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Chocolate Chess Pie

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Deep, satisfying chocolate decadence from such simple ingredients and uncomplicated directions is nothing short of amazing!

Whether you’re from the South or the other side of the globe, this rich, custardy Chocolate Chess Pie will wrap you up in a cocoon of sweet cocoa bliss! 

Silky chocolate filling with a crusty sugared  top, baked in a traditional pie crust is enough to make any chocolate pie lover’s mouth water. It’s the perfect dessert to top off a savory delight of a dinner like  Smoked Chicken Thighs,  Air Fryer Chicken Legs or  Easy Smoked Baby Back Ribs.

When you serve slices of this Chess Pie with a dollop of real whipped cream on top, you’ll have a craveworthy winner your gang will beg for over and over again.

No need to carve out hours of preparation time for this fabulous Chocolate Chess Pie, because it has a short list of ingredients and instructions. You’ll be enjoying this luscious, classic dessert in a short time

A classic Southern dessert, Chocolate Chess Pie with its rich and sugary sweet chocolate filling is a chocolate-lover’s dream. Made with just a handful of pantry ingredients, this simple dessert truly is as easy as pie to prepare!

a slice of chocolate chess pie on a white plate on a wooden table.

Why you’ll love this recipe

  • Basic ingredients. The ingredients in this recipe are so common, you may not even need a trip to the store. 
  • Easy to put together. Everything for the filling combines in a single large bowl before going into a ready-made pie crust.
  • Rich and delicious. This pie is so tasty, there’s a good chance you won’t have even a speck of leftovers.

Chocolate Chess Pie: behind the recipe

What is Chocolate Chess Pie?

It’s a chocolate, custard type of baked pie in a classic white flour and fat crust. 

Why is it called Chess Pie?

 I hoped for a straightforward answer to this mystery. Instead, I got theories. 

One says it got the name because its original crust was made from chestnut flour.

 Another is that the pies were stored in pie chests and the flavors improved over time.

 The one that makes the most sense to me is that this American Southern pie originated from a situation where no nuts, fruits or other traditional pie fillings were available. Chess Pie was born from a creative culinary endeavor to make a good pie anyway. When asked what kind of pie it was, the cook stated, “Oh, it’s jes pie.”

The answer: No one really knows, except that Chocolate Chess pie has nothing to do with the game of Chess. It has everything to do adding cocoa to an old Southern recipe, making it a dream-come-true for chocolate pie lovers.

ingredients for chocolate chess pie.

Key ingredients and substitutions

  • Butter — Real butter can be the difference between something that’s good and something that’s amazing. If you really need to substitute, choose margarine that doesn’t contain added water.
  • Cocoa powder — Rich and full of the flavor we love, cocoa powder is essential to turning this pie into the delicious chocolate pie it’s destined to be. In a pinch you can use one ounce of 100% cocoa baking squares.
  • Ready-made refrigerated pie crust — Store-bought crusts are huge time savers. If you prefer to make yours from scratch, you have my admiration. Homemade crust is always a plus!

How do I make Chocolate Chess Pie?

STEP 1 | Preheat the oven to 350 degrees

  • Check that the rack is in the center position before turning on your oven.
process steps for preparing batter for chocolate chess pie.

STEP 2 | Make the filling

  • In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar, cocoa and salt. Add melted butter and blend until combined.
  • Mix the eggs to the mixture and beat with an electric mixer at medium speed for 3 minutes.
  • Gently stir in the evaporated milk and vanilla until incorporated.
fluting a pie crust and pouring batter for chocolate chess pie into the crust.

STEP 3 | Prepare the crust

  • Fit the unbaked pie crust into a 9-inch pie pan and flute the edges or crimp with a fork.

STEP 4 | Bring it together

  • Pour the batter into the pie shell and bake for 1 hour, until the top is almost set.
  • Remove from the oven and cool completely. Dust with confectioner’s sugar and serve with whipped cream, if desired.

There are several variations on the classic Southern chess pie, from coconut chess pie to lemon chess pie, but today’s Chocolate Chess Pie might just be this confessed chocoholic’s favorite!

