Chess pies are new to us lifelong mid-westerners. Though it seems like many of the Southern cooks have a version. Being new to me, I did a little looking around to see where the chess name came from. It seems like there are a handful of opinions. The recipes go back as far as the 1700s, where there was a recipe for making cheese pie without cheese curd. Basically it describes making a custard and turning it into a pie. So that leads to the idea that chess comes from a pronunciation of cheese. Or it could be that the chess comes from chest. It is said that this pie is so sweet it can be kept in a chest rather than being refrigerated. The last idea is that chess is how somebody wrote out the pronunciation of 'jes as it in it's 'jes a pie.
Who knows?! No matter where the name came from, it is a tasty pie. It has the same custardy texture as a pumpkin pie, but without the pumpkin or spice. Instead it has a nice honey flavor that hits you as you swallow. I have read about a lemon buttermilk chess pie... I think a splash of lemon would be great with it! Maybe our next chess pie should be a honey lemon chess pie.
Honey Chess Pie
9 inch par baked pie shell (instructions below)
3/4 cup honey
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 stick + 1 T butter, softened
3 T cornmeal, preferably white
2 T all purpose flour
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
4 eggs, room temperatur
3 T lemon juice
1/3 cup heavy cream
- To par bake the crust: After rolling the dough and fitting it into the buttered pie pan, put it in the refrigerator for at least a half hour to chill. Preheat the oven to 375 F. Take dough out of the refrigerator and prick with a fork all over the bottom. Line the pie shell with parchment paper and fill with dry beans or pie weights. Bake for 10 minutes or until the edges start to set. Remove the parchment paper and pie weights and brush the bottom lightly with an egg white that has been lightly beaten with a pinch of salt added to prevent sogginess. Return to the oven for an additional fie minutes, until the crust is lightly golden brown. Let cool before filling.
- To make the filling: Preheat the oven to 350 F. Place the pie shell on a baking sheet and set aside. Place the honey, brown sugar, butter, cornmeal, flour, vanilla and cinnamon in a food processor. Pulse until the mixture is smooth. With the machine running, add the eggs, one at a time, processing until blended. Scrape the bowl after each addition. With the machine one, add the lemon juice and then the heavy cream through the feed tube. Scrape the filling into the pie shell. It will be runnier than you might expect, but it will set up. Bake for about 40 minutes, or until the edges puff up slightly and the center is firm. Let cool completely before serving.
Tip: refrigerating this pie will make it easier to cut. It tastes better at room temperature. It is suggested to chill the pie thoroughly and cut it into slices and let them stand on their plates for at least a half hour before serving.
Some other old fashioned pie recipes you will love: