Thoroughbred Pie from The Best of America's Test Kitchen 2012

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You see the uniform Dudette is wearing in her cartoonized image up top? That’s what she looks like about four times a week as we head out to Tae Kwon Do. In fact, if you keep your eye on her, you’ll notice that the green belt will turn blue near the end of the month, as testing day is looming.

Even though I usually have a magazine or book to look at while sitting in the bleachers during her classes, it’s hard not to pick up on some of the Korean language they use. Some words (or phrases) are easy to pick up. Baro, which means ‘return to the relaxed stance,’ is a cool one because the r is rolled a little.

There are a few, however, that are like song lyrics. You know what I mean. How many of you could swear that Jimi Hendrix says, “S’cuse me while I kiss this guy.” While we were pretty sure that Dudette’s instructors weren’t saying ‘Kuk-ki ae daddy-o kyong yet’ at the beginning of class, that’s what it sounded like. Turns out that middle part is dae hiyo.

The one we’ve had most fun with, however is the phrase for ‘switch feet,’ which is Bal Kyo Dae. If you’re listening to a Korean say it, you’d swear that he’s saying Pie Today.

Which is what we’re having.

The Process

If you connect the dots from thoroughbred to Kentucky bourbon whiskey to horse racing, you’ve already come along way toward the explanation for this pie, so I’ll leave it at that. What I will tell you is that you can’t plan to make this an hour before you want to serve it. In fact, I suggest that you make the pie dough the day before and start in on baking and filling the pie the next morning. That’s what I did.

The crust isn’t something I’d normally spend time talking about because a pie crust is a pie crust is a pie crust. There are so many versions and they all vary in small ways, but not big ones. Except this. Vodka. In the dough. Whoda thunk it. It’s also one of the few crusts I’ve made that is a little tacky when it comes together. Because of that, there’s much refrigeration.

Make the crust; refrigerate it for at least 45 minutes. Roll the crust and put it in the plate; refrigerate it 30 minutes. Trim the dough and flute the edges; refrigerate it 15 minutes.

This is why I tell you to leave enough time for the whole thing.

The easiest part is the chocolate layer. It’s a simple matter of sprinkling the chocolate over the hot crust, waiting five minutes and then spreading the now softened goop on the bottom.

The filling comes together easily, with no surprises, unless you don’t pour the bourbon into the hot butter slowly. It bubbles a lot. Be prepared.

The cooking time was spot on for me. 35 minutes and it was just a little jiggly in the center.

The Verdict

Once again, the magazine messed up with this recipe. There’s no way this makes 8 servings. It is so rich and sweet you’ll want to cut the slices nice and thin. I’m guessing you can get 10 easily. That being said, the pie is delicious. Yes, there’s chocolate on the bottom, but it’s works to highlight the nuts and gooey caramel filling more than to punch its flavor at you. Dudette didn’t care for it, but Hubby and I enjoyed it very much.

If nothing else, you should try the crust. I was really surprised to see that there is vodka in there but it makes total sense and give a flaky, buttery, totally delicious crust. Dudette, who didn’t like the filling, loved the crust. So did her mother.

What I’d Do Different Next Time

I would lighten up on the chocolate, but that’s just me. You shouldn’t do anything different. Especially if you like chocolate.

Thoroughbred Pie from The Best of America's Test Kitchen 2012
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Reviewed by:
Recipe type: Pie
Cuisine: American
Serves: 8
  • 1 recipe Foolproof Single-Crust Pie Dough (below)
  • 3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
  • 3 tablespoons bourbon
  • ¾ cup (5¼ ounces) granulated sugar
  • ½ cup packed (3½ ounces) light brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs plus 1 large yolk, lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1½ cups walnuts, toasted and chopped

Foolproof Single-Crust Pie Dough

  • 1¼ cups (6¼ ounces) all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into ¼-inch pieces and chilled
  • ¼ cup vegetable shortening, cut into 2 pieces and chilled
  • 2 tablespoons cold vodka
  • 2 tablespoons cold water
  1. Remove dough from refrigerator and roll out on generously floured (up to ¼ cup) counter to 12-inch circle about ⅛ inch thick. Roll dough loosely around rolling pin and unroll into pie plate, leaving at least 1-inch overhang. Ease dough into plate by gently lifting edge of dough with one hand while pressing into plate bottom with other hand. Refrigerate until dough is firm, about 30 minutes.
  2. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees. Trim dough overhang to ½ inch beyond lip of pie plate. Fold overhang under itself; folded edge should be flush with edge of pie plate. Flute edges using fingers or press with tines of fork to flatten against rim of pie plate. Refrigerate dough-lined plate until dough is firm, about 15 minutes.
  3. Remove pie plate from refrigerator, line crust with aluminum foil, and fill with pie weights or pennies. Bake until surface of dough no longer looks wet, 20-25 minutes. Remove pie from oven and reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees. Remove foil and weights and sprinkle chocolate over bottom of hot crust. Let sit for 5 minutes, then spread chocolate into even layer; set aside.
  4. Melt butter in small saucepan over medium-low heat. Cook, stirring constantly, until butter is nutty brown, 5-7 minutes. Off heat, slowly stir in bourbon; let cool 5 minutes.
  5. Whisk granulated sugar, brown sugar, cornstarch, and salt together in large bowl until combined. Add eggs and yolk and vanilla, whisking until smooth. Slowly whisk in warm butter mixture until incorporated. Stir in walnuts and pour filling into chocolate-lined crust. Bake until filling is puffed and center jiggles slightly when pie is gently shaken, 35-40 minutes. Cool on wire rack for 4 hours. Slice and serve.
For the Pie Crust
  1. Pulse ¾ cup flour, sugar and salt in food processor until combined, about 2 pulses. Add butter and shortening and process until homogeneous dough just starts to collect in uneven clumps, about 10 seconds (dough will resemble cottage cheese curds with some very small pieces of butter remaining. There should be no uncoated flour). Scrape down bowl and redistribute dough evenly around processor blade. Add remaining ½ cup flour and pulse until mixture is evenly distributed around bowl and mass of dough has been broken up, 4-6 quick pulses. Empty mixture into bowl.
  2. Sprinkle vodka and water over mixture. With a rubber spatula, use a folding motion to mix, pressing down on dough until dough is slightly tacky and sticks together. Flatten dough into a 4-inch disk. Wrap disk in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 45 minutes or up to 2 days.


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