Thursday, September 8, 2011

Chocolate Chess Pie and Oompa Loompas

I want to say, right from the beginning, that I am strange.  I know it (and some of you may know it too).  My brain makes weird connections between seemingly unrelated things at times, and I am not sure why.  When I am putting on mascara in the mornings, I am transported to the cosmetics department at JC Penny in my hometown.  When I am listening to Norah Jones on the radio, I think about a brief stint spent babysitting in a horse barn (don't ask).  And every time I make what I consider to be my very favorite dessert, I think of oompa loompas from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.  You know the scene where Augustus Gloop falls into the river of chocolate eventually leading to his demise?  Well, when I stir the filling for the chocolate pie I make, it never fails to remind me of that river, and I just have one thing to say...if I am going to be done in by chocolate like Augustus, I want it to be this chess pie!

This is a pie that my aunt has been making for eons.  I got the recipe from her, and she got the recipe from one of those old church cookbooks that a lot of southern (and probably other) churches put out yearly.  I am not sure who came up with the original recipe, but I know that whoever it was, they were smart and very good with pie.  

I recently made this pie for a lunch at work, and I made it on an all-nut crust to satisfy the needs of some co-workers who cannot eat foods containing gluten.  Therefore, this pie (if you follow the recipe as is) is gluten free.  You can certainly make it in a regular pie crust (I usually use an all-butter crust).  Actually, my husband prefers it in traditional pie crust because he says that the buttery crust is a nice counterpoint to the rich chocolate filling (he doesn't say it in exactly those words).  Either way, I think it is heaven!  

Poor photo...tasty pie.  The crust does get brown, just be careful that it doesn't burn.

I must tell you that this pie is not that photogenic.  My husband says it looks like a big, brown blob.  I apologize for that.  I did not use flash, but the light reflects off the crust.  Just ignore its ugliness and make it anyway!  

The crust (if you are making the nut version) is simply ground pecans, sugar, and butter mixed together and patted into a pie plate.  The crust does not get par-baked, but it does get chilled for 30 minutes prior to baking.

Crust just out of the refrigerator

The filling is melted butter, chocolate, vanilla, eggs, and sugar mixed together.  As the pie bakes, a thin, crunchy crust forms on top.  The crust is part of what makes this a "chess" pie.  This crust will begin to separate from the more fudgy filling and may even crack.  Like I said, not a pretty pie.  This is supposed to happen though.  The inside will remain moist and gooey resulting in a nice blend of textures.  Add in the nut crust, and you take texture and taste to a whole new level.  I am a firm believer that nuts better most any chocolate dessert.  

So, if you want pie or chocolate or nuts or anything evenly remotely resembling any of those, you will want to try this recipe.  You will thank you, your family will thank you, and the oompa loompas that pop into your head as you stir it up will thank you too (or maybe they only visit me).

Chocolate Chess Pie with a Pecan Crust
makes one 9-inch pie

2 1/2 cups pecans, ground in food processor
1/3 cup granulated sugar
4 tbsp butter, melted
a pinch of salt

1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 ounces unsweetened chocolate
1 stick butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

To make the crust, combine all ingredients and mix well to coat the pecans in butter.  Pat into the bottom and up the sides of a 9 inch pie plate.  Place in the refrigerator to chill for 30 minutes or while you make the filling. 

To make the filling, melt the butter and chocolate together in a double boiler (or in the microwave).  Add the sugar and vanilla to the butter mixture and stir to combine.  Add the eggs, whisking to blend.  Pour the filling into the chilled crust and place in the oven.  Bake anywhere from 35-45 minutes until a crust has formed on top and the center of the pie only jiggles very slightly when moved.  If the crust begins to get too brown, cover the edges with foil.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely or serve slightly warm with ice cream or whipped cream.



  1. This looks absolutely amazing. Is it as rich as it looks?

  2. Thanks for visiting the site. The pie is very rich. A little slice will do.