Chocolate Chess Pie
Buttery pie crust is filled with a gooey chocolate filling in this homemade chocolate chess pie recipe. This classic Southern pie is a must for any family gathering or holiday party!
What Is Chocolate Chess Pie?
Chocolate chess pie is a decadent variation of Southern chess pie. Regular chess pie has a custardy vanilla filling made with sugar, eggs, milk, and butter. Depending on what recipe you use, the filling is either thickened with flour or cornmeal.
Chocolate chess pie has one key difference — it’s chocolatey! Instead of using flour in the filling to thicken it, cornstarch and cocoa powder are used instead.
The filling of this incredibly rich pie has a similar texture to a fudgy brownie. If you have chocolate lovers in your family, you need to make this pie!
Ingredients in This Recipe
This is an incredibly easy pie recipe to make, and it calls for basic ingredients most bakers will have on hand. I won’t go into detail about every ingredient needed for this recipe, but I’ll quickly review the main ones.
- Pie crust: You’ll need just one pie crust for this recipe. You can opt for a store-bought crust, or you can make your own.
- Cornstarch: Also called cornflour in other parts of the world. The cornstarch helps to thicken the filling without having to add any flour.
- Cocoa powder: Either Dutch-processed or natural unsweetened cocoa powder will work in this pie. If your cocoa powder looks lumpy, sift it using a fine mesh sieve.
- Espresso powder: Doesn’t make the filling taste even remotely like coffee! The instant espresso powder enhances the chocolate flavor and makes for an even richer pie.
- Evaporated milk: Make sure to use evaporated milk and not sweetened condensed milk! Evaporated milk is much thinner and similar in consistency to regular milk. Sweetened condensed milk is much thicker and sweeter and won’t work correctly for this pie.
- Eggs: You’ll need whole eggs as well as egg yolks for the filling. It’s best to bring the eggs to room temperature before making the filling.
How to Make Chocolate Chess Pie
First, you’ll need to prepare and partially bake the pie crust. This will ensure that the bottom of the crust stays crisp and doesn’t end up soggy.
I’ve given detailed instructions in the recipe card at the bottom of this post, but here’s an overview of the process:
- If preparing a homemade pie crust, make the dough as instructed.
- Then, roll the pie dough into a circle that’s about 12 inches in diameter.
- Transfer the dough to a 9-inch pie plate and trim off any excess.
- Let the dough chill in the fridge while the oven preheats to 400ºF.
- Once the dough has firmed up a bit, you’ll need to blind bake the pie crust. That involves lining the pie dough with parchment paper, filling the pie plate with dried beans or pie weights, and baking the crust for 15 minutes just until the edges turn golden brown.
- Remove the pie crust from the oven, then take out the parchment paper and pie weights. Bake for another 5 minutes.
As the crust cools, you can prepare the chocolate chess pie filling:
- Reduce the oven temperature to 350°F: The filling needs to bake at a lower oven temperature than the pie crust.
- Combine the dry ingredients: In a large mixing bowl whisk together the sugar, cocoa powder, cornstarch, instant espresso powder, and salt.
- Mix in the wet ingredients: Whisk in the evaporated milk, melted butter, and vanilla.
- Add the lightly beaten eggs: In a separate bowl, lightly beat the eggs and egg yolks. Then, gently mix the eggs into the filling.
- Transfer the filling to the partially baked pie crust: If needed, you can smooth out the filling with the back of a spoon or an offset spatula.
- Bake the pie: Bake until it’s mostly set but still a little jiggly in the center.
- Cool completely and refrigerate: The pie must cool completely to room temperature (about 2 hours) before being refrigerated for another 2 to 3 hours. Don’t skip this step, otherwise the pie will be too soft to slice into.
Serving This Pie
This is a rich chocolate pie, so resist the urge to drown it in caramel sauce or chocolate sauce. It’s perfect as is, but if desired you could serve it with the following:
- A light dusting of powdered sugar
- Homemade whipped cream
- A small scoop of vanilla ice cream
How to Tell When the Pie Is Done
This is a tricky pie to test for doneness since you can’t use the toothpick test on it. My suggestion is to give the pie a very gentle wiggle to see if the center is nearly set. If the center is almost set, but with a slight jiggle to it, the pie is ready to come out of the oven.
The filling will finish setting up as it rests on your counter for two hours and then in the fridge for another two hours.
Once the pie has cooled completely, you will need to store it in the fridge. Cover it with plastic wrap to keep it fresh; it should last about 4 to 5 days.
For longer storage you may freeze the pie as well. I recommend wrapping it tightly with plastic wrap and storing it in a large freezer bag. When you’re ready to enjoy it, thaw overnight in the refrigerator.
- Make sure to lightly beat the eggs, then gently mix them into the batter. Over mixing the eggs can cause the filling to turn out a little rubbery.
- If you don’t have any instant espresso powder, but you may substitute it with an equal amount of instant coffee or omit it from the recipe.
- If the edges of your crust start to brown too much before the filling is done, I suggest covering the edges with a pie crust shield or aluminum foil.
More Pie Recipes to Make!
Chocolate Chess Pie
- 1 pie crust homemade or store-bought
- 1 ¾ cups granulated sugar (350 grams)
- ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder (45 grams)
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch or cornflour (25 grams)
- 1 teaspoon instant espresso powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 (5-ounce) can evaporated milk (NOT sweetened condensed milk)
- ¼ cup unsalted butter melted and slightly cooled (60 grams; ½ stick)
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 2 large eggs at room temperature
- 2 large egg yolks at room temperature
- To prepare the pie crust: Preheat the oven to 400°F (204°C).
- Roll out the pie dough to about 12-inches in diameter. Carefully transfer to a 9-inch pie plate, gently fit it in the dish, and trim any excess dough from the edges or tuck it under.
- Place the pie plate in the refrigerator and allow the dough to chill for 15 to 20 minutes while the oven is preheating.
- Once the oven is preheated, remove the pie plate from the refrigerator, decorate the edges, and line the dough with parchment paper or foil, making sure to cover the bottom and the sides. Fill with pie weights or beans, making sure to press them up against the sides as well.
- Bake with the pie weights for 15 minutes or until the edges of the crust start to lightly brown. If using a store-bought pie crust, you may need to reduce the baking time slightly.
- Remove from the oven, carefully remove the parchment paper (or foil) and the pie weights. Return to the oven to bake for 5 to 6 more minutes or until the bottom of the crust is set.
- Remove from the oven and set aside to cool slightly on a wire rack while you prepare the filling.
- To make the filling: Reduce the oven temperature to 350°F (180°C).
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the sugar, cocoa powder, cornstarch, espresso powder, and salt.
- Add the evaporated milk, melted butter, and vanilla extract and mix until just combined.
- In a separate mixing bowl, lightly beat the eggs and egg yolks together, then mix them into the batter until just combined. Make sure not to over mix the batter otherwise the filling may turn out rubbery.
- Pour the filling into the partially baked pie crust.
- Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until the pie is mostly set, but slightly jiggly in the center.
- Remove from the oven and cool completely to room temperature, about 2 hours. Cover and refrigerate for 2 to 3 more hours before slicing into the pie.