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Chess Pie Recipes

Chess Pies are economical pies made with little more than eggs, milk, butter, sugar, and a sprinkling of golden cornmeal. Use a commercial refrigerated or frozen pie crust. Check for doneness after the minimum baking time by gently shaking the pie. The center should be set with a slight jiggle.

The origin of chess pie remains uncertain. The most plausible and generally accepted origin of the name is this. Chess Pie was originally a cake or a tart of light pastry containing cheese. Over the years, the cheese disappeared from the recipe, but the word 'chess,' a corruption of the word 'cheese,' has remained in the name to this day.

Chess pie has nothing to do with the game of chess.

I put chess pie recipes on this chess game site because I enjoy a bit of tongue-in-cheek humor. ;-)


Makes: 1 9-inch pie

  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons shortening (I used Crisco)
  • 11/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 egg
  • 6 tablespoons water, separated
  • 1/2 teaspoon vinegar

Cut butter and shortening into 1/4-inch cubes. Place in bowl and refrigerate at least 30 minutes.

In large bowl, place flour, salt and sugar, and whisk until well mixed.

Remove butter and shortening from refrigerator. Using a wire pastry blender, cut butter and shortening into flour until texture resembles coarse, pea-sized crumbs. Don’t overmix.

In a small bowl, beat egg, 3 tablespoons of water and vinegar. Sprinkle over flour crumbs, and mix with a fork.

Add more water – up to three tablespoons, one at a time – until dough begins to hold together. It’s important not to overwork the dough.

Turn out dough onto a flat, dry surface and form into a disk. It will seem slightly dry, but the texture will improve after the next step. Place dough on a plate, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least an hour and as long as overnight.

After the dough has chilled, roll out two-thirds of it on a dry, floured surface. Place crust into pie pan, being careful not to stretch. Cut off excess. Roll out remaining third of the dough, then cut shapes using small cookie cutter. I used a leaf pattern. Overlap the leaves on the rim, attaching by placing a drop of water on the rim of the crust. Cut out three leaves for the top, and place them on a saucer. Refrigerate the crust and leaves for at least an hour.

  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 5 large eggs
  • 13/4 cups sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons grated lemon zest (2 lemons worth)
  • 4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons cornmeal

In a small bowl, melt butter in microwave. Place in refrigerator until cool but not set.

In a large bowl, whisk eggs until smooth. Add sugar and salt, and whisk again.

Add lemon zest and juice and whisk. Add cornmeal, and whisk to remove some of the graininess.

Drizzle in the melted butter, whisking the whole time.

  • 1 egg white
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • Fresh nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar

Heat baking sheet in a 450-degree oven.

In a small bowl, whisk egg white and water until smooth.

Remove baking sheet from oven and place on a hot pad. Remove crust from refrigerator, and place pie pan on heated cookie sheet. (Note: I used a metal pie plate, so I don’t know what would happen if a chilled glass dish were placed on a hot cookie sheet.)

Brush the bottom of the crust with egg-white mixture. (This helps the crust remain flaky when the custard filling is added.)

Whisk the filling until smooth, and pour into crust. It should come almost to the rim. Sprinkle grated nutmeg on the top. Place the cutout leaves for the center directly on the cookie sheet, near the front of the oven – not on the pie.

Open the oven door, and carefully place the baking sheet and filled pie crust on the middle rack. Move slowly, so you don’t splash filling onto the unbaked crust.

Close the oven door, reduce heat to 325 degrees. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove the leaves for the top when they are golden brown, using tongs, and place on a cooling rack.

Bake pie another 15 minutes. If the top is golden brown, remove pie. If not, continue baking, checking every three minutes. When the pie is done – a knife inserted in the center comes out clean – remove from oven, place baked leaves in the center and sprinkle top with 1/2 teaspoon of sugar. Place on a wire rack and cool for one hour.

Refrigerate pie for at least three hours for the custard to set properly. Before serving, bring to room temperature for at least two hours.

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 5 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2/3 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup butter or margarine, melted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 unbaked 9-inch pastry shell

Combine sugar and flour in a large bowl; add eggs and buttermilk, stirring until blended. Stir in butter and vanilla, and pour into unbaked pastry shell. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes or until set. Cool in a wire rack. Yield: one 9-inch pie.

  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3 tablespoons cornmeal
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup butter or margarine, melted
  • 1 (3 1/2-ounce) can flaked coconut
  • 1 (15 1/4-ounce) can crushed pineapple, well drained
  • 1 unbaked 9-inch pastry shell

Combine first 4 ingredients in a large bowl; add eggs and vanilla, stirring until blended, Stir in butter, coconut and pineapple; pour into unbaked pastry shell. Bake at 350 for 1 hour or until set, covering with aluminum foil after 40 minutes. Cool on a wire rack. Yield: one 9-inch pie.

  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • Juice of 2 lemons
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 tablespoon plain yellow cornmeal

Place a baking sheet in the oven and preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Beat eggs until light. Beat the sugar into the eggs a little at a time, trying to dissolve the sugar as you go. Add lemon juice, lemon zest and melted butter and mix thoroughly. Pour into a regular pie crust - a shallow frozen crust is just fine. Place on the baking sheet in the preheated oven and bake 5 minutes. Sprinkle cornmeal on the surface of the pie and bake 30 to 35 minutes more, until pie is lightly browned and set. Remove to a rack and let cool completely. (Note: We are fortunate to be the first to publish this original creation by the notable Mr. Thomas Longshaw. Keep the recipes coming!)

  • 2 sticks margarine
  • 1 box light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • pinch salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup chopped pecans

Melt 2 sticks margarine on low heat in sauce pan. Pour in 1 box light brown sugar. Add the remaining ingredients in order shown above. Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt together. Pour into greased 13x9x2 pan. Bake in 300 degree oven for 40-50 minutes or until done. Cut into bars and roll in powdered sugar. Keep in air tight container.

  • 1 (5-ounce) can evaporated milk
  • 2 (1-ounce) squares unsweetened chocolate
  • 1/4 cup butter or margarine
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 12 unbaked (3-inch) tart shells

Combine first 3 ingredients in a small saucepan; cook over low heat, stirring frequently, until chocolate and butter melt. Cool slightly. Combine eggs and sugar in a large bowl; add chocolate mixture and vanilla, stirring until blended. Pour into tart shells; place filled pies on a baking sheet. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes or until set. Cool on a wire rack. Yield: 1 dozen tarts.

For me, chess is a language...

Garry Kasparov