I have always wanted to make a chess tart, but have no idea why. Really. Perhaps just simple curiosity because the list of ingredients is super simple stuff you have on hand. Maybe it is because every reference to it says “classic Southern pie” and I have never had one. Ever. Granted I had Southern parents, but did not really grow in the South. I’ll say it once again – sorry, Jacksonville, FL – you are not the South. Not by any stretch of the imagination.
“Chess pie – This is one of the South’s favorite pies, with a simple filling of eggs, sugar, butter, and a small amount of flour. Chess pie can be varied by adding flavoring so such as lemon juice or vanilla, or substituting brown sugar for granulated sugar.” Food Lover’s Companion, p. 123.
1 1/4 cup ground cookies*
5 Tbs unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
2 Tbs granulated sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1 Tbs fine cornmeal
1/4 tsp salt
3 large eggs, plus 1 egg yolk
1/2 tsp vanilla
8 Tbs unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9 inch tart pan (with a removable bottom) with vegetable oil spray. Grind cookies* in the food processor. Then add butter, granulated sugar, and salt. Pulse together. Press mixture into bottom and sides of the pan. Use the bottom of a measuring cup to press it tightly.
Transfer pan to a rimmed baking sheet and bake until tart shell is golden, about 12 minutes. Let cool. Reduce oven to 325 degrees.
For the filling, whisk together sugars, cornmeal, and salt making sure there are no lumps. Whisk together eggs, yolk, vanilla, and then butter. Combine sugar mixture and egg mixture. Pour into tart shell. Bake until top is golden brown and edge is set but center is wobbly, about 35 minutes.
Transfer baking sheet to wire rack and cool 15 minutes. Then refrigerate until cooled for at least two hours, but better overnight.
* You can use graham crackers, Nilla wafers, or animal crackers.
Notes: Well, I now know why I have never made a Chess Pie – it is cloyingly sweet and underwhelming. Or maybe it’s just the recipe…
I will try again, at some point though. I can’t leave something like this alone. I have to win. I just saw a recipe from King Arthur Flour for a lemon chess pie that I will do. I just don’t like to lose – if that makes any sense. Yep, not losing to a recipe or an idea – that’s me.
** A Year Ago