Kentucky - Derby Pie

Horse racing & Hot browns
Bluegrass & Bourbon  
and Derby Pie - all things Kentucky!  

Derby Pie was created in 1950 at the Melrose Inn in Prospect, Kentucky by Walter and Leaudra Kern.  It became such a popular pie that the owners of the Melrose Inn trademarked the name in 1969 and the family continues to actively defend and protect the use of the name Derby Pie.  

What is this unique Kentucky pie?  A chocolate and walnut tart in a pastry shell - yum!  

Here's what you need for this simple pie...

1 deep dish 9" pie crust
1 stick butter
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2/3 cup flour
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup chocolate chips 


  • Combine sugar, eggs, vanilla and flour.  Mix until ingredients are incorporated
  • Melt butter and allow it to cool a bit
  • Pour butter into mixed ingredients very slowly and mix to combine
  • Add walnuts and stir just until incorporated
  • Sprinkle chocolate chips into the bottom of the pie crust, then pour filling mixture into the crust
  • Bake at 325 degrees for 1 hour

Derby Pie is a bit like a chocolate chip cookie with walnuts morphed into a pie!  Great anytime of year - but especially in May when the Kentucky Derby rolls around!  


Kansas - Sunflower Seed Cookies

Kansas is nicknamed the Sunflower State because of the abundant wild sunflowers that cover the state each summer.  The beautiful, tall flowers were once viewed as an infectious weed, but in 1903 the state decided to embrace it's natural abundance and beauty and named it the official flower of Kansas.  

Not only are these large beauties nice to look at, they also provide us with two great ingredients for cooking - sunflower oil and sunflower seeds! 

The wonderful people of Kansas have created the Sunflower Seed Cookie as a delicious treat to represent their state - making this the first cookie on Sweet State of Mine! 

  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 1/4 cups quick rolled oats
  • 1 cup sweetened shredded coconut
  • 1 cup shelled, unsalted sunflower seeds 

  • In a small bowl, mix together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt
  • Beat butter with electric mixer 30 - 40 seconds. Add sugars and beat mixture until combined.
  • Using mixer, beat in as much of the flour mixture as possible.  (If using a KitchenAid you should be able to mix it all in)
  • Stir remaining flour in with a wooden spoon
  • Stir in oats, coconut and sunflower seeds just until combined
  • Cover and chill for at least 1 hour
  • Remove dough from fridge.  Drop by slightly rounded tablespoons 3 inches apart on an un-greased cookie sheet. 
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 8 - 10 minutes until lightly browned. 
Yield = 48 cookies  

So good!  Like a kicked up Oatmeal cookie!  These are definitely worth a try! 


Iowa - Apple Dumplings

In the United States, Iowa ranks first in the production of beef, pork, corn, soybeans and grain. Excellent!  But how in the world does that translate to Sweet State of Mine and a state dessert? 

My best friend reached out to a friend of hers from Iowa to get her thoughts. She said any kind of home cooked farm food would be most representative of Iowa culture and that I might want to check out the menu from The Machine Shed.  The Machine Shed is a small, regional restaurant with several locations and the menu is full of Iowa classics from the farm.  Such great advice! 

I found that The Machine Shed's signature dessert is their Apple Dumpling and that over 1 million have been sold since the sweet was added to their menu in 1978.  

Farm fresh apples, simple pastry dough, cinnamon & sugar - easy enough for a weeknight supper after a long day on the farm!  Perfect!

Pastry Dough

for the dough
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup plus 2 Tablespoons Crisco
  • ice water (have about 1/4 cup ready) 

  • Blend flour and salt together, then cut in Crisco using pastry blender, forks, or your fingers.
  • Add cold water, one Tablespoon at a time, mixing until flour is moistened.  You will most likely only need a few Tablespoons of water.
  • The dough should come together into a ball, but not be sticky and wet. 
  • Form into a disc, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate a few hours or overnight if possible. 

Apple Filling 

for the apple filling
  • 6 peeled and cored Rome (or Granny Smith) apples
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • butter


  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 3 Tablespoons melted butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon 

  • Combine in saucepan and bring to a boil for 3 minutes.  Reserve to pour over assembled apple dumplings. 


  • Roll out chilled dough into 12x8 inch rectangle about 1/8 inch thick
  • Cut into 6 equal squares
  • Place one apple on each pastry square
  • Mix cinnamon and sugar together 
  • Fill the cavity of each apple with cinnamon and sugar and a dot of butter
  • Bring the corners of the pastry up around the apple and seal the edges together
  • Place in baking dish, leaving a little space between each
  • Pour the boiling syrup over the dumplings 
  • Bake at 400 degrees for 1 hour or until crust is browned and apples are cooked tender

Spoon bubbling syrup over each dumpling before serving...

Amazing!  These were so delicious and perfect on a cold January night!  


Indiana - Hoosier Sugar Cream Pie

I've only been to Indiana once, but for some reason, I've always known about Hoosier Pie / Sugar Cream Pie and knew it would be the sweet I featured on Sweet State of Mine - even though I'd never eaten any myself!  

The Indiana State Legislature confirmed my pick when they designated Sugar Cream Pie as the official state pie of Indiana in 2009.  It is believed the Quaker's brought the pie to the eastern section of Indiana in the 19th Century and since then, the pie has become an Indiana tradition and state favorite!  

In some families, Sugar Cream Pie is referred to as "Finger Pie" because of the method used to mix the ingredients.  The sugar (often a mixture of granulated and brown) and flour are combined in a bowl and then poured into the pie crust.  The cream is then poured into the crust and using your finger, you mix the ingredients together in the shell.  This is done to prevent incorporating any air into the cream before the pie is baked.  

The basic ingredients of this pie are simple... but the results you get can vary greatly!  More about that later...  


  • 1 1/3 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 cup whipping cream, whipped
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1 (9 inch) unbaked pie shell
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • fresh grated nutmeg 


  • Preheat oven to 450 degrees
  • Whip cream in medium mixing bowl
  • Fold sugar, flour and milk into whipped cream 
  • Pour into pie shell
  • Cut butter into small pieces and dot on top of filling
  • Grate fresh nutmeg over entire pie
  • Bake 10 minutes at 450 degrees, then lower oven temperature to 350 and cook for approximately 30 more minutes.  

And this is where it gets tricky! 

I researched tons of Sugar Cream Pie recipes and while the ingredients varied slightly (some contained egg yolks, some contained vanilla, different amounts of sugar - white and brown) the one instruction they all included was "Do not over bake or the pie will not set up properly."  

However, the pie does not set until it cools. And oh by the way, if you under bake it, the pie won't set up completely either! So how in the world are you supposed to tell when you have baked the pie to the correct level of "doneness"?  Makes it a little tricky for someone unfamiliar with this pie baking it for the first (second or third) time!  : ) 

I ended up trying three different recipes before I landed on this version which gave me the best results. And you can see in the pictures that even this third pie was a little runny.   

I did find some comfort when I read in several of the recipes that even for the experienced Indiana baker, sometimes this pie just doesn't set up properly.  Their advice for those situations - get yourself a spoon and enjoy it anyway!  

This seemingly simple pie, while a bit frustrating, did have a yummy taste!  It is super sweet, homey and simplistic.  

If you decide to give this recipe a try - I recommend (a) doing a test run (b) having a backup dessert or (c) have your spoons ready!