Yazoo Market? Where’s that? Well, we guess that it’s (or was) in Yazoo City, Mississippi, the heart of the delta. No, not the Mississippi delta, but the famous delta, the home of the blues.
Yesterday (as we write this), we were thinking of making a quick and easy dessert for Sunday night. Something really, really, easy. And something for which we had all the ingredients on hand. This Chess pie fit the bill. Now, are you wondering what Chess pie is?
Apparently, Chess pie is a corruption of “just pie.” Or, as some people from the delta might say, “jes’ pie.” As in “What kind of pie is that?” “That’s jes’ pie,” meaning a plain pie.
Now, we had a piece of pastry dough in the freezer, pretty much already to go (basically a failed attempt at puff pastry made from a local handmade butter), so we only had to scratch out the filling. But, even if you have to make a crust, this is still a simple, easy pie.
This recipe comes from Eat, Drink, Delta, by Susan Puckett.
While we didn’t use it, we’re going to recommend using the Bouchon Bakery Pâte Brisée. It’s fast, easy, and nice to work with. Plus, it’s the best pie crust we know. For the cocoa, we used a high-quality Dutch-processed (Valrhona), but we think that any cocoa will work well in this recipe. The eggs, as always, are local and from free-range hens. Better hens mean better eggs. And, nothing but 100% pure vanilla extract is allowed. Ever.
Procedure in detail:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Place a rack in the center of the oven.
Roll pie crust. We like to roll out the pie crust between two pieces of baking parchment. It eliminates the need for flour, keeping your crust as flaky as possible. Once rolled out, fit it into a 9-inch pie pan and trim the edges.
Mix dry ingredients. In a large bowl, whisk together the cocoa and sugar. If you wish, you can sift the cocoa to eliminate the lumps (we will next time), but it’s really not necessary.
Add liquid ingredients. Add the melted butter, evaporated milk, eggs, and vanilla extract, and whisk everything together. That’s it. Your pie filling is ready.
Fill crust. Pour the filling into the prepared pie crust, scraping the bowl clean with a spatula.
Bake. Place the pie pan on a rimmed baking sheet (to catch any drips or overflow) and bake about 45 minutes. The center will still be jiggly.
Cool. Let the pie cool until it’s just warm (or perhaps jes’ warm is the correct term) before serving.
Not all desserts have to be difficult to be good, and this is a case in point. Our pie seemed to separate into two distinct layers while baking: the top part of our pie was a bit crispy and chocolaty, while the bottom part was more like a sweet custard all inside a pie crust. Even with only a few tablespoons of cocoa powder, this pie had a lot of chocolate flavor, although we’ll have to say that, overall, Chess pie is quite sweet. Think chocolate pecan pie without the pecans and you’ll have some idea of what it’s like. But for ease of preparation, this is an easy five stars.