In my book, simple is good and simply chocolate is even better. This No Fuss Chocolate Chess Pie is chocolately enough for chocolate addicts and special enough to serve when brownies just wouldn’t suffice. Still it is super easy – even for folks who swear that they absolutely cannot bake.
Chess pie is a Southern American specialty. In its simplest form, chess pie filling includes just butter, sugar, eggs, and flavoring, sometimes with a tad of flour. I came upon a chocolate version, first published by Nancie McDermott, a true expert on Southern cooking. That recipe was later adapted by TheKitchn and The Accidental Southerner. All three of those sources use unsweetened chocolate, while I use a mix of semi-sweet and bittersweet. The bottom line is that the pie looks rustic and crackly on the top and tastes delicious all the way through.
Think of a chocolate cheesecake without the cheese or a not-too-sweet chocolate pecan pie, without molasses or pecans. Neither analogy is perfect, but you get the picture – slightly dense and rich without being overly sweet. Serve No Fuss Chocolate Chess Pie with a dollop of whipped cream or a small scoop of high quality vanilla ice cream and you’ve got a dessert has a high “wow factor”.
If you are eating No Fuss Chocolate Chess Pie more than 2 hours after it comes out of the oven, refrigerate it. Here’s why I recommend refrigerating the pie instead of keeping it on the counter.
Serve with whipped cream or rich vanilla ice cream (optional) for a marvelous contrast in textures and tastes.
No Fuss Chocolate Chess Pie
This No Fuss Chocolate Chess Pie is incredibly simple to make. Delicious chocolate filling inside a graham cracker crust. Pretty enough for company, but easy enough for a weekday splurge.
- 1 1/2 cups crumbled graham crackers Approximately 1 sleeve + 2 extra
- 5 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 pinch salt
- 7 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into chunks
- 2 1/2 - 3 ounces semi-sweet &/or bittersweet chocolate, chopped
- 3/4 cup sugar + 1 tablespoon
- 2 eggs at room temperature, slightly beaten
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup heavy or whipping cream
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 dash vanilla
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Crush the graham crackers in tightly closed ziplock plastic bag, using a rolling pin or a wine bottle. Don’t worry about mashing each bit to smithereens, but the crumbs should be small. Add the crumbs, salt, and sugar to the melted butter and stir them together to moisten all the crumbs.
Press the mixture into the pie pan, beginning with the fork, but ending with your fingers, so that the mixture is pressed down. For the sides, put the side of your second finger on one hand on the top of the side and the other hand’s second finger just below it, so that the sides are pressed into the pan and adhere to the sides.
Place the pie pan on the cookie sheet and bake for 10-15 minutes. (Moving the cookie sheet is easier than moving the pie pan and the sheet helps prevent burning on the bottom of the pan.) If bubbles have formed in the crust, gently burst them with the tines of the fork. Let the crust cool before filling it.
As you take the pie pan out of the oven, lower the heat to 325 degrees F.
Melt the butter and chocolate together. Again, I use the microwave. If you melt them on the stovetop, be careful not to burn the chocolate. Using a double boiler helps. (A double boiler includes a pot with a few inches of water simmering below the pot with the ingredients. That way, the butter and chocolate never touch the flame.) Whether microwaved or melted on the stovetop, gently stir the butter and chocolate to smoothly combine them.
Add the sugar, eggs, vanilla and salt to the melted butter and chocolate and spread the filling in the pie pan, on top of the crust.
Bake the pie (again on top of a cookie sheet), for 40-50 minutes. If the edges of the crust begin to get dark, cover them with a ring of tin foil or a pie shield. (The foil or shield protects the crust from further baking while the pie continues to bake.) At 40 minutes the pie is a bit gooey. I prefer the longer cooking time until the middle will be set when cooled.
Remove the pie from the oven and set on a wire rack to cool completely. Do not cut the pie until the bottom of the pie pan feels about room temperature.
Whipped Cream Topping
Using a cold bowl and cold beaters, beat the cream, starting at a low speed and increasing slowly to mid-speed. Beat until soft peaks beginning to form. Add the sugar and the dash of vanilla and whip just until incorporated.
If you don't already know, check out this post as to why you should use room temperature eggs for baking and how to quickly bring refrigerated eggs up to room temperature.
If you want to know the difference between heavy cream and whipping cream, the answer is here.