It’s Thanksgiving Eve my friends and I’m coming in hot with one last holiday dessert to tempt your taste buds. If you’re like me, you’ve got turkeys to brine, stuffing to stuff and potatoes to mash. There’s a whole lot to be done so I’ll keep this short and sweet and get right to the good stuff. Every turkey day feast deserves an unforgettable dessert which brings me to this dark chocolate chess pie. I know, I know. Thanksgiving is traditionally all about pecans and pumpkins but I’m that girl that’s like, where’s the chocolate?? I’m feeling pretty grateful for this dark and decadent, rich and fudgy chocolate chess pie right about now and I can’t wait to tell you all about it.
What is chess pie?
Chess pie is a traditional southern dessert sometimes called “sugar pie”. It’s a custard like dessert set in a single pastry crust and made with simple pantry staples. If you have butter, sugar, eggs and chocolate in your kitchen then you probably have everything you need to make this chocolate chess pie. This old fashioned favorite comes in a variety of flavors like honey, lemon and buttermilk. But since chocolate is always number one in my book, I’m giving this classic a chocolate twist. It’s rich and fudgy and that crackly top gets me every time. It’s like a giant rich, fudgy brownie in pie form and what’s not to love about that?
This pie is pretty much foolproof and comes together quickly with just a handful of ingredients. The pie crust is made in a food processor so it’s quick and easy and clean up is a breeze. Check the list below for the ingredients you need to make this decadent dark chocolate chess pie.
- Homemade pie crust. Sure, you could use a store bought pie crust but I highly recommend you bake a crust from scratch. I’m a big fan of an all butter pie crust and we’re using Danish Creamery European Style Butter for the very best pie crust ever. The taste cannot be beat and it’s so worth the extra step. I always keep plenty of Danish Creamery butter in the fridge, especially during the holidays. It’s great for baking desserts, spreading on dinner rolls and drizzling on veggies.
- Butter. I wouldn’t dream of making an all butter pie crust with anything but Danish Creamery European Style Butter. Their butter has 85% butterfat which makes for a buttery, extra flakey pie crust. Most European butters only have 82-83% butterfat making Danish Creamery the cream of the crop! You’ll be glad to know that Danish Creamery’s cows are humanely raised, munching on grass in wide open fields just as nature intended. Not only are the cattle healthier, but they produce a high quality, delicious milk that is the cornerstone of Danish Creamery’s premium butters. Take it from me…it’s just better butter!
- Chocolate. You can make this pie with either dark or semi sweet chocolate. The choice is yours but break out the good stuff. With so few ingredients in this chocolate chess pie, quality matters!
- Eggs. No substitute for eggs in this recipe. Be sure your eggs are at room temperature so they incorporate nicely into the filling.
- Sugar. This pie is perfectly sweetened with a cup of granulated sugar. I like to use superfine sugar for the best texture.
- Cocoa powder. This recipe calls for unsweetened cocoa powder in addition to the chopped chocolate. I like to use Dutch process for a deep, dark flavor.
- Cornstarch. Traditional chess pie can be thickened with a bit of flour, cornmeal or cornstarch. We use cornstarch in this recipe for the perfect taste and texture.
- Vanilla. Be sure to use pure vanilla extract for the best flavor.
- Salt. Just a pinch goes a long way towards balancing the sweetness of the pie.
- Whipped cream. A dollop of freshly whipped cream is the perfect topper for this chocolate chess pie. For an extra fancy touch, pipe swirls on top of the pie using a large star tip and piping bag. Sprinkle it with chocolate shavings for a pretty presentation.
How to make the best flakey pie crust
Full disclosure. I haven’t always been a fan of pie. Mostly because making pie crust seems so time consuming. Then I stumbled across this recipe from Cooks Illustrated. The crust is made in just 5 minutes using a food processor. Let me tell you….this pie crust really is fool proof and I’ve got a freezer stash of pie dough to prove it. I wanted all the delicious flavor of an all butter pie crust so I swapped out the vegetable shortening in the recipe with more of Danish Creamery’s European Style Butter. The flavor is unbelievable and the dough rolls out like a dream. See those little bits of butter throughout the dough…that makes for one seriously flakey pie crust! Follow the steps below for the perfect pie crust every time.
