If you love soft, fudgy brownies, you’re really going to love this pie. Chocolate Chess Pie is a gorgeous collision of the world’s two favorite chocolate desserts: Brownies and Chocolate Pudding Pie. With a rich, chocolatey pie filling baked atop a buttery, flaky pie crust, it’s really no wonder this old-fashioned Southern Pie has remained a classic throughout the decades.
Easy to make and quick to assemble, your Chocolate Chess Pie filling comes together in less than 10 minutes. Feel free to use either homemade or storebought pie crust, and don’t forget to have the whipped cream on standby!
CHOCOLATE CHESS PIE INGREDIENTS
- Pie Crust – Clearly, you can’t have pie without the pie crust. You will need one disc of pie crust for this recipe. You can use Homemade Pie Crust or storebought pie crust. As long as it has yet to be cooked, you’re golden.
- Milk – Be sure to use whole milk for best results.
- Sugar – White, granulated sugar is the only sweetener you need for this Chocolate Chess Pie!
- Butter – Use only unsalted butter, especially when called for in a recipe. Otherwise, your dessert will turn out far too salty.
- Cocoa Powder – During recipe development, we used Hershey’s Unsweetened Dutch Cocoa. You can use any brand you like, as long as the cocoa powder is unsweetened.
- Eggs – Take note! You will need a total of three eggs for Chocolate Chess Pie. Two whole eggs (this will be integral to the structure of the pie), and one egg yolk for an extra rich and creamy texture.
- Cornstarch – Cornstarch is the thickening agent for this pie and it will help to ensure the pie slices neatly and the edges stand up straight even after being cut into. Do not sub in flour for cornstarch.
- Vanilla – You can’t have a chocolate pie without vanilla — it’s the Ying to the chocolate’s Yang. In other words, it provides balance. Pure vanilla extract is best and will deliver much more flavorful results than the imitation stuff.
- Salt – Salt is an essential ingredient in any sweet recipe and should never be overlooked! Fine sea salt is best for baking.
You might have noticed there is no cornmeal in this Chocolate Chess Pie. This ingredient was intentionally left out to promote a smooth and creamy texture. If you just can’t fathom the idea of a Chess Pie without cornmeal, add 1 tablespoon of cornmeal when whisking together the sugar, cocoa, and salt.
HOW TO MAKE CHOCOLATE CHESS PIE
- Prep Oven and Pie Crust – Make sure you have a rack in the center of the oven for even cooking and preheat it to 325°. Then, roll out your pie crust to a 1/4″ in thickness and transfer to a 9″ pie dish. You can either fold over the edges or shape them decoratively if desired.
- Make a Slurry – Making a cornstarch slurry for your Chocolate Chess Pie ensures the cornstarch is evenly distributed throughout the batter. To do this, add the cornstarch and 1 tablespoon of milk to a small mixing bowl and stir to combine. Then, drizzle in the remaining 1 cup of milk and set aside.
- Make the Pie Filling – In a large mixing bowl, whisk together sugar, cocoa, and salt. Stir in the butter, followed by the eggs, the yolk, and vanilla. At this point, you’ll want to make sure you’re eggs are well-beaten and fully incorporated into the batter. Then, whisk in the milk-cornstarch mixture.
- Bake – Pour the filling into the unbaked pie shell and transfer to the center of the oven. Bake for 45 minutes. Then, add a pie shield and continue baking for 10 minutes more. If you do not have a pie shield, you can make one out of strips of aluminum foil.
- Cool – Allowing the pie to cool completely is essential to making a Chocolate Chess Pie that stands up on its own. Allow the pie to cool completely (2-3 hours), then slice, serve and enjoy!
HOW TO STORE CHOCOLATE CHESS PIE
If your Chocolate Chess Pie has cooled and set up close to serving time, it is okay to leave out at room temperature a bit longer. However, Chess Pies should be refrigerated after they are cut into. The pie will stay good for 3-4 days in the refrigerator.
