Cappuccino Soul

Cappuccino Soul

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Chess Pie Anyone?

I sent an e-mail to some family and friends yesterday asking them how much they would pay for a delicious homemade chess pie that was delivered to their homes. I knew my friend Lisa in Jersey City wouldn’t know what a chess pie was. She grew up in Brooklyn and Delaware and hasn’t had as much contact with the south as I’ve had. But my friend Cheryl who was born in New Orleans (she moved to Los Angeles when she was 8), my friend Andrea from Florida (who now lives in a D.C. suburb), and my cousin Monica in the D.C. area, really should know all about the chess pie. Especially Monica, who has tasted the same chess pie that I’ve had in North Carolina when we would visit OUR grandmom Pauline.

Last year I made my first chess pie and I have to say it was quite delicious. I was calling on the spirit of my grandmother who loved sweets and could whip up a mean chess pie in no time. Although I won’t divulge my recipe for chess pie here (it’s a secret!), most chess pies use the same basic ingredients, including sugar (sometimes brown sugar also), flour or cornmeal, eggs, butter, vanilla extract and a few other things.

Lisa wanted to know the origin of the chess pie and I had to admit that I didn’t know. After doing a little research I’ve found a few theories. It seems that the chess pie is a southern delight, most especially well liked in the Carolinas. One explanation for the name of the dessert is that someone asked a cook what she put in her pies and she replied “Anything in our chest.” Evidently, the word “chest” was pronounced “chess.” Another story is that a plantation cook was asked what she was baking that smelled so delectable. Her answer was, “Jes’ pie.”

Click here for a recipe that I’ve found on the internet. If you have a favorite chess pie recipe, please send it to me. I’d like to compare it to my own, which is a pretty good one, I must say. And if you live in Nashville and you’d like to purchase a homemade chess pie from me (with free delivery), please send me an e-mail at


Anonymous said...

I'll have to argue with your version of where "chess" pie comes from. Chess pie (= chest pie) is the pie you used to have to keep in a chest or pie safe, to keep the flies off it, because it was so sweet. Think of the Pennsylvania Dutch shoo-fly pie, also named for its sweetness and therefore its attractiveness to flies. BTW, the basic recipe for shoo-fly pie is awfully similar to the recipe for chess pie, except that you use molasses instead of sugar.

Cappuccino Soul said...

Thanks for this info.
I read several versions of the origin of Chess pie. I just took away the ones that I liked.


Carolyn Ross said...

I like the explanation of the chess pie. $8 is a good price to charge. I am selling potatoe pies and charging 8.

Auntie T

Cappuccino Soul said...

Auntie T,
But I'm going to deliver mine. Wouldn't $10 be a good price?