Chocolate Espresso Chess Pie


The Pie Academy’s Tailgate Pie of the Week: Week 3

It’s Week 3 in our tailgate pie odyssey and we’re celebrating by going all in for chocolate. We tipped our hat to chocolate in week one with the Chocolate Pecan Pie, but there’s no tipping this week: we’re taking off the hat, throwing it in the center of the ring, and inviting all comers to step up and give it a try.

You won’t be sorry. This one is something like a firm, decadent chocolate pudding, only the top bakes into this brittle sort of chocolate wafer. Hard to describe…much easier to consume. I think it’s best served cold, but I wouldn’t turn it down if you served it to me lukewarm or at room temperature.

The filling is simple. There are a couple of extra steps involved, but it’s well worth it. For one, to keep the bottom crust golden brown and distinct from the filling, I like to prebake it. You can actually see what a difference it makes in the final product, with than nice golden bottom crust.

I use beans to weigh my pastry down when I prebake it, not expensive pie weights. Here’s an actual photo of the pastry above, waiting to be prebaked. (Please note: no actual live beans were harmed in the baking of this pie.)

And you’ve got to melt the chocolate, too. People often think I have a super-gourmet kitchen with lots of fancy cooking gear, but when they see my double-boiler they think again. Put your money into something that will really take your pie baking to new heights. Like my cookbooks, for instance. (Sorry – couldn’t resist that one!) Here’s my low-tech, low-cost double boiler, a little Pyrex bowl I’ve had for 20 years placed over a saucepan I’ve had for at least 25.

All in all, it’s a very simple pie to make and you’ll be a hero to all who taste it.

The No-More-Tears Pie Pastry Course

Ken Haedrich

PASTRY NOTE: Use any pastry you like for the pie shell, but my first choice is the Good Basic Pie Dough. For best results, partially prebake the shell – as directed – before filling.

ANOTHER NOTE: This recipe is adapted from a virtually identical recipe in my new book, The Old Farmer’s Almanac Everyday Baking.

Chocolate Espresso Chess Pie
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 8 - 12
This is pie bliss - your coffee and chocolate fix all in one slice. If you're feeding a crowd, the bonus is this rich, to-die-for chocolate pie can be thinly sliced and will serve up to 12 people.
GOOD BASIC PIE DOUGH, refrigerated
  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, coarsely chopped
  • 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 1¼ cups sugar
  • 1 tablespoon fine cornmeal
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon instant coffee granules or instant espresso powder
  • 3 large eggs plus 1 egg yolk, at room temperature
  • ¼ cup milk
  • 1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
  1. Once the dough has chilled, place it on a sheet of lightly floured wax paper and roll it into a 13" circle. Invert the paper and pastry over a 9½" deep-dish pie pan, center, and peel off the paper. Gently tuck the pastry into the pan, without stretching it, then sculpt the overhang into an upstanding ridge. Place in the freezer for 15 minutes while you preheat the oven to 400°.
  2. Tear off a 16" long sheet of aluminum foil and press it into the firmed pastry shell so it fits like a glove. To prevent the pie shell from puffing up as it bakes, fill the foil about three-quarters full with dried beans, banking them up against the sides. Bake on the center rack for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 350°. Remove the shell from the oven, then carefully lift out the foil and beans. Using a fork, poke the bottom pastry 5 or 6 times; these holes will help keep the pastry from puffing. Put the shell back in the oven and bake another 10 minutes. Cool on a rack.
  3. Make the filling: Put the butter in the top of a double-boiler over - not in - not-quite-simmering water. Add the chocolate. When it is melted, whisk to smooth. Remove insert and set aside to cool.
  4. Mix the sugar, cornmeal, salt, and instant coffee in a large bowl. Add the eggs and yolk, milk, and vanilla. Whisk to blend. Add the lukewarm chocolate and whisk until smooth. Pour the filling into the shell. Bake on the center oven rack for 40 to 50 minutes. When done, the top of the pie will puff up slightly.
  5. Cool the pie on a rack for at least 1 hour before slicing and serving. When the pie has cooled, you can cover loosely with foil and refrigerate. Tastes good warm, at room temperature, or chilled.