Race Day Chocolate Pecan Pie

I know very little about horses and even less about the sport of horse racing, but that never stopped me and my wife Bev from attending what used to be one of the biggest steeplechase races in Maryland – the Marlborough Hunt Races held in Davidsonville, outside of Annapolis. A friend who lives in London told us where to get some Informative Professional Horse Racing Tips for all sorts of races all across the UK & Ireland but we decided not to do any betting when we went.

At least, they called it a horse race. Judging, however, from the festive atmosphere – not to mention the volume and potency of the libations served up by tailgaters stretched as far as the eye could see – it frequently seemed as if the horses were merely a respectable excuse to throw a big outdoor party after a long and dreary winter.

The No-More-Tears Pie Pastry Course

If you’ve never been to one of these things, tailgaters at horse events are no different than any other: their competitive spirit shines. Secret family recipes are trotted out and prepared in bulk. Paper plates groan under the weight of acres of cornbread and mountains of slaw.

Cooking trash talk runs rampant, too: one could be forgiven for thinking that the real contest was a matter of whose crab cakes were the sweetest, and whose ribs were the bone-suckinest’ good.

But it’s always been the classic race day pies that really sparked my interest.

Everyone has their own idea about what constitutes a proper race day pie. But the kind that’s usually associated with the running of the Kentucky Derby – indeed, with horse race events in general – typically contains a healthy slug of bourbon, an idea that’s hard to argue with once you’ve tried it.

They also incorporate chopped pecans, chocolate chips, and an unabashed quantity of melted butter. You don’t need a top crust because what you end up with is a pie that makes its own tender-crisp, cookie-like crust and sports a creamy-sweet center interrupted only by the crunch of pecans and chocolate chip bliss.

In short, a pie that’s way too good to serve only during horse race season. Try it, you’ll see. And chances are good you’ll be hooked into serving this one often, even when there’s not a horse in sight.

PASTRY NOTE: Once again, I like the GOOD BASIC PIE DOUGH for this pie.

Race Day Chocolate Pecan Pie


  • GOOD BASIC PIE DOUGH, refrigerated
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
  • 2 tablespoons bourbon
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 cup chocolate chips


  1. On a sheet of lightly floured wax paper, roll the pastry into a 13" - 13 1/2" circle. Invert the pastry over a 9 1/2" deep-dish pie pan, center, and peel off the paper. Gently tuck the pastry into the pan, without stretching it, then pinch the edge into an upstanding rim. Crimp or flute, if desired. Place in the freezer for 15 minutes while you preheat the oven to 400°.
  2. Tear off a 16" long sheet of aluminum foil and press it into the firmed shell so it fits like a glove. To prevent the pie shell from puffing as it bakes, fill the foil about 3/4 full with dried beans, banking them up the sides.
  3. Bake on the center oven rack for 15 minutes. Reduce the heat to 350°. Remove the shell from the oven, then carefully lift out the foil and beans. Using a fork, poke the bottom pastry 6 or 7 times; the holes will keep the pastry from puffing. Put the shell back in the oven and bake another 10 to 12 minutes. Cool on a rack. (Plug the holes with dabs of cream cheese so the filling doesn't run out.)
  4. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs. In a small bowl, mix the sugar and cornstarch together, then whisk the mixture into the eggs in several stages. Whisk in the butter, bourbon, vanilla, and salt. Stir in the pecans and chocolate chips. Scrape the filling into the pie shell.
  5. Place the pie on the center oven rack and bake until the top is crusty and golden brown, about 45 to 50 minutes. Rotate the pie 180 degrees halfway through the baking. Transfer the pie to a wire rack and cool for at least 1 hour. (I prefer this pie served at room temperature.) Serve with whipped cream or ice cream. Makes 8 servings.