Chess Pie is a venerable Southern recipe that likely has nothing to do with the game of chess.
It’s a one-crust, sweet, rich custard pie made with basic ingredients found in every kitchen: butter, eggs, flour, milk, sugar and vanilla—plus two distinctive ingredients, cornmeal and vinegar. A one-bowl recipe, simply stirred, Chess Pie, which dates back to Colonial times, has remained popular over the generations.
An early version appears in Martha Washington’s Booke Of Cookery, comprising recipes handed down from her first husband’s mother, Frances Parke Custis, possibly at her marriage in 1750. The first known recipe called Chess Pie appears in the 1877, in Buckeye Cookery and Practical Housekeeping by Estelle Woods Wilcox.
We will probably never know how Chess Pie got its name, but here are the four prevailing theories:
You can save time with refrigerated pie crusts, or make your own. This classic recipe from Southern Living saves time with a refrigerated crust.
Other Southern Living recipes include Chocolate-Pecan Chess Pie, Grapefruit Chess Pie, Lemon Chess Pie, Orange Chess Pie and Tangerine Chess Pie. Some use a traditional flaky pie crust, some use a shortbread crust.
1. FIT the pie crust into a 9-inch pie plate, according to package directions. Fold the edges under and crimp.
2. LINE the crust with aluminum foil, and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake at 425° for 4 to 5 minutes. Remove the weights and foil; bake 2 more minutes or until golden. Cool.
3. STIR together the sugar and the other ingredients except the eggs, until blended. Then add the eggs one at a time, stirring well, followed by the optional coconut.
4. POUR the mixture into the pie crust. Bake at 350° for 50 to 55 minutes. After 10 minutes, to prevent excessive browning, shield the crust edges with aluminum foil or a pie crust shield—very useful if you make a lot of pies. Cool completely on a wire rack.
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