Kentucky Derby & Bourbon

It's Derby week people! Kentucky is the only place that will celebrate a two minute race for two straight weeks, kicking it off with the largest fireworks show in the nation and wrapping it up with Derby. But to be fair, it is "the two most exciting minutes in sports." What is there not to love about Derby? Fancy hats, bourbon, pretty dresses, gambling, celebrities, parties, and horses. Pretty much the recipe for a darn good time. 

For this week's recipe, I thought I would bring together two of Kentucky's claims to fame, the Derby and bourbon. 

Last year we were lucky enough to go to Derby and enjoy ourselves in the infield (for the poor and the brave).

This year though, I'm on call for work so we're having to make other plans. Whether you are staying in, or feeling like going out, this recipe for Bourbon Toffee Marshmellow Bread Pudding from Chef Varanese, is the perfect combination of sweet meets bourbon. 


Bourbon-Toffee-Marshmallow Bread Pudding                             Serves 12

1  baguette cubed

5 eggs

1 cup sugar

½ quart heavy cream

1/2 quart half and half

1 cup crushed toffee

1 cup marshmallow torn into little pieces


Whip eggs, heavy cream, sugar, and half and half together. Combine with the baguette and set aside. Place in sugar lined pan and bake at 350 degrees until lightly brown. Garnish with marshmallows and lightly toast. Top with the toffee crumbles, caramel and any fruit or ice cream desired. 

What is crazy is Chef Varanese actually makes his own marshmallows, toffee, and caramel. This is where the bourbon comes in. I personally, will not be making my own marshmallows, but am going to include his recipe for the Toffee and Caramel


1 cup butter

1 ½ cup sugar

1 tablespoon corn syrup

3 tablespoons water

Place all ingredients in sauce pan over medium heat stirring. Heat to 304 degrees, judging this with a candy thermometer. Pour on greased sheet pan and let cool. 


½ cup Karo

½ cup sugar

2/3 cup heavy cream

1/3 cup Bourbon

Heat sugar and karo on a medium high heat until mixture turns a nice amber color. Heat cream and bourbon until warm. Take caramel off the heat and slowly whisk in the cream. 

If you don't feel like making this yourself, you can still get this and other tasty bourbon treats at the restaurant Varanese off Frankfort Avenue, near my old stomping grounds.

Check out these options below and you can either email me for the recipe for each, or you can go to the restaurant and try them first hand! 


Shaved Cantaloupe Baby Arugula with Bourbon Vinaigrette   



Smoked Caramelized Onion Burbon Soup 


Bacon Wrapped Pork Tenderloin with Bourbon Cherry Chutney



Bourbon Barrel Smoked Salmon with Linguine 


Varanese is located at 2106 Frankfurt Avenue Louisville, KY 40206

or check them out online at!