Gourmandistan

Mock(ing) Derby Pie

We must say quite emphatically that the pictures you see are not Derby-Pie®. The fine, upstanding, industrious and only slightly litigious folk at Kern’s Kitchen may believe we’re invoking the holy trademarked name. And we do not want any confusion, for the Kern’s folk (or their attorneys) will gladly tell you:

“There’s only one Derby-Pie®. When you see the name Derby-Pie® and the registered trademark symbol, you know you’re getting the pie produced exclusively by Kern’s Kitchen…”

We Gourmandistanis cannot condemn either trademarks or litigation. Our livelihoods come from creating valuable corporate properties (Steve) and litigating for corporations (Michelle).  So, please, do not tell your friends and neighbors that Gourmandistan is giving away the recipe for Derby-Pie®. That would be wrong—very, very wrong. This is Alice Medrich’s “Chocolate Pecan Pie,” which is very, very different from Kern’s Derby-Pie®. “Chocolate Pecan Pie” uses pecans instead of the walnuts found in a Kern’s Kitchen Derby-Pie®.  (Also, as far as Gourmandistan knows, the words “chocolate,” “pecan” and “pie,” either individually or in concert, have never been trademarked in any way.)

Many who infringe on Kern’s Kitchen’s intellectual property use semisweet chocolate chips which tend to make these pies too sweet for our tastes. Medrich’s suggested bittersweet chocolate really did improve things, bringing out better flavors from the bourbon and dark brown sugar. This recipe definitely elevated our opinion of what we can confidently call the “Big Race At That Track With The Two Things On It Pie.” (Kentucky Derby, Churchill Downs and the “twin spires design” are registered trademarks of Churchill Downs Incorporated.) Also the crust recipe, which called for more butter than Steve’s trusty pâte brisée, turned out rich and crispy, making Steve want to explore this pie again.

We may use walnuts for the next round, and perhaps rum or brandy instead of bourbon. Whatever we do, we would never call it Derby-Pie®. Mock Derby Pie, perhaps—but never, never Derby-Pie®.

Recipe notes:  Medrich writes in her 2003 Bittersweet: Recipes and Tales from a Life in Chocolate that she worked on this recipe “over a period of a dozen years.”  It really is just about perfect.  Although semisweet is listed as an option, we used standard bittersweet chocolate. It was, as the instructions in Bittersweet specify, baked in a 9″ glass pie pan.  In our oven, it took a tad longer than the referenced 10 to 12 minutes to bake, more like 18 minutes. We topped it with some sweetened whipped cream spiked (of course) with a little bourbon. It’s Derby week, after all.

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29 comments

    • Thanks much! The recipe also gave an option for using unsweetened chocolate (with a little added sugar, of course). I might have to try that next time. Many times I’ve said that an, ahem, “Kentucky Pie” or whatever is just a ruined pecan pie.

  1. Haha, I love that comment from Food, Photography and France!! Lol. Wow I did not know that you guys had such high profile careers. I thought you were in the food business from your amazing photos and recipes!! I love pecans, and that layer of chocolate is sheer indulgence. Damn. Now I need to eat a handful of chocolate chips to satisfy my craving.

  2. Jumped from Southern Food Bloggers.

    I will definitely be making the less-sweet version of this pie this weekend! I’m a sucker for anything with pecans, especially if it comes with a story!

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  7. LMAO!!!! This is such a great post. Thanks for sending me over here, Michelle. I’m so glad that after 12 years that this woman discovered a perfect non-reverse engineered, but similar version of this pie. The pictures are amazing. I’m glad that no corporations or trademarks were hurt or infringed upon by this recipe. You are however making me want to go to a Derby party. I want to wear a big hat, drink mint drinks and eat pies while wearing a suitable dress!

    • Thanks, Amanda! I will say that the Derby can be fun. Or at least it used to be fun in its own somewhat nutty, old-fashioned way. Now the security is worse than that at an airport. No umbrellas, no cameras with detachable lenses, no coolers, no food except in no-larger-than-18″ square clear plastic containers, etc., etc., etc. A party away from the track is definitely the best idea. (In a crazy hat, of course.)

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