Derby Day Cupcakes

If you are a sports fan, horse fan, or live in Kentucky, than you probably know what major event is coming up this weekend - it's the Derby! My husband and I both grew up in Kentucky and lived there until just a few months ago. Neither of us have ever been to the Derby though! We did go to a horse race once before leaving Kentucky and really enjoyed it. I admittedly know nothing about horses, but it was exciting to watch. Just for fun, we decided to put a couple dollars down on a horse while we were there. We don't normally do that, but thought it would be fun just to do once. Tyler had a strategy, but I decided to put mine on the underdog. This poor horse had terrible odds of winning, very few people chose him. Once the race started, though, my horse started barreling past the competition. I suddenly realized that this horse had a great chance of winning, and since the odds were so bad, my $2 was going to become a lot more! At the last second, though, something spooked the horse and it threw the jockey. I was more concerned that the jockey was ok, but also a tiny bit disappointed. It's probably a good thing I didn't win, it's more fun just to watch!

To celebrate the upcoming Derby, I decided to give myself a Cupcake Wars-like challenge. I wanted to create a cupcake that represented the Derby in look, as well as taste. For the taste, I was inspired by a Kentucky tradition - Derby pie. You've probably heard of Derby pie (or May Day pie, "That Day in May" pie, or any of the other name variations). If you haven't heard of it, the pie is basically pecan pie with chocolate chips (and usually) Bourbon added in. Bourbon is left out of my recipe, but it would be easy to add in if you like that flavor.

When I was trying to think how to create a Derby pie inspired cake, I was looking around the grocery and saw butter pecan cake mix. I had thought about using a chocolate cake, but I decided this might be a good way to incorporate some pecan flavor.  I paired this with a pecan pie filling recipe that can be created on the stove top, I found the recipe on the Southern Living website. I was pleased with the result, you definitely get the delicious flavors of pecan and chocolate. The filling is good enough to eat by itself, it's like eating pecan pie without the crust! The cupcake might not be an exact replication of Derby pie, but the flavors are definitely there.

As with Cupcake Wars, presentation is also important, so I decided to top the cupcakes with some fondant decor. I made a quick and easy fondant rose and a little grey horseshoe to give that Derby feel to the cupcakes.

Here's how I made these cupcakes - 

Derby Day Cupcakes ingredients:

  • 1 box butter pecan cake mix
  • 1/2 cup butter (or oil as it calls for on box)
  • 1 cup water
  • 3 eggs
  • 3/4 cup chocolate chips
Pecan Pie Filling:
  • 1/2 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup dark corn syrup
  • 1/3 cup cornstarch
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1 1/2 cups half-and-half
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 3 tbs butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Whipped topping/Cool Whip
  • 1/2 cup pecans
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips

Derby Day Cupcake instructions:

  • Preheat oven to 350F
  • Prepare butter pecan cake mix per directions on box (I did replace oil with same amount softened butter)
  • Mix in 3/4 cup chocolate chips (to keep for sinking when baking, toss in flour first - I forgot to do that!!)
  • Fill cupcake liners 3/4 full and bake for around 14-18 mins
  • Cool cupcakes
Pecan Pie filling-
  • Combine the first six ingredients for the pecan pie filling (all but the butter and vanilla) in a 3 qt pot
  • Whisk until smooth
  • Heat up and boil for a minute (or until thickened) over medium heat and then remove
  • There are two ways to cool this:
    • Place wax paper down on the filling (to prevent creating a film) and refrigerate for 4 hours
    • For a quicker cooling, place filling in a small bowl and place down in a larger bowl with ice. Whisk for around 15 minutes.
  • Once mostly cooled, fold in 1/2 cup crushed up pecans and 1/2 chocolate chips
  • Cut out a cone shape from the middle of the cupcakes to create an area to fill with the pecan filling
  •  Spoon pecan filling down in hole and all along top of the cupcake
  • Let sit and harden
  • As I would do to a piece of Derby pie, I topped my cupcakes off with a couple dollops of whipped topping! I finished it off with a fondant horseshoe and rose for a final Derby touch.

These cupcakes are delicious, but a little messy! Just like my ice cream cupcakes, they are best to eat unwrapped and with a fork! Enjoy and have a great Derby day!

Make sure and check back this Friday as I am sharing the May edition of my Something Savory series. My husband helped me out with the cooking this month and did a great job. You won't want to miss this delicious dinner recipe, it's perfect for summer! As always, you can follow my updates by email, GFC, and bloglovin'. I also update my social media sites (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram) with my latest posts and projects!

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