 stick unsalted butter, chilled, cut into 1/2-inch pieces, plus more for greasing pan
  • Eight 4 1/2-inch-long plain or almond biscotti cookies, coarsely broken (about 5 1/2 ounces)
  • 1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup cherry preserves or jam, such as Bonne Maman 
  • 12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips, such as Ghiradelli
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup dried cherries
  • 3/4 cup chopped shelled pistachio nuts
  • Salt flakes, such as Maldon, optional

For the crust: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter the bottom and sides of a 9-inch springform pan. Combine the biscotti, butter and sugar in a food processor. Blend until the mixture forms moist crumbs that stick together when pressed. Firmly press the crumbs into the bottom of the prepared pan. Bake until golden and feels firm to the touch, about 15 minutes. Cool to room temperature, about 20 minutes. Spread the cherry preserves over the cooled crust leaving a 1/2 to 1-inch border.

For the filling: Place the chocolate chips in a medium bowl. Heat the cream in a medium saucepan over medium heat to just below a boil. Remove the pan from the heat and pour the cream over the chocolate chips. Stir until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth. Add the dried cherries and 1/2 cup of the pistachios. Pour the chocolate filling over the cherry preserves and sprinkle the remaining 1/4 cup pistachios on top. Refrigerate for at least 5 hours or preferably overnight.

Loosen the tart from the sides of the pan by running a thin metal spatula around the edge. Unmold the tart and transfer to a serving plate. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt flakes, if using. Cut into wedges and serve.

Pot de Crème

Some years ago, Matt and I participated in “Tasting on the Wine Road” where over 100 wineries in the Healdsburg region (in Northern Sonoma, California) offered tastes of their wines paired with something to munch on.  Offerings ranged from very rich cheese fondues paired with bold reds, and salmon teriyaki paired with crisp white wines.  We collected our free cook books that documented all the wines we had the option to taste and all the foods that had been paired, and after a solid day of eating and tasting, concluded that this was one of favorite places to vacation.


A little later while leafing through the book, we came across this recipe for Pot de Crème from a winery that we were members at, but had not stopped at for the Wine Road day.  But given how much we liked Truett Hurst Winery (both for their wines and the beautifully rustic property where we’ve whiled away a day in the sun), we knew the recipe must be delicious, and so it was!  It’s turned into my favorite company dessert since it can be made ahead, and looks beautiful in presentation with a raspberry or two on top and a little bit of whipped cream or “schlag” as we love to call it.  The flavors for this are incredibly dense and delicious.


1 cup Zinfandel (they recommend their Red Rooster Zinfandel)
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
pinch of nutmeg
1/8 tsp clove
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 tbsp brown sugar
8 oz semisweet or dark chocolate chips
4 egg yolks
2 tsp smoked Maldon sea salt (optional)

raspberries and whipped cream (optional for garnish)


Place the Zinfandel and the spices in a small saucepan and reduce by half.  Whisk in the cream, bring to a simmer, cover and turn off the heat.

In a small double boiler, melt the chocolate with the brown sugar, stirring to combine.  Whisk in the warm cream mixture.

Beat the egg yolks in a small bowl, and add in 4 tbsp of the chocolate mixture, 1 tbsp at a time, whisking throughout each addition.  Whisk the tempered yolks into the chocolate on the double boiler and continue to cook, whisking, for 5 more minutes over low heat.

Strain the mixture through a fine mesh strainer into a small pitcher.

Pour into 1/2 cup ramekins (should be enough for 8).  Allow to cool for 10 minutes.  Sprinkle 1/2 tsp of salt (optional) and allow to cool for 4-6 hours until set (better if overnight).

Serve with whipped cream and raspberries (optional).

From Tasting Along the Wine Road Cookbook, volume 15, recipe from Chef Peter Brown, Jimtown Store

Lemon Olive Oil Bread with Chocolate

While looking for a good olive oil bread recipe, I came across this one from Smitten Kitchen that gave guidance for how a baker could make all sorts of substitutions to end up with slightly different and delicious variations on a good olive oil bread.


It sounded a bit like mix and match and so I had fun crossing out certain ingredients and adding others… and the result was actually quite good.  I liked the idea of using olive oil to make the bread, and I loved the idea of adding chocolate, because who doesn’t love chocolate.


1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest (approximately 2 lemons)
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup olive oil (I used lemon olive oil)
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips (I probably could have doubled this)
2 tsp rum

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease an 8 1/2 by 4 1/4 by 2 1/2-inch loaf pan. Line the bottom with parchment paper. Grease and flour the pan.

Sift together 1 1/2 cups flour, baking powder, and salt into 1 bowl. In another bowl, whisk together the yogurt, 1 cup sugar, the eggs, lemon zest, vanilla, and rum and oil. Slowly whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. Fold the chocolate chips in.  Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 50 (+) minutes, or until a cake tester placed in the center of the loaf comes out clean.

When the cake is done, allow it to cool in the pan for 10 minutes before flipping out onto a cooling rack. Carefully place on a baking rack over a sheet pan. Cool.

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen lemon yogurt anything cake.

Molten Chocolate Cakes for Two

Oftentimes I look at recipes for dessert and get really excited about making these large, elaborate cakes until I realize that there are only two people eating it.  Which of course means, either I need to commit to a lot of chocolate cake eating contests or something out of Matilda.


Thankfully I happened to come across this wonderful blog that specifically makes desserts for two.  I modified it a bit because I wanted to use dark chocolate.  The cakes turned out delicious, though I think I’d panicked and baked them a smidge too much when I thought they were undercooked.  As it turned out, when I did it again in round 2, 13-14 minutes was perfect to get a runny center.  Just be 100% sure to butter the ramekins or custard cups you use to make sure the cake will easily plop out.

