One of my favorite times of the year is the beginning of May. Not only is the weather looking brighter and the flowers are blooming, but my favorite day of sports happens – The Kentucky Derby, the annual run for the roses! And these Derby Sundaes with Chocolate Bourbon Sauce are the perfect way to celebrate!
In 2016 I had the opportunity to fulfill a dream of mine. I got to go to Churchill Downs, the home of the Kentucky Derby! It was a beautiful day with crystal clear skies and I had so much fun with my cousins, nephew, and his soon-to-be bride.
As we wandered through the grounds listening to our guide, I kept thinking of my parents and how they would have loved being there too. They grew up nearby in southern Indiana and watched the race every year. I come by my love of the races honestly LOL.
The Derby Museum has an incredible array of memorabilia and you should go if you have the chance. You enter through the same gates the horses are loaded into before each race. They are incredibly tall and gave me a whole new perspective of how small I am compared to the thoroughbreds.
The highlight of the museum was an immersive film about the Derby from inside the world of high stakes racing. You sit on swiveling stools in the center of an oval room with screens all around you. The film follows the horses and jockeys through race day activities, culminating in the actual race footage where you feel like you are truly in the middle of everything. It was breathtaking!
I hope all race lovers have a chance to go sometime. It is in Louisville, Kentucky and the museum is on the grounds of Churchill Downs.
There is no better way to celebrate derby day than putting a fun and different spin on the traditional Mint Julep cocktail. Instead of sipping on a bourbon and mint icy drink, we will enjoy minty ice cream with a bourbon chocolate sauce. Oh yeah!
I am sharing a homemade chocolate bourbon sauce that will have you eating it by the spoonful, and that can be made ahead. But if you need a shortcut, you can use a store-bought jarred fudge sauce mixed with a little bourbon. Spoon this over the ice cream and you have a dessert in minutes!
I rarely use corn syrup in my baking, but one exception is candy like today’s chocolate bourbon sauce. Corn syrup has a remarkable ability to reduce the occurrence of crystallization, the chemical reaction that causes sugar syrups to be grainy. When I make fudge, sauces, and caramels, a little corn syrup helps them turn out perfectly every time.
So in a couple of weeks on the first Saturday in May, I hope you will make these fun and delicious Derby Sundaes with Chocolate Bourbon Sauce, dress up in your finest outfits and top them with the most outlandish hats you can find. Enjoy the pomp and pageantry of the day and know I’ll be cheering along with you!
Jane’s Tips and Hints:
If you want to make your own ice cream, try this wonderful recipe from my friend Irvin Lin of Eat the Love. You will be amazed at his blog and recipes, always so beautiful and delicious. And pick up a copy of his cookbook, Marbled, Swirled and Layered from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. It is remarkable!
Even though all gluten is removed during the distillation process, some manufacturers may add caramel coloring which might cause a reaction. If you are making this for someone who has celiac or is highly reactive, you can replace the bourbon with an equal amount of potato vodka plus 2 teaspoons of brown sugar. It will be fairly close in flavor without the risk of getting anyone sick.
Chocolate Bourbon Sauce
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup light corn syrup or golden syrup
- 3 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder, such as Hershey's or Droste
- 1 cup water
- 6 oz 70% dark chocolate, chopped finely
- 1/4 cup bourbon (see Gluten-Free Tips above for a gluten-free option)
- 1/2 tsp kosher or fine sea salt
- 1 gallon chocolate chip mint ice cream, store-bought or homemade
- Fresh mint sprigs, for garnishing
- Make the Chocolate-Bourbon Sauce: In a heavy medium saucepan, combine the sugar, corn syrup, cocoa, and water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. When it is at a full boil, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until it thickens, about 10 to 12 minutes.
- With the pan off the heat, add the chopped chocolate, bourbon and salt. Whisking constantly, bring back up to a simmer and cook until thick and smooth, about 5 more minutes.
- Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly before serving. The sauce will thicken as it cools.
- The sauce can be made up to a week in advance. Once thoroughly cooled, transfer to an airtight container and store in the refrigerator.
- Assemble Sundaes: Scoop mint ice cream into bowls, pour a little of the sauce over each serving, and garnish with a sprig of fresh mint. Serve immediately.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 869Total Fat: 44gSaturated Fat: 26gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 13gCholesterol: 118mgSodium: 527mgCarbohydrates: 108gFiber: 5gSugar: 91gProtein: 12g
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