Turn A Mint Julep Cocktail Into A Kentucky Derby-Inspired Dessert

Kentucky is a beautiful state with many noteworthy elements; two of the most iconic, however, are bourbon and the Kentucky Derby. The mint julep combines these two Kentucky touchstones into a deliciously sweet, herbaceous cocktail frequently enjoyed by spectators on the day of the race. But you don't have to wait until the first Saturday in May; you can enjoy a mint julep at practically any bar around the U.S., and there are countless variations.

Among the higher echelon of cocktails that could be considered a classic, a julep consists of three ingredients: bourbon, mint leaves, and simple syrup. One especially creative reinvention of the popular drink, however, isn't even as a beverage. Believe it or not, the julep's flavors and ingredients can also make for memorable, Kentucky Derby-inspired desserts.

Simple syrup is a sweetening agent, so the main ingredients remain bourbon and mint. Both are versatile ingredients that pair well other flavors; just think of all the other bourbon cocktails and minty beverages and dishes out there.

It also helps that many common tasting notes for bourbon also happen to be dessert standbys: floral herbs, vanilla, honey, baking spices, nuts, and fruit. Mint's cooling, herbaceous flavor is a longstanding dessert additive, pairing wonderfully with chocolate, vanilla, honey, and fruit. Between the two, you'll find endless possibilities for mint/bourbon-forward desserts.

Mint Julep-inspired dessert ideas

Choose from a lengthy list of baked or no-bake desserts if looking to create a julep-inspired treat. Start with cupcakes; there are plenty of mint julep recipes out there for the party favorite. Some julep cupcake recipes infuse bourbon into a chocolate batter to pair with a mint-infused frosting, while others blend bourbon with mint and vanilla extract into the batter and the buttercream frosting.

There are also numerous mint-julep cookie combos to try, from bourbon shortbreads with vanilla-mint glaze to mint julep sandwich cookies coated in bourbon sugar. Beloved Kentucky distiller Maker's Mark even sells chocolate mint julep cookies with bourbon fudge frosting.

Another tasty mint-julep dessert worth attempting is a minty, bourbon-infused truffle or chocolate cordial. Create a rich bourbon-infused syrup to fill a mint-chocolate shell, or coat a creamy filling of vanilla, mint and bourbon-spiked ganache in dark chocolate.

Another idea is to put a Kentucky Derby twist on a classic rum cake recipe, swapping the rum for bourbon and applying a honey-mint glaze. When in doubt, fall back on "boozy" ice cream; it's easy to sneak bourbon into homemade mint chocolate-chip, and the taste makes for a delightful Derby treat, any day of the year.