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Chocolate Chess Pie is tastes like the fudgiest crackly-topped brownie you can imagine baked into a flaky pie crust. If that’s not enough of a selling point, you might be won over by the fact that this recipe is easy to put together and relies upon pantry staples you probably already have in your kitchen. Who can resist?!

Slice of chocolate chess pie on plate with whipped cream on top

Why You’ll Love This Easy Chocolate Chess Pie Recipe

  • Old-Fashioned Southern Dessert—With a Twist. Chess Pie (a close relative of Buttermilk Pie) is a classic Southern dessert, and this chocolate chess pie has a similar custard-with-a-crispy-crackly-top vibe, but with the addition of cocoa powder and bittersweet chocolate to amp up the decadence factor.
  • Easier Than You Think. Don’t let the instructions below fool you! The first two steps are all about prepping the crust; making the filling is a matter of melting the butter and chocolate, then stirring everything together. (And you can totally use a store-bought crust for the sake of convenience if you want to.)
  • Great for a Crowd. This is a dessert where a little goes a long way! Like Brownie Pie, no one will want more than a small slice of chocolate chess pie because it’s so incredibly rich and fudgy.
Whole chocolate chess pie in pie dish

How to Make Chocolate Chess Pie

The Ingredients

  • Pie Crust. I use my Darn Good Whole Wheat Pie Crust, but you can also use Oil Pie Crust, your own favorite homemade pie crust recipe, or store-bought crust.
  • Bittersweet Chocolate. I used 60% cacao. Choose a high-quality chocolate since it’s a key player in the flavor of chocolate chess pie.
  • Cocoa Powder. You can use Dutch process cocoa powder or unsweetened cocoa powder, which has more of a classic brownie flavor.
  • Espresso Powder. This is an optional addition to add depth.
  • Cornmeal. While you can use coarse ground or fine for traditional chess pie, for this chocolate chess pie, I recommend sticking with fine.
  • Evaporated Milk. You’ll use 1/3 cup; the remaining evaporated milk can be frozen or use it in your morning coffee.
  • Eggs. Let these come to room temperature.
  • Vanilla Extract. Vanilla isn’t just for vanilla flavor! It enhances the overall taste of chocolate desserts too.

The Directions

Crust dough in pie dish
  1. Prep the Crust. Press it into a pie plate and chill while you work on the filling.
Bittersweet chocolate and butter in liquid measuring cup
  1. Combine the Butter and Chocolate. Heat it in the microwave until the chocolate melts smoothly into the butter.
Melted chocolate and butter in liquid measuring cup
  1. Add the Cocoa Powder and Espresso. Stir to combine, then cool for 5 minutes.
Dry ingredients for chocolate chess pie filling in mixing bowl
  1. Mix the Dry Ingredients. Whisk the sugar, flour, cornmeal, and salt in a bowl.
Beating eggs and milk into chess pie filling
  1. Add the Wet Ingredients. Mix in the milk, eggs, and vanilla.
Pouring melted chocolate into liquid ingredients for chocolate chess pie filling
  1. Make It Chocolatey. Whisk in the cooled chocolate mixture.
Pouring filling into crust for chocolate chess pie
  1. Assemble. Pour the filling into the pie crust.
Unbaked chocolate chess pie on countertop
  1. Bake and Cool. Bake the chocolate chess pie at 350 degrees F for 50 minutes, or until almost set. Cool on a wire rack for at least 2 hours before serving. ENJOY!
Pie server holding slice of chocolate chess pie

Topping and Garnish Ideas for Chocolate Chess Pie

  • Whipped Cream. You can never go wrong with it! Homemade is fab, the kind in a can works too, or add a dollop of frozen whipped topping.
  • Vanilla Ice Cream. This is especially delicious if you warm up the pie a bit so the ice cream melts.
  • Fresh Fruit. Strawberries and raspberries pair beautifully with chocolate, plus their bright flavor cuts some of the richness of the pie.
  • Powdered Sugar. Another classic topping for chocolate chess pie is a dusting of powdered sugar. I like to use a dusting wand for this, which helps you achieve that perfect even dusting without having to take out a sifter.
Old-fashioned chocolate chess pie with slice removed

Recipe Tips and Tricks

  • Don’t Mess With Filling Success. The filling for this Southern chocolate chess pie was tested and then tested some more, so if you make changes, I can’t guarantee that it will turn out. Because chess pie is custard-based, it has a specific ingredient ratio in order to make sure the filling sets.
  • Let the Chocolate Mixture Cool. If you work too quickly and add piping hot chocolate to a bowl of eggs, you’ll cook them!
  • Know When It’s Done. As with Lemon Bars, you want a little bit of wiggle-and-wobble when you shake the pan gently. If the filling flows like lava, it needs to bake more. We want it to be more like Jello.
  • Use a Pie Crust Shield if Needed. If you notice the crust is browning too early into the baking process, you can add a pie crust shield or strips of foil to slow things down while the filling bakes through.
Slice of Southern chocolate chess pie on plate topped with dollop of whipped cream

Chocolate Chess Pie

5 from 3 votes
This old-fashioned chocolate chess pie recipe bakes a fudgy, crackly-topped chocolate custard into a flaky pie crust. A Southern favorite!

