Every year, when we lived back home, we would attend the most epic Derby Party that ever was. Fancy dresses, extravagant hats, all of the mint juleps, some of our favorite people, and the best Kansas City barbecue were just a few of the constants that took place every year. 🙂 (Hey, KC BBQ is amazing. It works!)
We aren’t home anymore, but we are on the east coast … and somewhat south. I recently made a Derby Pie for a food photoshoot, and realized that I had never heard of such a thing. There’s a pie associated with the fastest three minutes in sports?! Awesome!
Well, after doing some research, I realized that the actual name of “Derby Pie” is legally owned by some restaurant in Kentucky, and they have actually sued people for using the name. SO. I’m not about to recreate that. On a positive note, I also realized that it basically has all of the ingredients of a chocolate chip cookie, which makes it incredibly convenient to make. (That, mixed with a little bourbon and chopped nuts … genius.)
However, I wanted to put a spin on it, and make it into a party food that can be easily shared. Cheesecake is such a popular dessert, and cheesecake bites are one of the best things to share at parties. Transforming this magical pie into cheesecake form, then cutting it into bite-size pieces seemed like the best. idea. ever.
SO! Here they are! These are Derby bourbon cheesecake bites from scratch, and they are delicious. I used store-bought pecan shortbread cookies for the crust, but you could easily use the traditional graham cracker crust instead!
Tips for making derby bourbon cheesecake bites :
A couple of serious notes here : do. not. over. mix. the. batter. The more air you incorporate into the batter, the more it will rise in the oven. This makes it puff up, cook unevenly, and also browns part of the crust. Mix the eggs in individually until they are just combined.
Be patient during the cooling process of your cheesecake. If you rush it, the end product will suffer. Let it do it’s thing by cooling in the oven for a while, then finish cooling on the counter. You’ll thank yourself later. 🙂
Use good quality ingredients. This also means use full-fat ingredients, and don’t use the whipped cream cheese that comes in a plastic container. Use good cream cheese that comes in a block, bourbon that you like (I use Maker’s Mark), full-fat sour cream, etc. The quality will shine when your guests (or you) dive into these gorgeous bites later, and you want to be proud.
Let the ingredients come to room temperature. Cream cheese, sour cream, and eggs. They’ll combine easier this way, and produce a better cheesecake!
Cheers to you, cheers to the Derby, and cheers to derby bourbon cheesecake bites! Enjoy!
derby bourbon cheesecake bites
- 1 1/2 cups pecan shortbread (or graham cracker) crumbs finely ground
- 1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
- 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
- 6 Tbsp. unsalted butter melted
- 2 packages (16 ounces) cream cheese room temperature
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup sour cream room temperature
- 3 large eggs room temperature
- 2 Tbsp. good bourbon
- 1 tsp. good vanilla
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1 cup finely chopped walnuts
- 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
- 1 Tbsp. all-purpose flour (additional)
for crust :
- Preheat the oven to 375 F.
- Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl until no lumps remain. Line an 8x8 pan with two sheets of foil; one laid horizontally and hanging over the edges, the other laid vertically to hang over the opposite edges, creating four foil handles to remove the cheesecake later.
- Lightly spray the foil with baking spray, then spoon the crust into the foil-lined pan. Firmly press the crust against the pan to form to the pan, rising one inch up each side.
- Bake the crust at 375 F for ten minutes, or until set. Turn the oven temperature down to 325 F, and set the crust aside to cool while you make the filling.
for cheesecake :
- Beat the room temperature cream cheese, sugar, and flour on medium-low speed until smooth, about one minute.
- Add the vanilla, bourbon, sour cream, and salt. Beat again, this time on low speed, until just combined.
- Add the eggs one at a time, combining at a low speed, until each is just combined. Eggs add the most air, so be mindful not to overmix on this step.
- In a medium bowl, combine the chopped nuts, chocolate chips, and additional tablespoon of flour. Toss the nuts and chocolate chips in the flour to coat them; discard of extra flour.
- Gently fold the nuts and chocolate chips into the cheesecake batter, then pour the batter into the cooled crust.
- Bake the cheesecake for 35-40 minutes, or until the middle of the cheesecake jiggles slightly. Turn the heat off in the oven, but leave the cheesecake inside the oven. After ten minutes, crack the oven door, and allow the cheesecake and oven to cool for 20 minutes.
- Transfer the cheesecake to the countertop, and allow to cool for another 15 minutes before moving it to the refrigerator. It's best to refrigerate the cheesecake overnight, but a minimum of six hours should also work.
- Garnish with chocolate drizzle and chopped nuts, and slice into bite-size pieces to serve!