Have you seen those brownie pans that are designed so that every piece is a crusty edge piece? Well what about something for those who like those more rare gooey middle squares?? Where's our special pan?? Well, I think I've figured it out, and the answer is... Chocolate Chess Pie. Yep, this pie filling is pretty much all oozy, chocolatey, "middle" pieces with none of the crispier bites. PLUS there is the added bonus of a buttery pastry crust. A double temptation that might even win over those stalwart edge lovers.
I've talked previously about Chess pie and its nomenclature speculations here. The chocolate cousin, however, is a little bit different. Though it lives up to its name in basic ingredients and simplicity of preparation, I'm not sure I would call it a true Nothing-in-the-House pie, the way regular Chess pie is, for chocolate was historically expensive and a bit of a luxury. According to Nancie McDermott in her Southern Pies (buy this cookbook, already!), chocolate is a relative newcomer on the Southern pie scene. Though as an ingredient, it appears in cookbooks such as The Virginia House-Wife in 1824, it isn't used in pies until the early twentieth century. Even so, it is still a straightforward Southern classic that is just divine.
I made up my recipe from a few different versions. Originally I used one cup of sugar, but I'm reducing it to 3/4 cup here, as it was just a tad sweet for me. But as my co-worker Helen matter-of-factly said, "Chess pie is supposed to be sweet," so adjust according to your taste. It would also be delicious with a splash of bourbon or a dash of orange zest.
Nothing-in-the-House Pie Crust, halved
1/2 c. (1 stick) butter
2 oz. (2 squares) bittersweet chocolate (I used 60%)
3/4 c. white sugar
1 Tblsp. yellow cornmeal
2 large eggs, beaten well
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. salt
1. Prepare half of the Nothing-in-the-House pie crust as per the directions. Chill dough at least 1 hour before rolling out and fitting into a greased and floured 9-inch pie pan. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Put the rolled and fitted crust back in the fridge while you prepare the filling.
2. Place the butter and chocolate in a small saucepan and over low heat, cook until they melt together and make a smooth chocolate sauce, about 5-7 minutes. Remove from the heat and pour into a medium bowl.
3. Add the sugar and cornmeal to the chocolate mixture and stir until well combined. Then add the eggs, vanilla, and salt. Stir with a wooden spoon until evenly mixed.
4. Pour the filling into the pie crust and place the pie on the bottom shelf of the oven. Bake until the pie filling has puffed and formed a crusty top, and crust is golden brown, about 50-60 minutes. Remove pie from oven and let cool until still slightly warm, about 30 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature with a scoop of bourbon whipped cream.
I brought this pie into work yesterday and shared it with my co-workers who gave it rave reviews. Though it was very very good, I think we all needed to indulge in a little stress eating to take our minds off of the election happening later. But it all turned out rather well, and it looks like we'll have a pie-loving president for another four years!