- Don’t skip the vodka. Okay, it may seem a little out there to use vodka in pie dough, but it’s a game changer. The alcohol in the vodka adds moisture to the dough without activating more gluten formation. It’s brilliant!
- Chill the pie crust before baking. To prevent your crust from shrinking in the pie pan, chill the crust after you have crimped the edges for 15 minutes. Put the crust straight into a preheated oven.
- Don’t forget the pie weights! To prevent your crust from puffing up and sliding down the sides of the pan, line the dough with parchment paper and then fill with pie weights. You can use actual ceramic pie weights or kidney beans and rice work just as well in a pinch. Once the crust is par-baked, use the parchment paper to carefully life the pie weights up and out of the pie tin.
- Bake the pie on a cookie sheet. Once you are ready to fill the pie with the chocolate batter, place the pie tin on a baking sheet so you can transfer it easily to the oven without spilling any of the filling over the edge of your pretty golden brown pie crust.
- Cool completely before slicing. Waiting for the pie to cool is not my favorite part of the pie making process, but you will have to wait 2-3 hours to slice the pie or you’ll have more of a molten chocolate brownie situation on your hands. For clean, crisp edges, use a sharp knife and clean it with warm water and a dishtowel before making the next cut.
Tips for the best pie
I haven’t always been the biggest fan of pie in general but I’ll always make an exception for a slice of this dark and decadent chocolate chess pie. This rich and chocolatey pie might look fancy, but it’s actually super easy to make. Read on for a few tips and tricks to guarantee pie success.
- Prep the crust in advance. If you are making this pie for the holidays, I highly recommend making the pie crust ahead of time. You can make the crust up to three days in advance and store it in the refrigerator until you are ready to bake your pie. And the dough freezes beautifully so double the batch and stock your freezer for a rainy day.
- Don’t over mix the filling. To get that crinkly, crackly brownie top we all know and love, it’s important not to over mix the batter. Mix until the ingredients are incorporated well but don’t be tempted to over do it.
- Use a pie guard or foil to cover the crust. Because we pre-bake the pie crust (no soggy bottoms here!), the edges of the pie will already be a buttery, golden brown when you add the filling to the pie. I like to bake the pie for about 10 minutes with the filling and once the crust is the perfect color I’ll cover it with a pie guard. If you don’t have a pie guard handy, use strips of aluminum foil to cover the edges of the pie.
- Bake ahead and chill the pie overnight. This chocolate chess pie makes the perfect make ahead holiday dessert. I love a dessert that you can make the day before and serve straight from the fridge. It makes holiday entertaining a breeze!
How to serve chocolate chess pie
This chocolate chess pie is positively delicious all on it’s own, but if you ask me a slice of pie is not complete without a generous dollop of freshly whipped cream or a sprinkle of powdered sugar. You can serve this pie at room temperature but I much prefer it chilled. Store any leftovers tightly covered in the refrigerator for up to three days.
I hope this dark chocolate chess pie makes its way on to your holiday dinner table this Thanksgiving. This is one dangerously delicious pie so I fully expect you to go back for seconds (or thirds!). Pick up some Danish Creamery European Style Butter and have some fun in the kitchen baking this pie for the ones you love. Here’s hoping your holiday is filled with great food, good company and lots of pie!
Happy Thanksgiving friends and happy baking!!
If you like this Dark Chocolate Chess Pie, you’ll also love:
- Brown Butter Chocolate Pecan Tart
- Chocolate Pecan Pie Cookie Bars
- The Best Brown Butter Brownies
- Chocolate Hazelnut Tart
A rich and fudgy dark chocolate chess pie made in a homemade, all butter crust. This delicious twist on the classic southern pie will be the hit of your holiday table! Serve chilled with a dollop of freshly whipped cream.