Regardless, the result was deliciously chocolatey.


  • 1 /2 stick (4 tbsp) unsalted butter
  • 3 ounces bittersweet chocolate
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour


  1. Preheat the oven to 425°. Spray two small (~6 oz) custard cups liberally with cooking spray or rub with butter.  (Make sure to do this as otherwise the cakes just won’t “flop” out.)
  2. Melt butter and chocolate in a double boiler over low heat until the mixture is homogenous.
  3. In a separate medium sized bowl, whisk eggs, sugar, and vanilla using an electric hand-held mixer until thick ribbons form, about 3 minutes.
  4. Fold the flour into this mixture, and then the chocolate. Divide between the two custard cups and bake for 13-14 minutes, until the tops of the cakes look well done. If you under-bake, the center of the cake will pour out the top when un-molding.
  5. Let stand for one minute before inverting onto plates.

Adapted from Food and Wine Molten Chocolate Cakes and Dessert for Two.

Chocolate cupcakes – pssssst! they’re vegan!

Chocolste cupcake

I have two absolutely wonderful godchildren and I love to cook and bake for them. Unfortunately, one of them is deathly allergic to eggs. On top of this, his family keeps Kosher, so I am always challenged to come up with wonderful desserts that are safe for him and taste and look wonderful to everyone else – including adults. After a lot of searching, I was fortunate to come across The Food Allergy Mama’s Baking Book by Kelly Rudnicki and available at Amazon. I always tweak the recipes because I am incapable of not doing that; however, if you just follow them exactly they will come out fine.

Tonight the children are coming to sleep-over and give their parents some well-deserved alone time. My goddaughter gave me her desired menu and it includes pizza that my husband makes with the children and chocolate cupcakes. In the interest of time – and knowing the attention span of 5 and 6 year-olds – I baked the cupcakes this morning and we will make the frosting and decorate them together when they arrive. This same recipe can be used to make two 8-inch round cakes for layer cake. You will be amazed at how super-moist and chocolaty these are.

Chocolate Cupcakes and Frosting – Adapted from The Food Allergy Mama’s Baking Book by Kelly Rudnicki

Yields: 18 cupcakes or two 8-inch round cakes for layer cake


1/2 cup dairy-free shortening (I like Earth Balance brand . And of course, if you don’t care about being Vegan or keeping Kosher, feel free to use real unsalted butter.)

1.5 cups dairy-free “buttermilk” (I use Vanilla Soy that I have added about 1.5 Tablespoons of distilled vinegar to. You let it sit for at least 5-10 minutes and voila! you have a good buttermilk substitute for any recipe. If you prefer to use rice or almond milk it likely will work – I just never have done it.)

2 Tablespoons strong coffee (Don’t worry about the caffeine — the difference in how great the chocolate tastes is essential. Instant espresso works if you don’t make or have your own brewed coffee on hand.)

1 Teaspoon real vanilla extract

2 cups cake flour (I happen to like King Arthur unbleached cake flour but you can use other brands)

1.5 cups granulated sugar (I always store my sugar in a big glass jar with a couple of vanilla beans tucked inside.)

2/3 cup good-quality, unsweetened cocoa powder (I like to use Rodelle which I buy through Amazon)

1.5 Teaspoons baking soda

1/2 Teaspoon salt


  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Line 18 cupcake (muffin tins) with paper liners. (If making the cakes, spray two pans with a non-dairy spray like Pam and then line the bottoms with a round of parchment or waxed paper. Spray the bottom again and set aside.)
  2. In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the shortening, “buttermilk”, coffee and vanilla and beat until thoroughly mixed. Unless your shortening is quite soft, it won’t totally mix, but don’t worry – it all will work out.
  3. In a separate medium bowl, combine all of the dry ingredients and with a whisk mix them thoroughly to distribute the ingredients.
  4. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the shortening mixture with the machine on low. Once mostly blended, turn the machine to high and beat for 4 minutes, scraping the sides occasionally.
  5. Using a scoop or small measuring cup, fill the paper cupcake liners evenly and bake for 20 – 25 minutes (mine took 23 minutes but all ovens are different) or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes and then carefully place the cupcakes on wire racks to finish cooling. Cool completely before frosting. IMAG0479

Chocolate Frosting – Yields 2 cups


1 cup dairy-free shortening (I use Earth Balance “butter” flavored)

1/2 cup good quality, unsweetened cocoa powder

1/4 cup of dairy-free “milk” (I use vanilla soy and substitute about 1 Tablespoon with strong coffee to really bring up the chocolate flavor and to cut any cloying sweetness.)

1 Teaspoon real vanilla extract

1/8 Teaspoon salt

2 cups confectioners’ sugar


In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the shortening and cocoa powder until smooth. Add the soy milk/coffee, vanilla and salt and mix thoroughly. SLOWLY add in the confectioners’ sugar, mixing on low for 1 minute until all of the confectioners’ sugar has been mixed with the shortening. Increase the speed to medium and beat for 6 minutes until very light and fluffy. This will keep in the fridge overnight, but you will have to let it soften a bit before spreading.

Vanilla Frosting – Yields 2 cups

Make exactly as you would the chocolate frosting but leave out the cocoa powder and coffee. Add the zest of one large lemon. A few drops of vegetable-based food coloring can be added to this frosting to make it any color you would like.

For strawberry frosting, just add a few sliced up strawberries before the final whipping.