Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Christmas Chess Pie

Last Christmas I made dozens of chess pies to give. Each cost less than $1. Chess pie is sinfully rich but employs basic ingredients that go on sale during the holidays. The gift of a pie or cake leaves a bigger impression than a plate of cookies, however delicious they may be. It's also a lot quicker. Last year my salvage grocer had a closeout of "boughten" crusts--each two-pack cost 50 cents. To support the flimsy tins, I placed each pie in a wicker plate holder (yard sale). I swathed each package in after-Christmas-priced cellophane and cinched it with raffia and a tag.

Here's the recipe my family uses:

1/2 cup softened butter (can use margarine, but don't overbeat)
1 Tbsp. vinegar
3 eggs, beaten
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. flour
1 tsp. cornmeal
1- 1/2 cups sugar
9-inch pie crust, unbaked

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Mix all the ingredients well. Pour into pie shell. Bake until the top is browned. Turn heat down to 200 degrees and bake for another 40 minutes.

Origin of the name "chess pie" is a mystery. I've heard that a frontier wife, when asked the name of this rich dessert, replied "jes' pie." Others speculate that its high sugar content made it last longer than other desserts in the traditional pie chest, leading to the name "chest pie."


Mrs.Garcia said...

I enjoy reading your blog. I gain so much information just from reading your blog.
Thank you for the yummy recipe.
I can't wait to make this for my family and I to try.

Meredith said...

Thanks, what a nice compliment!

Anonymous said...

Meredith, Really nice blog, I would like to know how long does the pie take to brown at 300 degrees? Sounds like a nice pie to bring to Christmas parties too. Thanks.

Meredith said...

Depends on your oven, but I set my timer at 25 minutes and keep peeking in the window every five minutes after. Generally, between 30 and 40 minutes total.