Moist and soft, with lots of chocolate flavor, this pie is like a brownie in a pie shell. I am not sure why I picked this recipe for our friday afternoon sweet treat but it just sounded good to me. When I cut into this pie and saw the texture of the filling, I knew that this would be chocolate heaven. Your family will love you forever when you make this pie for them.
Paula Haney became famous on the strength of her Hoosier Mama’s Pie Company. Now you can take a crack at making her Chocolate Chess Pie at home.
Chocolate Chess Pie
(from Hoosier Mama Book of Pie)
Makes 1 (9-inch) pie
1 single-crust, napkin-folded All-Butter pie dough shell (recipe follows)
Pie Wash (see cook’s note)
1 stick / 115 g unsalted butter
1 cup granulated sugar (50 g less)
4 ounces / 113 g 70% bittersweet chocolate, chopped
4 large eggs
1 ½ tablespoons cornmeal
1 tablespoon vanilla paste (I used the seeds of 1 vanilla bean)
pinch kosher salt
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. Place the pie shell on a baking sheet and brush the rim with Pie Wash. Set aside.
3. Melt the butter in the top of a double boiler, or in a medium heatproof bowl set on top of a saucepan of simmering water.
4. Remove the butter from the heat and beat in the sugar until it is thoroughly incorporated. The mixture should look shiny, but not greasy. If the mixture appears greasy, continue to beat.
5. Melt the chocolate in a separate bowl in the same manner as the butter. Remove from the heat. Be sure to wipe any condensation off the bottom of the bowl, otherwise it may drip into your batter.
6. Stir the melted chocolate into the butter mixture.
7. Add the eggs one at a time, whisking to combine after each addition.
8. Add the cornmeal, vanilla paste, and salt and mix until thoroughly combined.
9. Scrape down the side and bottom of the bowl and incorporate any unmixed butter. Pour the batter into the pie shell.
10. Bake for 60 to 75 minutes, rotating 180 degrees every 20 minutes, until the top of the pie doesn’t give when pressed firmly in the middle. The pie will rise up to 1 inch above the rim of the pie tin as it bakes, then fall slowly as it cools. The finished pie may be slightly concave. The finished batter can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 days before using; it may separate as it cools so whisk it together before baking. The baked pie can be stored at room temperature for 3 to 5 days.
Cook’s note:Before we bake any of our sweet double-crust or chess pies, we like to brush the dough with equal parts whole milk and cream, a mixture we’ve christened “Pie Wash.” Simply mix equal parts whole milk and cream in a small bowl or liquid measuring cup. Give it a good stir or the cream will float on top of the mixture.
All-Butter Pie Dough
Makes 2 crusts
1 3/4 sticks unsalted butter, divided
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1/2 cup cold water
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 tablespoon granulated sugar
1. Cut the butter into 1/2-inch cubes. Freeze 5 tablespoons for 20 minutes or overnight; chill the remaining 1 1/8 sticks in the refrigerator until ready to use.
2. Stir the red wine vinegar into the cold water and set aside.
3. Combine the flour, salt and sugar in the bowl of a food processor and pulse 5 or 6 times to combine.
4. Add the chilled butter and mix for 25 to 30 seconds, until the mixture resembles coarse meal.
5. Add the frozen butter and pulse 15 to 20 times, until the butter is in pea-sized pieces.
6. Add 6 tablespoons of the vinegar water and pulse 6 times. The dough should start to look crumbly. Test the dough by squeezing a small amount in the palm of your hand. If it easily holds together, it is done. If not, add 1/2 tablespoon of the vinegar water and pulse 3 more times. Repeat this process as needed until the dough holds together.
7. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface and knead together until smooth; dough should never come together in the food processor.
8. Divide the dough into 2 equal parts and roll each into a ball. Flatten the balls slightly and wrap separately in plastic wrap. Let the dough rest in the refrigerator until ready to use, at least 20 minutes but preferably overnight.
9. To roll out dough, liberally dust your rolling surface with flour and keep a container of flour nearby.
10. Place a ball of dough on the rolling surface and flatten it halfway with the heel of your hand.
11. Rub a handful of flour over your rolling pin and pound the dough until it is half as thick as when you started. Don’t be timid; it takes more aggression than you think! Pounding the dough flattens it without working the gluten very much and softens it up for the finish rolling you are about to do.
12. Rub more flour over the rolling pin and, working out from the center; make long passes over the dough. Rotate the dough 1 to 2 inches after each pass, to make sure it isn’t sticking to the table and to help form an even circle. If the dough starts to stick, lift up one corner and scatter more flour underneath. Rub flour on the rolling pin as needed to keep it from sticking to the dough.
13. Keep rolling until the dough is 1/16 to 1/8 inch thick and is a sufficient size to cut out a circle with a 14-inch diameter (16 inches for a lattice-topped pie).
14. Cut a 14-inch circle out of the dough. At the pie shop, we use a series of commercial pizza pans as guides. At home, a pot lid, plate or bowl works just as well. Place your guide in the middle of the dough and gently cut around it with a bench scraper or paring knife.
15. Lightly coat a 9-inch pie tin with cooking spray and dust with flour. Rotate the tin to coat the side. Turn the tin over and tap out any excess flour.
16. Pick the dough circle up firmly by the edges and center onto the prepared pie tin. Tap the pie tin on the counter several times until the dough settles into it. Gently press the dough into the corners of the pie tin with your fingertips.
9. Proceed to the appropriate crimping and finishing instructions.
Napkin-fold pie shells are pretty and quick. They work best for single-crust pies that don’t require blind-baked pie crusts. We use this style on all our chess pies; we adopted the technique after seeing and tasting some wonderful chess pies at Dangerously Delicious Pies in Baltimore, Maryland, which is definitely worth a pie road trip!
1. Grab the edge of the pie dough between the thumb and index finger of your right hand. Be careful not to pull the dough up out of the pie tin as you work.
2. Gently fold a 1/2- to 1-inch section of dough over so it points toward the center of the pie shell. Place your left thumb on top of the first fold.
3. Grab a second 1/2- to 1-inch piece of pie dough between your thumb and index finger, next to the first fold, and gently fold it over like the first piece. Repeat this process all the way around the pie. The more folds you make, the rounder your pie shell will be, but large folds look appealingly rustic.
4. When you are finished with the folds, tap the pie tin against the counter several times. If the pie dough falls down into the pie tin, or unfolds and falls off the rim of the pie tin, unfold that section of dough and make adjustments. If the pie shell holds its shape, gently press the folds down onto the rim of the pie tin.
5. Place the finished napkin-fold pie shell in the refrigerator to rest for at least 20 minutes before use. Well-rested shells hold their shape the best.