It’s Derby Week! Yes, the Kentucky Derby is one of the fastest sporting events, clocking in at around two minutes, but it’s oh so much fun, even if you simply watch on TV with a few friends. If you
do decide to host a viewing party, be sure to include mint juleps (see our recipe for the hands down best way to pump up the mint flavor), and Hot Browns, (a turkey sandwich fancied up with mouthwatering Mornay sauce and then topped with tomatoes, bacon and Pecorino Romano cheese). The traditional sweet finish is Bourbon Pecan Pie but if you want the same flavors in an easier to eat form, try these Chocolate Chip, Bourbon Pecan Bars. The shortbread cookie crust is a great base for the bourbon-laced filling.
Can’t make it to the Kentucky Derby? Don’t fret. You can take a variety of different tours of Churchill Downs after the crowds disperse.
Chocolate Chip, Bourbon Pecan Bars
For Cookie Crust:
- 1 cup flour
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, cold, cut into small pieces
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
- 2/3 cup brown sugar
- 2 eggs
- 2 tablespoons bourbon
- 6 tablespoons flour
- 3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 3/4 cup chopped pecans
For cookie crust: In the bowl of food processer, add flour, salt, and sugar. Add butter pieces and process until dough forms. Press into bottom of a greased 8X8 pan, being sure to add about a quarter of an inch around the sides of the pan. Bake for 15 minutes in a 350 degree oven or just until cookie crust begins to brown. Remove and let stand.
For filling: In the bowl of a stand mixer with paddle attachment, add butter and brown sugar. Mix until creamed. Add eggs and bourbon, mix until incorporated. Add flour, chocolate chips and pecans. Mix until just incorporated. Pour filling on top of cookie crust and smooth to the edges. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 20-25 minutes until filling is firm and top is light golden brown. Cool completely before cutting.
Connecticut’s unofficial nickname is the Nutmeg State. This comes from the alleged practice, in the 18th and 19th centuries, of shrewd Yankee peddlers who sold unsuspecting customers wooden nutmegs instead of real ones. Then again, some claim that certain less
culinary-inclined customers might not have realized that whole nutmeg (which indeed looks like a little wooden bead) needed to be grated to be used. Swindlers or not, the moniker stuck.
We consider ourselves to be cookie connoisseurs but we had never even heard of these Nutmeg Logs until a few weeks ago. They use a generous amount of nutmeg and make your house smell like all kinds of Christmas when you bake them. And nothing goes better with nutmeg than eggnog, thus the eggnog icing. The fun part is running the fork tines over the icing before it sets to create a log effect.
Visit the Mark Twain house in Hartford, a terrific example of American High Gothic style, where Twain lived from 1874 to 1891. One writer has described this house as “part steamboat, part medieval fortress and part cuckoo clock.”
Nutmeg Log Cookies with Eggnog Icing
- 1 cup butter, softened
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon nutmeg
- 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup butter, softened
- 2 3/4 cups confectioners sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1-2 tablespoons eggnog
- Ground nutmeg for topping
For the cookies:
In the bowl of the electric mixer, add butter and sugar. Mix on medium speed until fluffy and light. Add egg and nutmeg. Mix until just combined. Add flour. Mix until incorporated. Take batter and divide into thirds. On a lightly floured surface, form dough into three logs approximately ½ inch in diameter. Cut each log into 3 inch pieces. Place on baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake at 350 degrees for 12 minutes or until cookies just begin to brown.
For the icing:
In the bowl of an electric mixer, add butter and confectioner’s sugar. Mix on medium speed. Add vanilla, then 1 tablespoon eggnog. If icing is too thick, add another tablespoon of eggnog until desired consistency is reached.
Once cookies are completely cooled, spread icing on cookies. Run the tines of a fork over the icing to make the “log.” Top with grated nutmeg. Let icing set before packaging cookies.
Definitely a mistake. A mistake turned delicious anyway. Gooey Butter Cake is to St. Louis as deep dish pizza is to Chicago. According to the New York Times, fork-lore has it that in the 1930s,
a St. Louis baker added too much shortening, butter or sugar while making a cake. Not wanting to waste the ingredients this being the middle of the Depression, the baker tried to sell the cake anyhow. Customers loved it and Gooey Butter Cake was born.
Continue reading Ooey, Gooey, From St. Louie: Gooey Butter Cake – Missouri
Indiana is pie country and Hoosiers are serious about their pastry. In 2009, the Indiana legislature declared sugar cream pie — also called Hoosier pie — as the official state pie of Indiana. Pies of this type, also known as desperation pies, were created when folks had to make do with whatever ingredients they had on hand. This delicious custardy concoction of very unpretentious ingredients probably dates back to the 1850s and might have the Amish or Quakers to thank. Both groups historically have had strong representation in the state. Even today, Indiana has the world’s third largest population for Amish. Lots of variations of this pie exist, but we liked this recipe as the filling stays firm and tends not to weep. Yup, sometimes simple is best.
Continue reading Give Mama Some Sugar … Sugar Cream Pie – Indiana