chocolate bourbon pecan pie

Chock full o' nuts. 

Chock full o' nuts. 

This pie is one of my absolute favorites. The hubs claims it's his favorite Thanksgiving pie, too. In some circles it's called Derby Pie, but for some reason there are trademark issues with that name, so I don't think we're allowed to call it that. Also Derby Pie is sometimes made with walnuts instead of pecans. But whatever, this pie is delicious in my mind.  The first time I had it, I was a resident eating lunch in the cafeteria at the county hospital. We were pleasantly shocked to find those slices were pretty heavy on the booze. 

I have adapted this recipe liberally because I'm not a big fan of traditional pecan pie with that giant layer of sweet goo in the middle. So this recipe is much more nutty than gooey. And the design of it varies, too. This year I pushed the OCD envelope and arranged my pecan halves in concentric circles on the top, but most of the time I just dump the nutty mix into the pie shell, jam some chocolate chunks into the top and call it good. 

Chocolate bourbon pecan pie

Makes one 9-inch pie



  • Single pie crust (see below)
  • 12 oz pecans, toasted and chopped into small pieces*
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into roughly 1 inch pieces
  • 3/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/4 cup bourbon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 to 4 oz dark or semisweet chocolate, chopped into 1/4 inch pieces (or can use chocolate chips)

What to do

1. Make your pie crust
     Use your favorite pie crust recipe. I love this one because it is simple and delicious. Or buy a pre-made one - no judgements, ya lazy bastard. Just get it done! If you make your own crust, I usually make mine the night before putting the pie together so the dough has enough time to work its magic.

2. Blind bake the crust
     Preheat the oven to 425°F. Roll out your crust and transfer it to your pie dish. Line the inside of the dough with aluminum foil and place pie weights into the bottom and up the sides (dried beans work well for this too). If you don't support the sides, they will sag down into a buttery mess when you bake it. Bake the crust for 12-15 minutes, then remove from the oven, let cool for a few minutes, then carefully remove the foil and pie weights. Here is a great site about blind baking.

2. Toast the nuts
     Reduce the oven temperature to 350°F. Place the nuts onto a rimmed baking sheet and toast in the oven for about 5-10 minutes until golden brown. Allow to cool completely, then chop into small pieces.

3. Mix up the goodness
     Lower the oven temperature again to 275°F. Set up a double boiler (I just place a large heat-proof glass bowl over a large sauce pan on the stove with an couple inches of water). Heat to simmer. Melt butter in the double boiler. Take off the heat and add sugar and salt. Mix together with wooden spoon. Whisk in the eggs, corn syrup, bourbon, and vanilla. Heat again until glossy (about 130°F). 
     Take off the heat and stir in the pecans. Place a couple of tablespoons of the chopped chocolate or chocolate chips into the bottom of the pie crust and mix about half the remaining chocolate into the pecan mixture.  Pour the pecan mixture into the pie crust. Scatter the rest of the chocolate onto the top of the pie. If you're feeling particularly crazy about the aesthetics of your pie, you can arrange pecan halves on the top. 

4. Bake
Bake for 50-55 minutes until the middle is set but a little jiggly. 

5. Let cool
    Be patient. Let it cool for at least 4 hours before serving.

6. Eat!

* If you want to arrange pecans on the top of the pie like I did, you'll need an extra 4-6 ounces of pecan halves. You do not need to toast these pecan halves since they will get a nice toasting while baking. 

Here are some tried and tested tools that I used with this recipe that have made my life easier:

  • Measuring cup for sticky or messy ingredients (like corn syrup, mayo, honey, etc). This measuring cup saves you from struggling to get ingredients out of regular measuring cups and reduces waste.
  • Pie weights. I like the ceramic ones, but dried beans work just as well. 
  • Pie crust shield. I was so sick of fighting with foil, trying to get it into the right shape and stay on the pie, so I was thrilled to discover this guy. It's adjustable to different sized pie dishes which comes in handy.

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