Chess Pie

Vinegar Pie

Chess pie is a dessert characteristic of Southern U.S. cuisine. According to James Beard’s ‘American Cookery’ (1972) the dish was brought from England originally, and was found in New England as well as Virginia. The origin of the name of chess pie may have come from the term ‘pie chest,’ another name for a pie safe (a cupboard designed to store pies). Recipes vary, but most include a filling composed of eggs, butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla.

Often, what sets chess pie apart from many other custard pies is the addition of cornmeal. Some recipes also call for corn syrup, which tends to create a more gelatinous consistency. The finished product is often consumed with coffee. Chess pie is closely related to vinegar pie, and the two terms are often used interchangeably. Vinegar pie adds a teaspoonful or tablespoonful of vinegar to reduce the sweetness. Some variations are called Jeff Davis or Jefferson Davis Pie, and Kentucky pie.

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