First of all, what is chess pie? You might not be familiar with it if you're not from the South. The simple filling is made from pantry staples of eggs, sugar, butter, and a small amount of flour or cornmeal (or even vinegar) to hold it together. You can change the flavor of this base filling by adding vanilla, lemon juice, nuts, spices, or even chocolate. The variations are limitless. If you're curious about the origin of the name, there's a bit of folklore around the name. Some believe the word "chess" is an Americanization of the English word "cheese," referring to English Lemon Curd pie (chess pie is a cheese-less cheesecake). Another explanation suggests that "chess" is just a drawn-out drawl for "chest," which is how the very sugary pie had to be stored to keep the flies away (pie chest). And then my favorite is the folklore a plantation cook was asked what she was baking that smelled so good, and she replied, "Jes pie." Whatever the truth, chess pie is a southern staple that must be tried by all.
I baked chocolate chess pie that doesn't require a tablespoon of flour or cornmeal, probably because of the cocoa powder. For the crust I used the "stir and roll" Wesson oil recipe I blogged about yesterday. This is one of my favorite pies -- delicious.
Chocolate Chess Pie
1 unbaked 9-inch pie shell
1 1/2 c granulated sugar
3 heaping Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
Pinch fine sea salt
1 (5-ounce can) evaporated milk
4 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 350º F.
- In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the sugar, cocoa powder, and salt. Add the evaporated milk, butter, eggs, and vanilla extract, whisking well to combine.
- Pour the filling into an unbaked pie shell. Bake for about 40-45 minutes, or until the filling is set around the edges but slightly jiggles in the center.
- Cool the pie on a wire rack. Serve warm, at room temperature, or chilled.