In two days, I’ll be celebrating my fourth wedding anniversary. Yes, I already know what you’re thinking. You think I’m going to spend the next few paragraphs spouting about marriage, right? About love. About how my husband is the best, or how married life is hard, or about any number of silly things that I may have learned over the course of the past four years. Well, joke’s on you! Today we’re talking all about these derby pie bars.
Our Kentucky Wedding
Brett and I got married on my grandparent’s farm in Kentucky the week before The Derby. It was a small, outdoor ceremony on a private corner of the farm’s rolling green hills. I shivered through the ceremony, half nervous, half chilled from the wet air that blew on that gray day. We said “I Do,” tried not to make out in front of all of our friends and family, and headed to the reception which took place in a tobacco barn a short walk away.
Like any good Kentucky party, we served stout bourbon cocktails and danced to the music of a five piece bluegrass band. Our caterer passed small plates of Southern-inspired dishes to our guests, while others picked at the dessert table filled with bourbon balls, lemon squares, and even a humble little wedding cake that was made by yours truly. The day contained more than a few nods to our families, heritage, and even the Bluegrass state itself, but on the week before the Kentucky Derby, one dish that we really should have served is derby pie.
Derby Pie Bars
If you’re not familiar, derby pie is fudgy, chocolate and nut-filled pie that is traditionally served that first Saturday in May at Kentucky Derby. Rich and chocolaty with a subtle crunch from walnuts, the original pie is decadent and one of the few desserts that just screams “KENTUCKY” to me. These derby pie bars are adapted from the original pie but have a few twists of their own that make them a delicious Southern treat you can enjoy all year round.
Making the Bars
To prepare these derby pie bars, we start with a shortbread crust. Sugar, flour, and the rest of the dry ingredients work in with a few tablespoons of butter to create a flaky bottom layer for our bars.
Once baked, the crust gets a sprinkling of mini chocolate chips. Next we slather it with a brown sugar pecan pie filling. The filled is made with butter, brown sugar, a swig of bourbon, and more than a handful of pecans. The whole thing gets baked in the oven, drizzled in chocolate, and cut into bite-sized bars. If you love pecan pie and chocolate, these bars are for you. If you need boozy desserts for your Kentucky Derby party, these bars are for you!
Brett and I have no plans to attend the Derby this year, but I absolutely adore any treat that reminds me of our wedding day. I hope that you’ll give them next week on Derby day and think of me! Stay tuned for next week, when I’ve got not one but TWO recipes to share with you guys! It will be a mouth-watering few days in these parts.
And on the off-chance that he’s reading- Brett, I love you. You make my life better and I’m grateful to be yours. Happy Anniversary.
If you like these derby pie bars, you may also like:
Kentucky Bourbon Balls and Homemade Chocolates
Candied Walnut Chocolate Chip Cookies
Pumpkin Pecan Cake with Burnt Sugar Frosting
Derby Pie Bars
These derby pie bars are based on the favorite Kentucky pie. A shortbread crust, bourbon pecan pie filling, and a drizzle of semisweet chocolate make these bars rich, decadent, and delicious to serve a crowd.
- Prep Time: 30
- Cook Time: 30
- Total Time: 1 hour
- Yield: 16
- Category: Dessert
For the crust
- ¾ cup (90 gm) all-purpose flour
- ¼ cup (35 gm) corn starch
- ½ cup (55 gm) confectioner’s sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup (113 gm) unsalted butter, cold and cut into teaspoon sized pieces
For the filling
- ¾ cup (170 gm) unsalted butter
- ¾ cup (160 gm) brown sugar
- ½ teaspoon vanilla
- Pinch of salt
- 2 tablespoons good quality bourbon (optional)
- 2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
- 3 cups (320 gm) coarsely chopped pecans
- 3/4 cup (130 gm) mini chocolate chips, divided
To prepare the crust
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9” square baking pan with aluminum foil with enough overhang on each side to easily remove the bars from the pan once baked. Spray with cooking spray and set aside.
- In a medium sized bowl, stir together the flour, corn starch, sugar, and salt. Using a pastry cutter or the backs of two forks, cut the diced butter into the dry ingredients until it becomes a coarse meal consistency with pea-sized clumps. Press the mixture evenly into the square pan and then chill for 5-10 minutes in the fridge. Then, bake in the preheat oven for about 15 minutes, or until the crust is set and then edges have just started to turn golden. Do not overbake. Set aside the cooked crust while you prepare the filling.
To prepare the filling
- Combine the butter, brown sugar, vanilla, salt, and optional bourbon in a small saucepan. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring until the butter and sugar have dissolved. Once melted and no graininess from the sugar exists any longer, increase the heat to medium and bring to a boil, boiling for 3 minutes. After three minutes have passed, remove the pan from the heat. Add the chopped pecans and heavy cream to a medium sized bowl and stir in the butter/brown sugar mixture until evenly combined.
