Thursday, October 29, 2009

Baking Class: Chocolate Chess Pie

I'm still playing with pie crust. I didn't feel like putting too much effort into the filling, and I didn't want to go to the grocery store, so I was trying to make do with what I already had on hand. Chess pie is one of the easiest pies to make, and the ingredients are simple and I almost always have them on hand. But I still wanted to do something different, even if it was just one tiny little thing.

I've seen references to a chocolate chess pie, but hard as it is to believe, I've never had one before. I decided it was time to rectify the situation and started looking around for recipes. I mainly wanted to know how much chocolate I should add, and whether or not I had to adjust any of the other ingredients to accommodate it. Since there are as many different recipes for chess pie as there are people making it, I mainly just looked to see if there was a discernible difference between those that had chocolate and those that didn't. I didn't see anything to indicate that I should change any other ingredients, so I simply added 3 tablespoons of cocoa to the mix.

The result was even more spectacular than I had imagined it could be. Not long after I put the pie in the oven the rich, heavy aroma of baking chocolate filled the apartment so I was pretty sure it would have enough of a chocolate flavor, which was one of my concerns. I must admit to peeking into the oven about halfway through. If it was going to be a total disaster I wanted a little warning.

But it looked fine. The only difference I could see was that it was forming a much thicker top crust than I am used to seeing with the regular chess pie. But that seemed like a good thing to me; at least it looked like it would be good. After I looked, it was hard to wait until the pie was done.

And then I had to let it cool before I could taste it. That was some agony, let me tell you. It did fall in the center while it was cooling - that whole round center piece dropped a ways down, but I could see the lovely chocolate-y filling just below it so I was sure it would be just fine.

When it had finally cooled, I cut a piece and grabbed a fork. The top crust was rich and had some of that consistency that a well-baked brownie top will have. The custard was thicker than a regular chess pie, and less sweet with the cocoa, which is not a bad thing in my book. And it was definitely chocolate. And then there was just that little bitty hint of super-sweet chess-pie goodness right at the end.

The crust was not as successful. It was really tough on the bottom. Too tough to cut with a fork. I think that's because I didn't roll it out quite enough the first time so I took it out of the pie pan and rolled it out a little more. They really don't like to be overworked, that's for sure.

But it tasted fine, and there's nothing wrong with picking up a piece of pie and eating it right out of your hand, right?

For the recipe, go here and just add 3 tablespoons of cocoa to the filling.

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