There is Derby fever in the air around here. Regardless of whether you care a thing about horse racing it’s difficult not to get sucked in. Store fronts display their fanciest hats and dresses, favorites and racing stats are being discussed at the water cooler, roses are the flower of choice and here comes the bourbon!
We celebrated a few Derby days in Brazil which was then followed by watching it in a hotel room last year since it was the same weekend as my husband’s marathon. Fortunately this year the Flying Pig is this weekend so we will have our big race done and we can adequately celebrate next weekend.
It’s likely no surprise that the food and drink are the best part of Derby for me. This time of year really brings out the culinary history throughout Kentucky. One of those things rich in Kentucky history is the Mint Julep.
I learned that if you ask Kentuckians if they like Mint Juleps, most will tell you no. However, they will drink them anyway on the first Saturday in May.
I don’t tend to follow the crowd, though, because I happen to love a good Mint Julep. I think the key is fresh mint from your own garden and high quality bourbon. It also doesn’t hurt if you have my husband as your bartender because his are, hands down, the best.
In case you are unfamiliar, a Mint Julep is a cocktail of bourbon and simple syrup that has been infused with mint served over finely crushed ice. You have to make your own simple syrup, though. Or find someone to do it from scratch for you. That’s the only way to drink them.
I have my mind on mint julep flavors and spring just wouldn’t be complete without my favorite breakfast pastry – the scone. So this is the first of Derby-inspired recipes I hope to post until the big day arrives.
Mint Julep Scones
Makes: 6 scones
½ cup pecans, chopped
3 tbsp Kentucky bourbon
1 ¼ cups white whole wheat flour
2 ¼ tsp baking powder
3 tbsp mascavo sugar (or brown sugar)
½ tsp salt
5-6 mint leaves, finely chopped
¼ cup cold unsalted butter, cubed
½ tsp pure vanilla extract
½ cup 2 % milk
Demerara sugar for topping
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F. Place the pecans in a small dish and cover with the bourbon. Set aside.
In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, mascavo sugar, salt and mint. Add the butter and use a pastry blender or two knives to blend until the butter is pea-sized and well incorporated into the flour.
Stir in the vanilla, milk and pecans with the liquid. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and gently shape into a circle about ½ to ¾ inch in thickness. Gently press about 1 to 2 tbsp of Demerara sugar into the top. Cut into 6 equal pie-shaped wedges.
Place on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake for 15 to 17 minutes or until the edges are browned and the center is firm.