I had chess pie for the first time when a former roommate of mine made it in South Carolina. It’s a southern staple – essentially a custard pie thickened slightly with cornmeal.
Now, I’ll be honest, I wasn’t a huge fan of the pie the first go round. I wasn’t really a fan of my roommate, either. Not because he wasn’t a great person & friend – he was! I just don’t like roommates very much. Of any kind.
So far, Seth has remained the exception. I like hanging out with him, I’m relaxed and totally myself when he’s home, and my hair hasn’t started falling out from stress (as it has with previous roommates).
It certainly helps that he is a willing and enthusiastic taste tester. I’m learning how to gauge his reactions to a recipe rather quickly now. I can tell whether he likes something without any words, simply by reading his body language and facial expressions.
He really liked this pie! Like, a lot. When he didn’t open his eyes right away after the first bite, and instead sat with a satisfied smile, I knew I had a winner!
I changed things up from the traditional custard base - opting to use a reduction of apple cider to add sweetness & depth, instead of just granulated sugar. Then the crust. Oh, ho - the crust! I basically made a giant oatmeal cookie that will hold your pie filling. It's dense where the filling is light, toasty where the filling is sweet, crunchy where the filling is silky-freaking-smooth. It's a new favorite of mine. And I bet it will be one of yours, too.
This Apple Cider Chess Pie is a welcomed update of the classic southern dessert. With a sturdy crust that supports and compliments the light, but flavorful, filling it is sure to please any roommate or husband who may try it!
Apple Cider Chess Pie
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 40 – 50 minutes
- Total Time: 50 – 60 minutes + cooling & chilling
- Yields: 9-inch pie, serves 8-10
For the crust:
- 1 cup pecan halves
- 1 cup quick cook oats
- ½ cup old-fashioned oats
- ½ tsp. salt
- 1 TBSP brown sugar
- 6 TBSP unsalted butter, melted and slightly cool
For the filling:
- 1 ½ cups apple cider (bonus points if it’s mulled!)
- ½ cup unsalted butter, melted and slightly cool
- 3 eggs, at room temperature
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- ½ cup heavy cream
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- ½ tsp. ground cinnamon
- ¼ tsp. ground allspice
- Pinch of cloves
- ½ tsp. salt
- 2 tsp. cornmeal
Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a food processor, pulse the pecans, oats, salt, and brown sugar together into a coarse, but even, meal. Add butter and pulse to combine. Press mixture into a 9-inch pie plate and bake in preheated oven for 5 – 7 minutes, or until crust just starts to become fragrant and slightly golden. Remove from oven and allow to cool on wire rack. While crust is baking, cook the cider over medium-high heat until reduced to ⅓ cup. Allow to cool slightly before using. In a large bowl, whisk together the slightly cooled cider, butter, eggs, sugar, heavy cream, and vanilla until smooth. Stir in spices, salt, and cornmeal before pouring into baked crust. Return to oven and bake for another 35 – 45 minutes, or until edges are golden and center only slightly moves when pan is touched. Allow to cool to room temperature before chilling in fridge for at least three hours, or overnight, before slicing and serving with freshly whipped cream!
Recipe adapted from Broma Bakery's Browned Butter Maple Chess Pie.