Prep: 25 minutes
Cook: 50 minutes
Total: 3 hours 15 minutes

Servings: 1 (9-inch) pie

Ingredients
  

  • 1 pie crust
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter 1/2 stick
  • 1/2 cup 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate chopped (I used 60%)
  • 2 tablespoons Dutch process cocoa powder or unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon espresso powder optional
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon cornmeal not coarse ground
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/3 cup evaporated milk
  • 4 large eggs at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • Whipped cream optional for serving

Instructions
 

  • Make the pie crust and refrigerate. When ready to proceed, place a rack in the center of your oven and preheat to 350°F.
  • On a lightly floured work surface (or between two sheets of parchment paper) roll out your pie crust into an 11-inch circle. When rolling, always start at the center of your dough and work your way out. Flour the rolling pin only as much as needed to prevent sticking. Transfer to a 9-inch regular (not deep dish) pie plate. You can do this by draping it over your rolling pin, then gently unfurling it into the dish. Settle the dough down into the dish so it’s smoothly touching the pan (do not stretch or it will bounce back). Tuck in any overhand and flute the edge, or use the tines of a fork to make a simple crimp all the way around. Transfer to the refrigerator and chill while you start the filling.
  • Cut the butter into pieces and place in a medium heatproof bowl. Add chopped chocolate. Microwave in 20 second bursts, stirring after each addition, until the chocolate is almost completely melted. Remove from the microwave and stir to let the residual heat melt the chocolate the rest of the way. (You can also set the bowl over a pan of simmering water at melt it gently on the stove; don’t let the bottom of the bowl touch the water). Stir in the cocoa powder and espresso powder until smooth. Let cool for 5 minutes.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar, flour, cornmeal, and salt. Whisk in the milk, eggs, and vanilla until very smoothly combined. Finally, whisk in the cooled chocolate mixture. Pour the filling into the chilled pie crust. Lightly rap the pan on the counter a few times to tap out air bubbles.
  • Bake chocolate chess pie for 50 minutes, until the filling is puffed and looks set on top but the pie still wobbles just a little bit when you wiggle the pan gently. If at any point the crust starts to darken too much, shield it with a pie crust shield or aluminum foil, then continue baking. Place the pie on a wire rack and let cool completely, for at least 2 hours. The pie will settle a little as it sits. Enjoy with whipped cream.

Notes

  • TO STORE: Cover leftover chocolate chess pie and refrigerate for up to 3 days.
  • TO REHEAT: If you prefer to eat leftover chocolate chess pie warm, reheat it in the oven at 325 degrees F until warmed through.
  • TO FREEZE: Cover the pie with plastic wrap and aluminum foil, then freeze it for up to 2 months. Thaw it in the refrigerator overnight before serving.

Nutrition

Serving: 1(of 8)Calories: 415kcalCarbohydrates: 57gProtein: 6gFat: 19gSaturated Fat: 9gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2gMonounsaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 0.3gCholesterol: 101mgPotassium: 173mgFiber: 2gSugar: 43gVitamin A: 327IUVitamin C: 0.2mgCalcium: 55mgIron: 2mg

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Erin Clarke

Hi, I'm Erin Clarke, and I'm fearlessly dedicated to making healthy food that's affordable, easy-to-make, and best of all DELISH. I'm the author and recipe developer here at wellplated.com and of The Well Plated Cookbook. I adore both sweets and veggies, and I am on a mission to save you time and dishes. WELCOME!

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6 Comments

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  1. OMG! It was so addictive. So chocolatey, moist and delicious. I love that the instructions were so easy to follow. My kids enjoyed it. I served it with vanilla ice cream on top. Yum!5 stars

  2. This pie absolutely SLAPS! No cap! I like chocolate desserts but they’re not my top choice, but this pie was so freaking good. It was not that sweet, which is good. The addition of espresso powder was awesome. Thank you!5 stars

  3. This pie is dangerously good, like I made it last night and half of it was gone before dinner. It tastes just like brownie batter, but a little fancier and it is so easy to make!5 stars