CAN YOU FREEZE IT?
Chess Pies can be frozen but may end up a bit weepy when thawed, so it’s not necessarily advisable if you are making the pie for entertaining purposes.
To freeze a Chocolate Chess Pie whole, gently wrap it all around with a couple of layers of plastic wrap, then with a layer of aluminum foil. To freeze leftover slices of Chocolate Chess Pie, place them in a snug, freezer-safe, airtight storage container, separated by layers of wax paper and seal.
WHY DO THEY CALL IT A CHESS PIE?
There are many stories as to how Chess Pie got its name, but unfortunately, none of which have been proven wrong…or right.
One theory according to Cooks Country is the word chess actually originated from the word chese, which was a term used by the English settling in the New World circa 1700s. The word was indicative of curds and custards used in pies. So naturally, a “Chess Pie” refers to a custard pie.
However, this doesn’t explain why Chess Pies are considered a Southern staple, now does it? The Washington Post offers not one, not two, but three other explanations — two of which are of Southern origin.
(1) In the 19th century, there was a freed slave making a living selling pies to her neighbors. The pies she made consisted mostly of eggs, sugar, flour, or cornmeal. This, as you likely know, is the makings of a custard pie. When people asked her what kind of pie she made, she simply replied, “Oh it’s jes’ pie.” One epic game of telephone later, her jes’ pie evolved into Chess Pie.
(2) Before refrigeration was a thing, cooks and housemaids used sugar in pies to keep ingredients like milk and butter from going bad. They typically consisted of a heavy custard using eggs, butter, cream, lots of sugar, and flour. The pie could be kept unrefrigerated in a “chest.” Chest Pies later evolved into Chess Pies.
(3) And, the simplest explanation of all was found in the footnote of a Chess Pie recipe by Phila Hach, the grand dame of Southern Cooking. She wrote, “Chess pie gets its name from chestnut meal which was used in olden days in place of cornmeal.”
5 MORE SOUTHERN PIE RECIPES YOU’LL LOVE
- Pecan Pie delivers in both flavor and simplicity! Get ready to bake the most delicious Pecan Pie the South has ever tasted.
- Buttermilk Pie is a smooth, custard-filled pie with sweet, sugary notes of vanilla accompanied by a lemon-like tang! It’s perfectly balanced in flavor and always bakes up a beautiful golden brown.
- Pumpkin Pie is a must for your Thanksgiving table. This is everything you need to know to make a creamy, flavorful Pumpkin Pie from scratch!
- Chocolate Pudding Pie is a decadent, rich and silky pie with a homemade chocolate pudding filling made from real, chopped chocolate.
- Apple Crisp Pie is stacked with layers of perfectly cooked, delicious cinnamon apples, and topped with a crunchy, golden oatmeal crumble! It’s a scrumptious, crowd-pleasing apple pie that is sure to send a flood of compliments your way.
- 1 uncooked pie crust
- 2 tablespoons corn starch
- 1 cup + 1 tablespoon whole milk, separated
- 1 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
- 2 eggs + 1 yolk
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1/3 cup cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
Preheat the oven to 325° and make sure the rack is in the center of the oven.
Roll out your pie crust to a 1/4" in thickness and transfer to a 9" pie dish. Fold over or shape the edges as desired. Set aside until ready to use.
Add the cornstarch and 1 tablespoon of milk to a small mixing bowl and stir to combine. Drizzle in the remaining 1 cup of milk and set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together sugar, cocoa, and salt. Stir in the butter, followed by the eggs, one at a time, the yolk, and the vanilla. Make sure the eggs are evenly incorporated. Lastly, whisk in the milk-cornstarch mixture.
Pour the mixture into the unbaked pie shell and transfer to the oven. Bake for 45 minutes. Then, add a pie shield and continue baking for 10 minutes more. Allow to cool completely, slice, and enjoy!