As a native of Louisville, Kentucky, I like to get my Derby on every year on the first Saturday of May. This year was no different than others. My husband and I crowded as many of our friends as we could rally into our garage and sipped mint juleps while watching the race. Roughly one hundred folks clad in hats and bow ties showed up despite the fact that a tornado watch and hail don’t recommend attending a back-yard party.
Although it’s not like being in Kentucky (mainly because the party isn’t two weeks long) it’s a close second. It’s heartwarming for a Kentucky girl to find out that even in Colorado, folks appreciate a good Kentucky Derby shindig.
Every year, I bake Derby Pies and make bourbon balls. This year, my nine-year-old said to me, “Mom! I want an I heart bourbon balls t-shirt.” After sucking down three bourbon balls, he went on to exclaim, in an animated clearly-I’m-high-on-sugar-way, that he was the only kid he knew who was allowed to have alcohol. I smiled and let him have his illusion (only 3 TBSP of bourbon in this ginormous batch). That’s what Derby is, in large part, all about.
- 2 sticks of softened unsalted butter plus 1 TBSP (go organic if you can)
- 1 1/2 lbs. confectioner’s sugar sifted (I use Wholesome Sweeteners organic)
- 3 TBSP good Kentucky bourbon (it’s important to use the good stuff here)
- 1 cup of chopped pecans
- 1 bag of whole pecans
- 16 ounces of dark chocolate chips
- parchment paper
- Cream the 2 sticks of butter and confectioner’s sugar in a large bowl.
- Add the bourbon (you can use more than 3 TBSP if you want a stronger bourbon flavor) and mix until well-blended.
- Add the pecans and mix until well-blended.
- Refrigerate the filling mixture for 30 minutes (more if needed). The filling has to be cold to roll it.
- Five minutes before you get the filling out of the refrigerator, start melting the chocolate and 1 TBSP butter in a double boiler (or place a glass bowl on top of a pan of water).
- While the chocolate is melting, line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
- Roll the filling into 1-inch balls.
- Stick a toothpick into one side, and dredge the ball through the chocolate, making sure to let as much excess as possible drip off.
- Place the chocolate covered ball onto the parchment paper, toothpick-side-up, and remove the toothpick.
- Place a whole pecan over the hole from the toothpick.
- Repeat until you have made as many as you want or you are out of filling or chocolate.
- Place the cookie sheet in the refrigerator and let the chocolate harden.
- Serve at room temperature.