Chocolate Brownie Filling
- 1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter
- 3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
- 1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 3 large eggs, room temperature
- 2 tablespoons Dutch-process cocoa powder, sifted
- 1 1/2 teaspoons instant coffee
- 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 3 tablespoons heavy cream
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Pie Crust from Cook’s Illustrated
- 2 1/2 cups (325 g) unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon table salt
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 1/4 cups (285 g) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch slices
- 1/4 cup cold vodka
- 1/4 cup cold water
Pie Crust from Cook’s Ilustrated
*Note: This recipe makes two pie crusts but only one is needed for the chess pie. Wrap the second round of pie crust dough in two layers of plastic wrap and refrigerate or freeze for another pie.
- In a food processor fitted with a blade, process 1 1/2 cups flour, salt, and sugar until combined, about 2 or 3 pulses. Add butter and shortening and process until the dough just starts to pull together in large clumps, about 15 seconds (dough will resemble cottage cheese curds and all of the flour should be coated). Scrape down the sides of the bowl with rubber spatula and spread the dough evenly around the blade. Add the remaining 1 cup of flour and pulse until mixture is evenly distributed around the bowl and the dough has been broken up, about 4 to 6 quick pulses. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl.
- Sprinkle vodka and water over the dough. Using a folding motion with a rubber spatula, press down on dough until dough is slightly tacky and sticks together. Use a bench scrapper to divide dough into two even balls and use your hands to flatten each into a 4-inch disk. Wrap each disk in plastic wrap and refrigerate 1 hour or up to 2 days.
- Adjust the oven rack to the bottom third of the oven and place a baking steel or pizza stone on it. Pre-heat oven to 425˚ F.
- Lightly flour a cold work surface and roll out the chilled dough into a circle of about 11 inches in diameter. Transfer the rolled-out dough to the 9-inch pie pan. Fold under excess dough and crimp the edge. Use a fork to dock the bottom and the sides of the dough.
- Line the pan with one big piece of parchment paper, and fill it with pie weights to the top edge (ex. dried beans, rice or reusable ceramic pie weights).
- Place the pan on the baking steep/pizza stone in the oven to par-bake the crust for about 15 minutes. Remove the pie plate and carefully lift out the pie weights. Replace the pie crust into the oven for another 3-4 minutes, until it starts to turn a golden color.
- Remove the pie crust and let cool on a wire rack for an hour.
Chocolate Brownie Filling
- Adjust the oven rack to the bottom third of the oven and pre-heat oven to 325˚ F. When the oven is ready, start combining all of the ingredients so that the pie can go in the oven immediately after being mixed together.
- Melt the chocolate and butter in the microwave or in a double boiler on the stove. If microwaving, melt the butter and chocolate in 20 second increments and stir between each. Set aside to slightly cool.
- Whisk together the granulated and brown sugars and cornstarch. Add in the 3 eggs and whisk until the mixture lightens in color (1-2 minutes).
- Add in the sifted cocoa powder, instant coffee, salt, heavy cream and vanilla extract and whisk to combine.
- Add the melted chocolate and butter mixture to the bowl and whisk to combine. Be careful not to overmix.
- Transfer the pie filling into the cooled par-baked pie crust.
- Place the pan in the oven for 50-55 minutes. It is done when the center is set and there is a chocolate crust on top. Let cool in the pan for 60 minutes before cutting the pie.
- Add whipped cream and chocolate shavings to the top of pie before serving.
*Pie crust adapted from Cooks Illustrated Foolproof Pie Crust. I omitted the shortening and replaced with butter.
**Store left over pie in the refrigerator for up to three days.
***If using salted butter, omit the extra salt in the pie crust and filling.
Keywords: chocolate chess pie, chocolate brownie pie
This post is sponsored by Danish Creamery. As always, all thoughts and opinions are 100% my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that help make Browned Butter Blondie possible.