Friday, September 14, 2012

Chess Pie...a Southern Favorite!

 
 
 
 
 
The one pie that is probably close to 'as southern' as the pecan pie, is the the chess pie.  In my part of the south, it was probably served much more often, mainly because pecans do not grow here and were not always plentiful like in so many of the deeper south states.  Even without the pecans, this pie is very rich and a small slice will do for most people. 
 
There are a lot of theories about why it's called chess pie, but no one knows for sure.  Some think because it is similar to the English lemon curd pie which they called a 'cheese pie', minus the lemon and the cheese,  so this pie became known as chess pie.   That seems to be a stretch to me.  Another theory is that gentlemen would retire to the parlor after dinner to play chess and have this pie.  I don't think that works either.  Then there is the one that theorizes that back in the day of slavery, the cooks would be asked what was for dessert and they would say 'jes pie'...that one might work.  The last one is that this pie is so sweet it will keep in a pie chest or safe for a few days without ruining and was therefore called a 'chest pie' and with the southern accents, later called a Chess Pie.  That one works for me best.   It could be any or none of these.
 
I always remember my great great aunt making this pie and it seemed like she made it at least once a week.  She baked every week day (not weekends)  of every week that I can remember.  Can you imagine baking that much?  I can't and I cook a lot...especially now.   Here is what you need for this pie:
 
 
1 unbaked 9" pie shell
1 stick butter, melted
2 cups sugar
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1Tbs. flour
2 Tbs. cornmeal
1 Tbs. white vinegar
1 tsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 cup half and half
 
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream together butter and sugar.  Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well.  Place the unbaked pie shell on a cookie sheet.  Pour the mixture in the shell and carefully place in the oven on the center rack.  
 
 
Bake for 45 to 50 minutes or until slightly browned (don't over brown).   Remove and cool before serving.
 
 
 
Chess Pie!
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 



34 comments:

  1. add a little coco and make it chocolate chess pie

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  2. I'm a little behind on my reading but.....2 weeks from tomorrow, my daughter ( who took over for my nana when she passed) will make me my birthday pie. I don't have cake - and it will be chess pie. It has always been chess pie - although I will be 50 then, they tell me I was 4 before I could tell anyone I preferred that to cake to celebrate. It is as much a part of my celebration as anything else. Last year, my daughter was so sick with morning sickness she couldn't make it and I sure missed it! Your recipe has got me anticipating that pie more than ever now!! Pinning and G+!

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  3. One of my favorite pies ever! love this one.. have to make one for me, one for my grandmother and one for the rest of the family :)
    This recipe is slightly different than mine and I do believe I will need to try it to night :) If for no other reason.. another excuse for chess pie!

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  4. we make a pie called vinager pie, same ingrediants except there is half in half in this very rich and very good.

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  5. Thank you so very much for posting this recipe!!! My grandmother always used to make Chess Pie and it was my favorite. Unfortunately, she didn't have a "recipe" other than what was in her head and that information died with her.
    I can not wait to make this pie for my mother, she'll be as thrilled as I am. God bless...:-)

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    1. My Grandmother in South Georgia used to make this pie and the recipe was not in her "receipts" after she died. It and her coconut custard were my favorites! Thanks so much for the recipe!

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    2. My Grandmother in South Georgia used to make this pie and didn't have a recipe written down. This and her coconut custard pie were my favorites! Thank you for the recipe!

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  6. I am from TN. and love chess pie. Most ppl. in GA never heard of it so I will share.

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  7. my mom used to make a lemon chess pie, i sure wish i had a recipe for that.

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  8. For lemon chess pie, just add the juice of one lemon and the zest from the lemon...about 1 Tablespoon full zested really fine. Then you have lemon chess pie.

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  9. This looks great i need to try it asap
    Your blog rocks keep it up

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  10. What's the difference between this and buttermilk pie

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  11. What is difference between this and buttermilk pie

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  12. Thank you so very much for this, my mom use to make this and I loved it so much,but after both my parents passed away for some reason we could not locate her recipe box.I can not tell you how many times over the last 20 years I wished I had this, thank you from the bottom of my heart!!!!

