We love a good fruit pie here at Wholefully, but there is something incredibly decadent and delightful about a custard pie, too! Especially one spiked with rich dark chocolate and espresso powder like this chocolate chess pie.
A good chocolate pie should be silky and creamy—imagine the texture somewhere between good fudge and silky chocolate pudding. This pie is not for the chocolate-phobic! It’s packed with dark chocolate pie flavor, and just a little slice will more than satisfy your sweet tooth. Let’s get baking!
How would you describe a chocolate chess pie?
A standard chess pie is a custard pie that is basically like a cooked pudding or thick custard in a pie shell. Chess pie—similar to Hoosier Sugar Cream Pie—is a type of pie that was common when harder-to-procure ingredients like fruit were in short supply.
While a regular chess pie is thickened and flavor with cornmeal, our chocolate version is spiked with chocolate (and a little bit of espresso powder to add richness) and thickened with cornstarch. The chocolate custard is thick, buttery, and reminiscent of brownie batter! You pour the custard into a standard pie shell (a gluten-free pie crust works well, too).
What does a chocolate chess pie taste like?
This is a chocoholic’s dream dessert! The chocolate custard is set in the fridge, making it thick and rich—the texture is somewhere between chocolate fudge and chocolate pudding. The flavor is sweet and buttery, with rich chocolate flavor.
Whenever you are baking with chocolate, a little dash of instant espresso powder can go a long way to deepen the flavor of the chocolate. It doesn’t necessarily taste like coffee, but it just adds another dimension of flavor.
What is chocolate chess pie made of?
Because chess pie is a custard-based pie, you’ll need eggs, butter, milk, and granulated sugar for the filling. We use evaporated milk here, because we’ve found it gives a richer result—plus it’s easy to keep on hand in the pantry at all times. This pie is the definition of a pantry dessert!
To make this a chocolate chess pie, we add in cocoa powder and instant espresso powder to the filling as well. Not a coffee fan? No problem! You won’t actually taste the espresso, but the espresso powder will work to amplify the chocolate flavor. You can skip it if you want, but we recommend giving it a try and adding it in!
Beyond these key ingredients, you’ll need a few other pantry staples (vanilla extract, salt), a pie crust, and whipped cream and chocolate shavings for garnish.
How do I make chocolate chess pie?
Getting this pie from ingredients to assembled in the oven basically amounts to:
- Make the pie dough and roll out the bottom crust.
- Whisk together the ingredients of the filling.
- Pour the filling into the crust.
It is a quick and straightforward process, especially if you’ve already made your pie crust in advance.
If someone at your Thanksgiving can’t eat gluten, just use our gluten-free pie crust. No other substitutions needed to make this pie gluten-free!
When is the pie done?
You’ll know your chocolate chess pie is ready to come out of the oven when the filling looks mostly set. It should no longer look wet, and instead should have developed a light brown crust over the filling. The filling should appear just a little jiggly—if it is super wobbly, it probably isn’t done!
Chocolate chess pie is best served cold. This helps set up the filling to be more solid, and the cold temperature really does seem to enhance the chocolate flavor.
How long does chocolate chess pie last?
The two cups sugar in the filling works in favor of chocolate chess pie here—the sugar works as a preservative, so this pie will last for longer than most other pies. It should be fine in the fridge for 7-10 days.
How do you store chocolate chess pie?
Thanks to all the dairy and eggs in the filling, this pie can’t be left on the counter—you’ll need to chill this baby. Plus, the filling only holds its shape when it stays cold. This pie has to be refrigerated. We recommend covering the pie in the fridge so the custard doesn’t absorb odors.
Can you freeze this pie?
We’d recommend skipping freezing this pie recipe. Custard tends to perform unexpectedly when frozen, so we can’t guarantee it’ll be the same silky, rich texture coming out of the freezer as it was going in. You can absolutely make and freeze the pie shell ahead of time, and then just whisk up the filling (which takes just a couple of minutes) and bake off on the day you need the pie.