Gifts mom will actually love!Read More
Bourbon balls are one of my very favorite Kentucky traditions. They remind me of holidays with my family; my great-aunt Marie always made bourbon balls using the exact same recipe that I use to this day. I always think of bourbon balls as a Christmas treat, or something to savor at the end of a bourbon distillery tour. I only recently learned that a lot of people make bourbon balls as a Derby treat as well. This morning, I picked up a bourbon ball donut from Thorntons' new #ThorntonsBourbonKitchen line, and it was fabulous!
If you're in the mood for a bourbon ball, my recipe is below, or you can just pick up one of those donuts at Thortons for 99 cents. It's the same flavor with a lot less effort! And let me know -- do y'all think of bourbon balls as a Derby time treat?
- 1 to 2 cups good bourbon whiskey
- 1 cup chopped pecans
- 1/2 to 1 cup whole pecan halves (optional)
- 1 two-pound bag of powdered sugar
- 1 stick butter, softened
- 2 bags Ghirardelli semisweet chocolate chips
- paraffin wax
- Place 1/2 to 1 cup of chopped pecans in shallow bowl. Pour bourbon over nuts, immersing completely. Cover and let soak 12 hours to overnight.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place pecan halves in shallow pan and toast lightly for about ten minutes.
- Cream butter in stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment. Combine bourbon-pecan mixture with powdered sugar to form a stiff ball. Refrigerate to let stiffen slightly.
- Roll dough into small balls.
- In double-boiler (or a sauce pan placed over a cooker full of boiling water), add a third to a half a bag of semisweet chocolate chips and a small shaving of paraffin wax (no more than 1/4 cup). Heat until just smooth. Dip dough balls into the chocolate mixture. The key is to coat them quickly and make small, frequent batches of melted chocolate.
- Place bourbon balls on wax paper to cool. Top each with a toasted pecan half, if desired. Results are better if you leave them to cool at room temperature rather than in the refrigerator.
Yields between six and seven dozen bourbon balls.
The most famous dessert of the Kentucky Derby!Read More
The famed Palm Beach clothing designer's ties to the Kentucky DerbyRead More
Did you ever wonder why we wear elaborate hats to the Kentucky Derby? Well, the history of the Kentucky Derby goes back to the Derby Stakes in Britain, known here in the States as the Epsom Derby. The Epsom Derby was first run in 1780 and is the highest-purse horse race in Britain.
In 1873, Meriwether Lewis Clark Jr. visited Europe, taking in the Epsom Derby and the Grand Prix de Paris at Longchamp. He returned home to Louisville and organized the race now known as the Kentucky Derby, looking toward these races for inspiration for track design, race length and other details. When the Kentucky Derby began in 1875, Kentucky ladies wore their finest to the races, just as their British counterparts did. Of course, in those days, finery included a chapeau, and the tradition stuck.
These days, a Derby Hat is the first thing most ladies look for when they make place for the big race. Kate Welsh, co-owner of The Hat Girls, the Official Hat Designers of the Kentucky Derby Festival, says "Sixty percent of our business is custom work, which wasn’t in our original business plan. We find that, typically, a lady wants to pick out her clothes around the hat. Others want a custom design made from dresses they’ve already picked out."
Of course, there's a fine line between a dramatic hat and one that's too comfortable for race day wear. Kate Welsh says "We’re very honest with customers about what works for them. People try the hats on, and they don’t always realize that an adjustable hat brim only helps them so much. As designers, we try to limit how many feathers or sequins we add to the hat so thatit’s not sagging down into the customer’s face."
Rachel Bell, Ms. Welsh's Hat Girls partner, notes that their designs do strike a balance between practicality and flair. "But, at the same time, the hat usually is the focal point of the outfit."
Whether your preferred look is a practical fascinator or a show-stopping chapeau, you can thank the Derby's English roots -- and especially Meriwether Lewis Clark Jr's trip to Epsom -- for the tradition of Kentucky Derby Hats.
The Summit at Fritz Farm is finally here, y'all! I'm pretty excited about the stores and restaurants that are opening today, as well as those that will be here soon! The Summit at Fritz Farm is going to be such a great addition to the Lexington shopping scene. I love that the Summit will have a great mix of national retailers like Ariat, Brooks Brothers, and Pottery Barn along with local shops like Morton James and Sheila Bayes Jewelers. And, of course, there's an Alumni Hall for all your UK gear needs. If you're like me, you can't get enough UK gear. Ever.
All UK gear c/o Alumni Hall
I also love that the Summit is a mixed-use development, combining apartments, retailers, and restaurants. Back in my Lexington days, in grad school and my first couple of jobs, I lived in an apartment complex on Nicholasville Road, and I had to get in the car to go everywhere. Twenty-five year-old Heather is totally jealous that, less than half a mile away, there's an apartment building that will eventually house a Starbucks, a food hall, and a Whole Foods!
The stores at the Summit are going to be fabulous. As y'all know from my Instagram, I'm all about Vineyard Vines tees, and their pajama pants are so wonderful that I'll probably have to include them in the acknowledgment section when my book is finished.
I can't wait to see y'all at The Summit at Fritz Farm's First Look today. Keep an eye out for great pop-up shops, Steel City Pops and KY for KY, and more!
(This post was sponsored by Summit at Fritz Farm. All opinions are my own.)
Catstudio Kentucky Derby dish towel from High Street Fly. | Woodford Reserve julep cup from Woodford Reserve Gift Shop. | Kentucky Derby 143 Official Mint Julep Glass | Louisville Stoneware julep cups from Maker's Mark and Buffalo Trace Distilleries.
The mint julep is the signature drink of the Kentucky Derby. It's also one of the most maligned and misunderstood. A julep can be a lovely and refreshing cocktail when you use good bourbon, a fresh simple syrup and just-picked mint sprigs.
The first step to a great julep party is variety. Set up tasting stations so your guests can sample juleps made from different bourbon expressions. It's a great way to determine how the drink works for your palate. Some folks swear a julep needs to be in the traditional silver cup, others want a traditional Derby Glass, and some of us love the feel of a Louisville Stoneware Julep Cup. (The Stoneware cups are my favorite because they keep your drink cold without the condensation of a metal cup!
Bar towels from Maker's Mark and Woodford Reserve Distilleries. Rose garland from Etsy seller thekindpilot.
You're bound to have some guests who don't want a julep -- there's always that Kentuckian -- so stock some bourbons and ryes that are good for sipping or for making other, less Derby-approved cocktails.
To learn more about the mint julep, visit the Kentucky Derby Book website, where you'll see a video of Woodford Reserve's Chief Entertainment Officer Tim Laird making the perfect mint julep and read more about the classic mint julep cocktail with Woodford Reserve Master Taster Elizabeth McCall.
The Kentucky Derby by Bill Doolittle is a wonderful companion to the Greatest Two Minutes in Horse Racing. The book's Digimarc technology allows you to experience live video of Derby races, Derby fashion, and traditions like the mint julep directly on your smartphone! You can buy the hardback coffee table book here, or you can download the eBook from Amazon or iTunes.
(This post was sponsored by the Kentucky Derby Book. All opinions are my own.)