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  13. The Chess Pie looks great!!! But, do you have a good recipe for a sugar cream pie? My grandma made them, but I can't find a recipe that measures up... thanks

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  14. The recipe I use is from the Pioneer Cookbook that I inherited from my Mom's oldest sister. It calls for Karo Syrup and I think that makes a big difference in the taste and texture.

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  15. I have never seen a Chess Pie made with Karo syrup, but it works in Pecan Pie so I guess it could be used fine.

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  16. Chess pie and buttermilk pie are different in texture. The traditional chess pie does not have buttermilk in it and it has cornmeal and vinegar usually. The buttermilk pie has buttermilk, of course and is little less sweet. They are both yummy.

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  17. I use Buttermilk instead of half and half, such a good Pie. My family enjoy this around the winter holidays season.

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  18. One of my favorites growing up (but it was Lemon Chess Pie) Thank you for this recipe!

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  19. This looks like the chess pie that my grandmother and great-aunt used to make. I know it had the vinegar and cornmeal. I can almost taste it looking at the picture, first time my husband had a piecc of chess pie he couldn't get over how sweet it was (he's a reformed yankee, he's been in SC since 1969). I think I'm going to have to make this for my birthday!

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  20. Do you use deep dish or regular shells and is it plain cornmeal or self-rising or cornmeal mix?

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  21. My mama always made Chess Pie and I loved it. I am from NC and a southern lady for sure! As you said, it is very rich and goes well with a cup of coffee!

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  22. Please tell me, what causes or makes the brown sort of crumbly topping on the pie?

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  23. I am in the market for a dessert my grandmother made called "vinegar roll." Most people I mention it to have never heard of it. She was of German descent but I don't know if it came from that or her "new" family in West Tennessee. I would love to have the recipe to see if I can make it. It was simple - sugar, butter, vanilla flavoring and vinegar I believe, were the ingredients, but I don't know proportions or steps; plus the dough. It was more like a cobbler than a pie, and it was absolutely delicious!!!!

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  24. Got a recipe for "vinegar roll?" My grandmother made it when I was a child and I am 80, so it is OLD. Most people have never heard of it. More like a cobbler than a pie. I think it was sugar, butter, vinegar, vanilla flavoring, and crust, but I don't know proportions, or how it was constructed.

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  25. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I am going to make Chess Pie first thing tomorrow.

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  26. Ivy, that little bit of cornmeal and vinegar combine to make that sort of think crust on the top of the pie.

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  27. My Grandmother made Chess Pie every week, and her recipe has no vinegar. It calls for the juice of 1 lemon, and I think that's my favorite part of the whole pie. OK, so now I have to go make one. But try it once with lemon instead of vinegar. It's just beyond great.

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    1. That is technically a "Lemon Chess Pie" which is a variation of the traditional Chess Pie. The lemon cuts the sugar much like the vinegar does. If you like lemon, use lemon. :)

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  28. I love Chess Pie. My grandmother and mother both made it as did 2 mothers-in-law. Variations included the lemon chess mentioned above and a brown sugar version where part of the sugar is replaced with light brown sugar to give a slight caramel taste. All are good.

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  29. I love to read all comments on this blog. I'm in the Pacific Northwest and have scattered family! So, reading comments of generational memories and fondness is special. I think Southern tradition is wonderful and real and food is a big part of that tradition. Life just gets too busy and complicated in the North !! Thanks !

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  30. I made this for Thanksgiving and it was a huge hit! Everyone loved it and there wasn't any left over. Only thing I had to do different was leave it the oven for an extra 30 minutes. When I took it out after 50 minutes, the center was jiggly, but after the extra time cooking it turned out perfect. Thank you for sharing your recipes. This is my favorite blog to come check out when I'm looking for a great recipe.

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  31. Chess Pie, also known as "Brown Sugar Pie" or "Poor Man's Pie is the pie I always made at Christmas. My Mom's recipe called for brown sugar, eggs, flour, vanilla, and evaporated milk (I use a mixture of "cream" and water-2 parts cream to 1 part water) and "homemade" pie shells. My younger son recently told me he went to the grocery and asked if they sold chess pie...lol I changed my traditions this year and made him a couple for Thanksgiving. They are so simple, inexpensive to make and delicious!

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