When we first heard about Southern Chess Pies, we were intrigued! The name of this particular dessert doesn’t give any clues as to what it tastes like, and there are several different stories about its origin. Some say it originated in England in the 18th century. In those days, it was important to ensure the shelf life of food was as long as possible. Most people can’t let food go to waste! Sugar helps keep ingredients like milk and unsalted butter from spoiling. Combined with butter and a few other spices, the pie keeps for a long time in the box. You have to admit, “chest” does sound like “chess!” Another version of the story goes like this: A chef is making dessert. When someone asked what she was doing, she replied, “It’s just pie.” In a Southern accent, “just” sounds like “chess.” No matter what story you’re telling, this Southern Chess Pie recipe is a hit!
Pie Crust Options:
We swear by this homemade pie crust recipe. If you’re in a pinch, you can always use store-bought. Make sure you don’t skip the freezing step for this recipe! It will give the crust the perfect texture when baked.
How does Southern Chess Pie taste?
Sweet and savory, Southern Chess Pie is delicious! It’s similar to custard, and the added cornmeal gives it a texture we like. Plus, the sugar caramelizes on top while baking! Many cooks liken it to pecan pie without the added pecans.
Chess Pie vs. Buttermilk Pie:
While the two desserts look similar, the recipe for Southern Chess Pie is different than the recipe for Buttermilk Pie. The latter has lemon zest and herbs in its filling, while Old Fashioned Chess Pie has fewer ingredients. It also adds cornmeal, which the buttermilk pie doesn’t.
Lemon juice helps reduce the sweetness of old-fashioned chess pie. The original recipe called for white vinegar because lemons were hard to find at the time. Whether you decide to use lemon juice or vinegar, don’t worry about the taste of the end result.
Troubleshooting: How to Prevent Chess Pie from Cracking?
When you take the pie out of the oven too quickly, you run the risk of cracking the top. One trick to keep the pie from cracking is to bake the pie pan on a cookie tray. That way, when you take it out of the oven after it’s baked, you don’t have to worry about moving it around too much.
You can follow the recipe card exactly, or you can make this old-fashioned chess pie recipe your own by tweaking it a bit. Here are some of our favorite flavor variations:
- coconut: Add toasted coconut flakes.
- Honey: Use 1 cup of honey instead of sugar.
- decorate: Sprinkle with a little cinnamon, nutmeg or allspice.
Does this dessert need to be refrigerated?
Here’s a Southern Chess Pie recipe that requires a little patience! It’s best enjoyed at room temperature, so you’ll want to let it cool for a few hours when it’s done baking. If you end up with any leftovers, you can store them in the refrigerator. More info on the following!