Some recipes for this Southern classic call for milk or cream, which makes less of a translucent pie. This version sticks with just eggs, sugar, and butter, as well as the key ingredients for tang and texture: vinegar and cornmeal. And while this version is clearer in appearance, the story behind the dessert’s name is not. Chess pie could be short for “chest,” as pies were once kept in a pie chest or pie safe cupboard. Another story suggests this simple pie created from what’s on hand might have at one time been called “just pie,” which over the years became “jus’ pie” and then “chess pie.”
- Yield: 1 pie
- 1¼ cups (250 g) sugar
- 1 tablespoon cornmeal
- ½ cup (1 stick/115 g) butter, melted and cooled
- 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon white vinegar
- 1 (9-inch/23-cm) piecrust
- Whipped cream and berries for serving (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). In a medium mixing bowl, combine the sugar and cornmeal. Add the butter, eggs, vanilla, and vinegar. Stir to combine, then pour the filling into the piecrust.
- Bake the pie for about 45 minutes, until the filling is set and it turns golden brown on top.
- Serve the pie with a dollop of whipped cream and berries if desired.