I bet you can’t say that recipe title three times fast!
I know, the name is ridiculous.
And I guess I am a day late (okay three days late) to the party. The Kentucky Derby ran on Saturday and so theoretically I should have posted this recipe one day last week. Only, I didn’t know I was going to make these No Nut Not Derby Pie Bars last week. They were a last minute creation on Saturday morning when I was trying to come up with a dessert that would give our annual Cinco de Mayo party a little bit of Derby flair this year. I had been wanting to experiment with a Derby Pie recipe for awhile now; but, the traditional recipe relies heavily on walnuts for its flavor. And as you all know by now, walnuts are a no-no in my house.
But the fact that a dessert was developed, designed around and dedicated to nuts has never stopped me from tinkering with it before. I once made Pecan-less Pretzel Pie people – and boy was it good. I think I need to make that again. But I digress . . . .
So I was brainstorming ways to make a nut-free Derby pie that would be more true to the original version than “just” a gooey chocolate chip bar. Not that there is anything wrong with a gooey chocolate chip pie bar. But I wanted these to be different. Special even.
I realized pretty quickly that my version of the bars needed a pastry-type crust to mimic the traditional pie crust. But, since I was bucking tradition anyway, I decided to go with an unexpected sugar-cookie-type crust. I pulsed together some white whole wheat flour, brown sugar, salt and butter in my food processor and then spread the crust in a 9×13 pan lined with parchment paper. I baked the crust for about 15 minutes in a 350 degree oven and while it was baking I pondered what to do with the filling.
Yup – sometimes I bake like that – no real recipe in mind, I just start cooking.
And often, the results are disastrous. But not this time . . . .
Briefly, I thought about using pretzels, but I was afraid they would be too crunchy for the texture I was after. I also considered pumpkin or sunflower seeds as a substitution for the nuts, but pretty quickly rejected those ideas too because I knew they would stay too crispy even when I cooked them.
Then I had the brilliant idea to substitute old-fashioned oats for the walnuts. I toasted my oats first and mixed them together with browned butter, sugar (both white and brown), chocolate chips, eggs and egg yolks, vanilla, bourbon (of course), sea salt and just a tad of flour to hold the whole thing together. I poured the filling over the crust, returned the pan to the oven for about 20 minutes and waited until they were cool enough to cut.
The bars looked so beautiful cooling on my counter, I found myself getting restless and actually forced myself to go for a run to give them ample time to cool.
Boy am I glad I did. Waiting until the bars were cool ensured they cut beautifully into squares. But even when cool they were still chewy and gooey inside. Yum!
The simple crust topped with the rich chocolate oat topping was absolutely perfect.
I mean you guys – these bars are to die for!
See, that’s why I couldn’t wait an entire year to share them with you.
And you should definitely NOT wait an entire year to make them.
This is not a healthy dessert, by any stretch of the imagination. It is rich and decadent and delicious. For that reason I cut these bars into tiny pieces – I got 48 bars out of my 9X13 pan. For me, that little bar was just enough. But if you want a bigger piece, you can always go ahead and eat two.
A quick word about the name . . . obviously the No Nut part you get. But the Not Derby Pie – well, here’s the story behind that. Derby Pie was originally created in 1950 at the Melrose Inn in Kentucky and the original version of the pie was more akin to a Pecan Pie minus the pecans. The recipe remains is a secret to this day and has been a registered trademark of Kern’s Kitchen since 1968. And the kern’s Kitchen is serious about defending it’s trademark – filing suit against any and everyone who dares to make their own version of a Derby-inspired pie. So, in the interest of saving myself a lawsuit I decided to just go ahead and tell you right up front that this is most decidedly and intentionally not Derby Pie™.
But it is darn delicious!
Let me know if you try it and who you think of my No Nut Not Derby Pie Bars.