- Sprinkle ½ cup of the mini chocolate chips over the cooked crust. Spread the warm filling over top of the chocolate chips and smooth out. Bake in the preheated oven for about 20 minutes, or until the edges and parts of the center are bubbling and the bars have turned caramel in color. Allow the bars to cool completely prior to removing from the pan (you can speed this process up in the fridge). Remove from pan by pulling out the foil liner. Melt the remaining chocolate chips in a microwave on low heat in 15 second increments or over a double boiler. Drizzle bars with chocolate and allow to set. Cut into 16 bars and serve at room temp.
- Be sure to allow bars to cool completely prior to cutting. You can place them in the fridge or freezer briefly to expedite this process.
- The drizzling chocolate can seize up if it gets too hot while melting. Be sure to melt on low heat and (if microwaving) in short increments so that you get smooth chocolate.
Recipe Adapted From: Once Upon A Chef
33 thoughts on “Derby Pie Bars”
Made these today for a derby party. Everyone loved them! Thank you for the delicious recipe! I doubled the recipe and made it in a 9.5 x 14 in pan. It worked great.
This recipe was *exactly* what I was looking for. I intended to bring Derby Pie to a Steeplechase tailgate with my family, but I didn’t want to mess with pie slices out in the field. This was perfect! They were pretty on the plate and easy to grab. They were quite rich, so I cut them up even further and got 32 triangles out of my 8×8 pan. Some people had 1, and some had more, but everyone raved. 🙂 Also, I lightly sprinkled sea salt to the top of half of the pan after drizzling with chocolate and it was SO good. Will salt the whole thing next time. I made them 2 days ahead and kept them refrigerated, and they were still just as good the day of. Because of how great they were to make ahead, they’ll be great for Thanksgiving too as a little pie alternative. Thanks so much for this recipe, I’ll be returning to it I’m sure!
These came out awful. The shortbread didn’t set – only good as ice cream topping. A waste of a lot of pecans.
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Delicious. I will definitely try.
Hooray! I’m thrilled to hear this!
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My daughter and I made these for a Derby party. They were a hit at the party and everyone, even the dieters raved about them, and took leftovers. My daughter who thought she didn’t like pecans liked them too. We used an 8X8 pan so cooked the crust a little longer, and used 1/2 instead of whipping cream and it was delicious.
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Made these today – we needed to find some way to cheer ourselves up and celebrate Derby Day! These were amazing and turned out perfect. I let cool in the pan on the counter for 15 minutes and then stuck in the freezer for about 25 minutes and they kept their shape very well when cutting.
hooray!! so thrilled to Hear!
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Can these made ahead of time and frozen?
I made the recipe as is but my bars came out thinner than your photos? The nut layer appears half the size as your? I did use a 8×8 square pan but you would think this would have made them bigger?
hmmm, I’m unsure why that could be! I use an 8×8″ pan as well. perhaps the photos are a bit of an optical illusion? if you have a photo please send my way!
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Kate…making these now…hope you see this. Are there really no eggs in the filling? Or was that an oversight?
I am trying to make them, but a little surprised that there are no eggs needed in the filling.
nope! it’s almost like making a caramel with all that sugar. it will thicken up to a gooey consistency when cooled!
My bars were falling apart when I tried to cut them. What did I do wrong? Going to attempt a 2nd time.
Oh no! I’m sorry to hear that. Did you allow them to cool all the way prior to cutting? The filling needs time to set up. Also be sure to cook thoroughly. The edges and parts towards the center should be bubbling when they’re ready to come out of the oven. If you don’t let them cook all the way they likely won’t set.
If you tried cutting while still hot, put your warm pan in the fridge or freezer to set up. That should allow them to cool faster.
Best of luck! Let me know how they turn out!
Love your works ! All the best !
Thank you!!! <3
HAPPY ANNIVERSARY to you and Brett!!
Thank you for sharing your wedding pictures, you two look so sweet!
I have never heard of Derby Pie, where have I been….LOL!
These Derby Pie Bars look scrumptious, I can taste them already.
I am definitely adding the bourbon in my batch….may have to sample first, for quality purposes. 😉
Have a nice day Kate!
Thank you for the compliment! Derby pie is definitely a thing of the South, but I can promise you that they’re tasty.
Also, it’s recommended that you have a sip… maybe two or three of the bourbon prior to using in baking… for quality purposes. 😉
These are wonderful! Can’t wait to try them with the bourbon!
Thank you for being an excellent guinea pig!!!
I love Derby Pie, I was just thinking this morning I need to pull out my Derby stuff to decorate and i will be making these soon!
yes! host a party! make these! and if you don’t invite me, I’ll be totally ticked. (kidding). (not really).
I’ve never made (or eaten) derby pie and right now I’m wondering how it’s possible I’ve missed out on something sooo delicious! These bars look wonderful. And I loved the pics from your wedding–what a beautiful day!
It’s totally a Kentucky/ Derby thing and if you’re not super familiar with either of those, it’s entirely possible you missed these. BUT! Now that you know them, they’ll be like a friend you keep forever. 🙂