Serving suggestions

Whipped cream is first choice for topping Chocolate Chess Pie. You can also add a smattering of chopped pecans on top or pile a scoop of cherry pie filling over a slice. Fresh berries are always a hit as well.

tips

  • The pie will set up best if you use extremely softened butter that is just almost melted. Try not to melt the butter completely.
  • When Chocolate Chess Pie comes out of the oven, the top is a little crackly and it may jiggle slightly in the middle. That’s okay. As the pie cools, the filling will continue to set up. If the pie bakes too long the top will develop too much of a crusty layer.

a slice of chocolate chess pie on a white plate on a wooden table.

Frequently asked questions about chocolate chess pie

How long does chocolate chess pie last?

Chocolate Chess Pie can be kept at room temperature for up to 24 hours, then cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days.

What should I do if my chocolate chess pie doesn’t set up?

The pie should bake until the top is a little crackly and it jiggles slightly in the middle. If the pie is runny after it has cooled completely (at least 4 hours), refrigerate until it firms up.

The top of my chocolate chess pie cracked. Is that ok?

A little cracking or crackle on the crust is part of the character of the pie and is expected. A dusting of confectioner’s sugar on top can hide any imperfections, but with or without cracks, this pie is going to knock your socks off.

slice of chocolate chess pie on a white plate

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Yield: 8 servings

Chocolate Chess Pie

a slice of chocolate chess pie on a white plate on a wooden table.

Gooey chocolate pie filling in a flaky crust with sweetened whipped cream is
an absolutely heavenly match.

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes

Ingredients

Pie Filling

  • 1 refrigerated crust for a 9-inch pie, unbaked
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted (see note)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup evaporated milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Whipped Cream

  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon confectioner's sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar, cocoa and salt. Add the melted butter and blend until combined.
  3. Add the eggs to the mixture and beat with an electric mixer at medium speed for 3 minutes.
  4. Gently stir in the evaporated milk and vanilla until incorporated..
  5. Fit the unbaked pie crust into a 9-inch pie pan and flute the edges or crimp with a fork.
  6. Pour the batter into the pie shell and bake for 1 hour, until the top is almost set. Remove from the oven and cool completely. Dust with confectioner's sugar and serve with whipped cream, if desired.

Whipped Cream

  1. Place the heavy whipping cream in a bowl and beat with an electric mixer just until you begin to see peaks starting to form.
  2. Add 1 tablespoon confectioner's sugar and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract and continue beating until stiff peaks form.

Notes

Original Chocolate Chess Pie recipe by The Lunch Box, Knoxville, TN

  • The pie will set up best if you used melted butter that is still a little chunky, so if you can help it, don't melt the butter completely.
  • When Chocolate Chess Pie comes out of the oven, the top is a little crackly and it may jiggle slightly in the middle, but don't worry. As the pie cools, the filling will continue to set up. Leave the pie in the oven for too long and the top will become crusty instead.
  • Chocolate Chess Pie can be held at room temperature for up to 24 hours, then refrigerate for up to 3 days.
  • Substitute canned whipped cream or non-dairy frozen whipped topping in place of the fresh whipped cream for serving, if desired.

Recommended Products

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Nutrition Information:

Yield:

8

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 276Total Fat: 10gSaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 65mgSodium: 238mgCarbohydrates: 45gFiber: 1gSugar: 41gProtein: 3g

Did you make this recipe?

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sheila thigpen in her kitchen

Sheila @ Life, Love & Good Food

Recipe Developer, Food Photographer, Home Cook, Wife, Mom, Nana

Sheila Thigpen is the publisher of Life, Love, and Good Food — a Southern food blog — and the author of Easy Chicken Cookbook and The 5-Ingredient Fresh and Easy Cookbook. After 20+ years in the publishing industry, she retired in 2018 to focus on her own creative endeavors full time. She and her husband live near the beautiful Smoky Mountains and have a precious little granddaughter who has stolen their hearts. As an influencer, Sheila has collaborated with brands like Kroger, HERSHEY’S, Hamilton Beach, Garafalo Pasta, OXO, Smithfield, Valley Fig Growers, and more.

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