Chocolate Chess Pie
Chocolate Chess Pie is a classic Southern recipe; a cross between brownie and chocolate pudding, it’s baked right into a flaky pie crust and is a holiday must!
We’re smack dab in the middle of summer and fruit pie season, but today I’m coming at you with a totally new-to-me recipe: chocolate chess pie. Chess pie is a total staple in Southern kitchens, but I had never heard of it until Christine, a BEB reader, sent me this recipe for chocolate chess pie a couple of years ago. She said that her family makes it for Thanksgiving and Christmas every single year, which means it had to be absolutely fabulous.
Christine said this recipe is from the Angus Barn restaurant in Raleigh, North Carolina and that the only thing she didn’t love about it was that the filling was placed in an unbaked pie shell, and she wondered if it would be better in a partially baked crust.
That’s exactly how I made it, and this Pittsburgh girl could not have been more smitten with the combination of gooey chocolate and flaky pie crust!
How Do You Make Chocolate Chess Pie?
It could not be simpler!
The first thing you do is prepare your pie crust, and while I love using my very favorite pie crust recipe, feel free to use your own favorite recipe, or even a store-bought pie crust if you prefer.
Then you mix together the filling, which only requires two bowls and about five minutes of your time. It’s very similar to brownie batter – melted chocolate and butter, mixed together with a couple of eggs, sugar, vanilla and salt.
Some recipes use cocoa powder or things like sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk or buttermilk, but I just adore the simplicity of this particular recipe.
What Does a Chocolate Chess Pie Taste Like?
While traditional chess pie is often described as tasting like yellow cake batter, or the gooey layer of a gooey butter cake, it’s chocolate counterpart tastes very much like a cross between a fudgy brownie (complete with that crackly top!) and very firm chocolate pudding.
I served it with a simple homemade whipped cream, but you could also top it with chocolate whipped cream, or even meringue!
Why Is It Called Chess Pie?
I couldn’t find a definitive origin of the name, but this pie dates wayyyyy back to the 1700s.
The most likely explanation of the name is that since the English lemon curd pie filling is very close to lemon chess pie, the word “chess” may be an Americanization of the English word “cheese”, referring to curd pie.
Do You Need to Refrigerate Chocolate Chess Pie? Can it Be Frozen?
You do not need to refrigerate chocolate chess pie; I kept mine at room temperature for up to three days (that’s as long as the leftovers lasted!) without issue. There is enough sugar in the recipe that it should be fine at room temperature. If you prefer to eat it chilled, however, you can absolutely pop it into the refrigerator.
As for freezing, I have yet to find a definitive yes or no answer, as I have not tried to do so myself. Some claim that the filling will be compromised when it is thawed, while others claim it will freeze just fine if it is baked first, then wrapped tightly with plastic wrap and placed in a freezer ziploc bag. Thaw in the refrigerator before serving.
I am so thrilled to have a new Southern recipe in my kitchen tool belt; thank you to Christine for sharing its deliciousness with me!
If you’re a chocolate lover, you are going to be over-the-moon in love with this recipe!
If You Like This Chocolate Chess Pie, Try These:
Two years ago: Fancy Pants Coleslaw
Six years ago: Banana Split Ice Cream Cake
Eleven years ago: Bacon, Cheddar and Green Onion Scones
Chocolate Chess Pie
For the Pie Crust
- 1¼ cups (156.25 g) all-purpose flour, divided
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- ½ teaspoon (0.5 teaspoon) salt
- 6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into ¼-inch slices
- ¼ cup (51.25 g) chilled solid vegetable shortening, cut into 2 pieces
- 2 tablespoons vodka, cold
- 2 tablespoons ice water
For the Filling
- ½ cup (113.5 g) unsalted butter
- 2 ounces (56.7 g) semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
- 1 cup (200 g) granulated sugar
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Dash of salt
- Make the Pie Crust: Process ¾ cups of the flour, the sugar and salt together in a food processor until combined, about 2 one-second pulses. Add the butter and shortening and process until a homogenous dough just starts to collect in uneven clumps, about 7 to 10 seconds (the dough will resemble cottage cheese curds with some very small pieces of butter remaining, but there should be no uncoated flour). Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula and redistribute the dough evenly around the bowl. Add the remaining ½ cup flour and pulse until the mixture is evenly distributed around the bowl and the mass of dough has been broken up, 4 to 6 quick pulses. Empty the mixture into a medium bowl.
- Sprinkle the vodka and water over the mixture. With a rubber spatula, use a folding motion to mix, pressing down on the dough until it is slightly tacky and sticks together. Flatten the dough into a 4-inch disk, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 45 minutes, or up to 2 days.
- Remove the dough from the refrigerator and roll out on a generously floured (up to ¼ cup) work surface to a 12-inch circle. Roll the dough loosely around a rolling pin and unroll into a 9-inch pie plate, leaving at least a 1-inch overhang on each side. Working around the circumference, ease the dough into the plate by gently lifting edge of the dough with one hand while pressing into the plate bottom with other hand. Leave the overhanging dough in place; refrigerate until the dough is firm, about 30 minutes.
