Monday, November 19, 2012

Chess Pie..."Jes" Pie, or "Chest Pie"...who knows why!








Everyone is busy, busy, busy.  I can feel the holiday spirit beginning its swirling dance.  Lists, more lists, planning, and pondering are underway for the holiday season.

Celebrating the holidays of each culture around the world is one of the true gifts of joining the food blogging community.  I enjoy with pure delight the 'friends' I have made who display their festive tables, recipes, and family stories from all over the world.

Whether it is the recent Diwali celebration, Canadian Thanksgiving, or the upcoming U.S. Thanksgiving, getting insight into the wonderful ways family share their times together is only good for the soul of this world, isn't it?

And...by reading the world news, some good soul searching and cultural understanding of one another is sorely needed. It is indeed difficult to give thanks when so many innocent lives in both Israel and Palestine are so frightened and powerless.

We sincerely give thanks for our security and stability and wish for that gift of peace to those parts of the world that are fighting a mighty fight to iron out plans that will bring an end to the fighting escalating in the Middle East.






Recently, Patrick had a yearning for something sweet.  When this happens the pantry is raided and eventually ingredients are found for some concoction or another.

"I haven't had Chess Pie in a while," he mused.  "I think we have the ingredients for a Chess Pie."

Chess Pie?  In the many many years I have known this man, not once have I ever heard him mention Chess Pie.  



"I have never had Chess Pie and don't know the first thing about it," I replied.  And off he went, happy to whip up a dessert that I knew nothing about.

The history behind Chess Pie is a very elusive one.  No one seems to know how this recipe came about.  This, of course, has opened doors for all sorts of creative folklore speculation.

Some say gentlemen were served this sweet pie as they retreated to a room to play chess. That is a rather boring folklore attempt so another story was concocted...

How about...the name was derived from Southerners’ dialect: It’s jes’ pie (it’s just pie).  That account has a better storyline to it but...still a little boring.

Yet another story emerged that suggests  the dessert is so high in sugar that it kept well in pie chests at room temperature and was therefore called “chest pie.” Southern drawl slurred the name into chess pie. 

Or, perhaps, a lemony version of the pie was so close to the traditional English lemon curd pie, often called “cheese” pie, that chess pie became its american name.

Take your pick!  Which story would you choose?






Who knows!  The history of this pie certainly seems to have been lost.  Having grown up in the south, I had never even heard of it.  

In any case, this is a quick, pretty little pie...very easy to make and could adorn a Thanksgiving table if the search for pie alternatives is still not crossed off someone's list.


Chess Pie


Ingredients

  • 1/2 (15-ounce) package refrigerated piecrusts
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cornmeal
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup butter or margarine, melted
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 large eggs, lightly beaten

Preparation

Fit piecrust into a 9-inch pieplate according to package directions; fold edges under, and crimp.
Line pastry with aluminum foil, and fill with pie weights or dried beans.
Bake at 425° for 4 to 5 minutes. Remove weights and foil; bake 2 more minutes or until golden. Cool.
Stir together sugar and next 7 ingredients until blended. Add eggs, stirring well. Pour into piecrust.
Bake at 350° for 50 to 55 minutes, shielding edges with aluminum foil after 10 minutes to prevent excessive browning. Cool completely on a wire rack.
Coconut Chess Pie: Prepare filling as directed above; stir in 1 cup toasted flaked coconut before pouring into piecrust. Bake as directed above.

27 comments:

  1. mmmm! Look amazing Sarah!! love your pics always beautiful!!

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  2. I've never heard of chess pie! it looks stunning! so delicious, wouldn't it be nice to tear up those lists and stay at home and eat a large piece of pie!
    Mary x

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    1. Better yet...tear up those lists and hop on a plane for a Xmas in another culture! We're thinking about it for next year!

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  3. I want this pie. Now. And I love your pie dish. Happy Thanksgiving to you and the family!

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    1. Happy Thanksgiving to you too Sue! And...that pie plate is Patrick's pick from the pottery shop at Silver Dollar City in Branson, Missouri. He loves it.

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  5. I adore chess pie and your version looks so delicious! Stunning pictures as always. Hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

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  6. I think it was once called a Chest Pie because of that whopping amount of sugar. I love that your husband wanted some and made it himself.
    Enjoy your holidays, free from teaching.

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  7. Delicious,very!
    I love your pie.

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  8. Quite an interesting pie with what at first sight seem like basic ingredients. I like it as it seems to be easy to whip up without much fuss. Love the great images.

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    1. He did whip it up quite quickly and easily. Not too many fussy ingredients...

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  9. It looks like a delicious little pie.

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  10. Grew up in the northern midwest, live in CA and never heard of it! Appears it would be delicious, especially a lemon version. Have a wonderful holiday Sarah!

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    1. I know! Grew up in the deep south, lived in the north, east, midwest...never heard of it either! P. is from the midwest and said he had always heard of chess pie...

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  11. I've never really paid any attention to chess pie before this post, and you've piqued my curiosity! Sounds like a pie I would like, and therefore it's Jess pie!

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  12. I've been making a similar pie every Thanksgiving/Christmas holiday for the past 20 years. The recipe is actually called Buttermilk Pie & originated from my husband's grandmother who had passed away when he was an early teen. His great aunt was in possession of the recipe & she gave it to me shortly after we married. The recipe itself is a treasure to me because it is typewritten on a small index card in the font of an old manual typewriter with a hand written note from great aunt Thelma. It would be of no worth to anyone outside of our family but to me it is a priceless piece of nostalgia. The taste of the pie is much like a chess pie since the buttermilk is almost the same as the milk mixed with the white vinegar. It's a pie requested by my husband every holiday season. Hope you have a happy one with your family!

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    1. Passing on recipes like that was what started food blogging for me. I was trying to cook my way through family recipes so I could capture them in words, recipes, and photos. You must love that little index card with the hand written note. So sweet.

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  13. I do love myself some Chess pie - I really hope the version of the story that's true is the 'jes' pie one. Because I can totally hear that in a Texas drawl in my head

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    1. Me too, Rooth...can't you just hear it down here. It's "jess" pie!!

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  14. This pie is absolutely gorgeous, Sarah! A perfect pie to serve over the holidays! Wishing you and yours a wonderful Thanksgiving!

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  15. It's absolutely 'jes’ pie'!. But you have to say it in that Southern way that means you are actually fishing for a compliment on that pie. My gramma used to serve lemon chess pie with apple slices on top. GREG

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  16. I've always loved the sound of Chess Pie, without *quite* knowing what it was! Thanks for the recipe! My curiosity is (almost) satisfied... I think I need to whip one up myself. :)

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  18. thanks for share.

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