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What the Heck is a Chess Pie and Why Is It So Dang Good? State Street Chess Pies

By now, we all know that custards are definitely my favorite kind of pie. I just can’t stop raving about their sweet eggy milkiness. Indeed, this combination keeps me a very loyal custard lady, and I just keep coming back to them singing sweet songs of pie love with every creamy forkful. Every now and then though, I give in to temptation and commit cardinal custard sin with another type of pie. Ok, maybe a little more than every now and then. Maybe more like every now and well, NOW. Especially if the pie cheat is with the close cousin of the custard pie- the chess pie. For those of you who aren’t familiar with a chess pie, think pecan pie. The pecan pie is by far the most widespread and well known of the chess pie family in America but my no means-the only member. Satiny smooth, chess pies are uber rich. Hailing from the South and based in sugar, butter, and eggs these pies are often hard-core sweet. Ok, so I know you may be thinking “but wise pie lady, aren’t all pies made with sugar butter and eggs?” Well, yeah mostly that’s true. But what makes chess pies distinct is that they sometimes have little more than sugar, butter and eggs. These simple pies are not for those looking for subtle sweetness or delicate light whisps of pie. These pies are for sugarphiles who want their sugar and they want it NOW. The type of sugar used can vary; there’s even a chess pie called, wait for it, “syrup pie”. And yes, it’s probably exactly what you are imagining. Sometimes buttermilk, vinegar, or nuts are added to the mix but the trick to a good chess pie is making it sweet without drowning you in so much sugar that you’re swearing off the whole pie family and banning them from your home. If you read my entry on making a good pecan pie, then you’ve heard my rant before about how those chess pies often get screwed up by over-sweetening. But now, thanks to State Street pie kitchen in Brooklyn, I’ve found two great chess pies that are sweet and homemade tasting but not overpowering.

State street pie kitchen makes two very good representatives of the chess pie family- the brown sugar chess pie and a chocolate chess pie. Basic in their presentation, both pies are sweet southern pies that make me want to throw my fork and knife in the back of my car and head on down I95. The brown sugar chess pie reminds one of a pecan pie without the pecans on top, but less intensely sweet somehow. I bought a whole pie to share with others but ended up just shamefully inhaling the whole buttery, buttery goodness myself. It’s that good. And oh my gosh the crust. Finally, somebody had paid attention to the crust! This isn’t just some flat soggy butter crust, made with good intentions but no real skill, this is a good southern style crust that I could (and have) eaten all by itself. The chocolate version is just downright decadent but again, not so densely chocolate that it bogs you down. So confession time again. I’ll admit it, I may have stalked this pie and tracked it down again at a certain Brooklyn bake sale. I also may have stood there devouring the pie one slice at a time with a dreamy expression on my face. So my apologies to anyone who happened to attend said bake sale looking for said pie and found there were no said slices left. My bad. All I can say in my defense was… it was a dang good pie. And the second time I had it was even better than the first if that’s even possible! So good peoples of the pie-loving persuasion, hit up State Street Bakery and get yo’self educated on the southern sweetness that is a Chess Pie.


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