We may not have front row seats, a horse we’re bidding on, or elegant hats to wear to the Kentucky Derby this year, but we do have the perfect dessert choices to accompany the most exciting 2 minutes in sports. At the end of the day, any event that can draw a crowd of 150,000 people deserves to be honored with something as exciting—so we’re going for something sweet. Here are our top dessert picks to serve at your Kentucky Derby party.
A good Thoroughbred pie features a soft, very sweet filling studded with walnuts and chocolate chips that sits under a sugary, crackly crust. We based our version on the recipe that was developed by the Kern family at their inn in Prospect, Kentucky, in 1954. Recipes for thoroughbred pie abound, but their recipe is known as the standard-bearer. It is a closely guarded family secret, but we think our version is equally winning. And we're not afraid to share our secret: It's browned butter.
Thoroughbred PieWhat better way to top off the Kentucky Derby than with a slice of chocolate-walnut-bourbon pie? None, as long as you rein in the runaway sweetness.
For generations of Southerners, Lane cake on the table signifies a major event, which is why we think it's perfect for a Kentucky Derby party. This tall, fluffy, snow-white cake is filled with a rich, sweet mixture of egg yolks, butter, and raisins, and "a wine glass full of sweet whiskey" as the original recipe puts it. That recipe, which won first prize at a county fair more than 100 years ago, is credited to Emma Rylander Lane. (The cake became even more famous when Harper Lee referred to it in To Kill a Mockingbird.) Traditional Lane cake requires a lot of work, so for our version we streamlined the frosting, filling, and cake layers. Watch the video below to learn how to make it.
Mint Julep Cake
A Mint Julep is the signature cocktail of the Kentucky Derby. It features fresh mint muddled with sugar or simple syrup, a hefty pour of bourbon, and crushed ice—and it's traditionally served in a specific vessel known as a julep cup. While we're happy just sipping on Mint Juleps on Derby day, we like the flavor so much that we developed a Mint Julep Cake for the festivities. Our cake starts with a classic yellow Bundt cake batter to which we add mint-infused bourbon and minced mint. When the cake comes out of the oven, we brush it with a brown sugar syrup that we flavor with more of the mint-infused bourbon. We finish it off with a sweet bourbon glaze and sugared mint leaves so every component of the cake is flavored with the bourbon and mint.
Mint Julep CakePlace your bets on this lightly boozy Derby-day treat.
Bourbon Praline Cake
Our Bourbon Praline Cake is a stunning layer cake inspired by the Kentucky Derby. It sports a winning combination of bourbon, brown sugar, and pecans. The bourbon is baked into the cake layers, as well as brushed on top and mixed into the brown sugar frosting. Candied pecans and a ring of frosting rosettes add a finishing touch worthy of the Triple Crown.
Bourbon Praline CakeInspired by the Kentucky Derby, this bourbon-laced cake sports a winning combination of bourbon, brown sugar, and pecans. A ring of rosettes adds a finishing touch worthy of the Triple Crown.
Because bourbon tends to star at Kentucky Derby parties, we have one more bourbon-infused treat for the occasion: Bourbon Balls. These boozy, bite-size treats are no-bake and make-ahead. The combination of vanilla wafers, toasted pecans, confectioners' sugar, bourbon, corn syrup, and cocoa comes together quickly. Then it's just a matter of shaping the mixture into balls, rolling them in granulated sugar, and refrigerating them for an hour. If you're the type who likes to throw no-fuss parties, this recipe is for you.
Bourbon BallsThese Bourbon balls make a great treat at holiday parties.
We wager that these elegant treats will be neck and neck for first place at your Kentucky Derby party.