- Trim the overhanging dough to ½ inch beyond the lip of the pie plate. Fold the overhang under itself; the folded edge should be flush with edge of pie plate. Flute the dough or press the tines of a fork against dough to flatten it against the rim of pie plate. Refrigerate the dough-lined plate until firm, about 15 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
- Remove pie pan from refrigerator, line crust with aluminum foil or parchment paper, and fill with pie weights (I use this weight) or dried beans, filling the whole way up to the rim of the pie plate. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove foil/parchment and weights, cover the edges of the pie crust with a ring of foil or pie crust shield, rotate plate, and bake 5 to 15 additional minutes, until bottom crust is golden brown. Remove pie plate from oven (keep the pie crust shield on).
- Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees F.
- Make the Filling: In a small bowl, microwave the butter and chocolate together in 30-second intervals, stirring after each, until completely melted and smooth; set aside.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the sugar, eggs, vanilla and salt. Add the chocolate mixture and whisk to thoroughly incorporate. Pour the mixture into the pie shell.
- Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the edges are set and the center is just slightly jiggly. Cool to room temperature and serve with whipped cream. The pie can be kept at room temperature, covered, for up to 3 days.
Did you make this recipe?
Leave a review below, then snap a picture and tag @thebrowneyedbaker on Instagram so I can see it!
I truly enjoyed making this pie for the first time and looking forward to making it again. I’d never had a chocolate chess pie til I moved to the south.
I made this pie today and the only changes i made were adding 3 tsp of coffee and 1 tsp kahlua…. But those two made the chocolate flavor really intense. The pie’s texture had the tezture2 of an undercooked brownie, but I’m not complaining – my family of 3 finished this pie in 1.5 days. It is really easy and decadent. I tried another recipe that use evaporated milk, and that recipe had a much different texture, and not in a good way. I’ll definitely make this recipe again.
No flour in the filling mix at all?
I live in Raleigh but have never been to The Angus Barn (too $$!). Many of my friends eat there and the chocolate chess pie is a must-have. When we moved here I was surprised that chocolate chess pie is probably more popular than pumpkin or pecan pie.
My daughter’s school’s PTF bakes two pies for each faculty & staff member for Thanksgiving each year and the chocolate pies go first. People argue over them.
I’ll be making four of these tomorrow for this year’s event!
can i leave out or substitute something else for the vodka since i have friends that will not have anything with alcohol in it !
I cheated and used a frozen crust. I only had unsweetened chocolate squares. It was wonderful. I’ve had the pleasure of eating at The Angus Barn in Raleigh and ate the chocolate chess pie there, so yummy. 😊❤😊
Which whipped cream recipe did you use??
Hi Carolyn, I used the one from the tres leches cake (it’s heavy on sugar and everyone always LOVES it when I put it on pies!): https://www.browneyedbaker.com/tres-leches-cake-recipe/
I was so happy to see that you made and loved this recipe! Thanks for experimenting with blind baking the crust. I will try that the next time I make this pie, which might be today!
Looking at this pie has me at the point of drooling. As usual, you did not disappoint me. You have some great recipes. I also love your root beer baked beans!! Thanks Michelle!!
I am from NC & have eaten at the iconic Angus Barn a few times! I ALWAYS order this as my dessert but my sister in law makes a chocolate chess pie for Christmas dinner which rivals the one at Angus Barn. We never have leftovers to freeze so can’t give any advice on quality when thawed. If you ever visit Raleigh, you must have a meal at Angus Barn! The complimentary cheese & relish tray is a favorite part of the meal but you have to have restraint in order to save room for the entree & dessert. Check out the history section on their website — it’s a legendary landmark with a fascinating past!
I make multiple chocolate chess pies every year for the holidays and they freeze really well, baked and placed in plastic freezer bags. Your recipe is pretty similar to mine except I use half brown sugar and half granulated sugar. When I was young my best friend’s mom used to let us eat this pie for breakfast!
Thanks for the tip, Suzanne! I love to hear about traditions (especially pie for breakfast!) :)
Can’t wait to try this recipe. It sounds quite easy for a clumsy person like me. Thank you for sharing the recipe!
This is a recipe I have to try. Knowing you, you’ll probably come up with a version that includes peanut butter – maybe adding PB chips?
Well that sounds delicious! I can’t do any peanut butter baking anymore because Joseph has a severe allergy, but someone should try this and let me know how it is!
@BEB thinking of making these in a 9 x
12 in pan to be cut into squares for a picnic. I only want to put crust in bottom of pan. Thoughts? I’m a pretty savvy baker, but just want to run this by you and/or the BEB community. Thanks!
What a great idea! From Michelle’s pictures, the filling looks like it bakes a little away from the crust which means it’s a firmer filling, so I’m thinking you could make this with only a bottom crust in a 9 x 13 pan to be cut into squares. I may copy your idea with that same intent. It’s worth a try.
Hi Kelly, I think that would work just fine! Great idea! Enjoy :)
This a tradition in our family to make for Thanksgiving. We call it Fudge Pie! It’s terrific with a store bought chocolate pie crust too! We double the recipe if using a large deep dish pie crust and it works perfectly. Such a delicious recipe and thanks for posting!
Amazing recipe! I know it from apple pie! Delicious!
I’ve tried this before but never knew what it was called! The recipe is simpler than I’d expect. Can’t wait to give it a shot!
YUM! This pie looks stunning and so chocolatey! Can’t wait to try this recipe!