What Apple Pie is to America, Chess Pie is to the South. It's sweet, sticky and delicious. If you ask 100 North Carolinians how they make their chess pie, you'll probably get 100 different versions. That's the beauty of this dessert. There are no rules. Have fun with this one! —Mario Batali
6 to 8
For the filling:
1 1/4 teaspoons
1 1/2 teaspoons
recipe basic pie crust (see below)
For the basic pie crust:
3 1/2 cups
all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 1/2 teaspoons
1 1/2 cups
very cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
To make the crust: In a large bowl, combine flour, salt, and baking powder. Add the butter and toss to coat in the flour, then mix with a pastry blender—or the back of a fork, though that will take longer—until the butter is cut into tiny bits and incorporated through the dough. Add 6 tablespoons of the ice water and mix in until the dough just comes together, adding more water a tablespoonful at a time, if necessary. (The ingredients can be mixed in a food processor, but should be done in two batches.)
Dust a work surface with flour and turn the dough out of the bowl. Cut it in half and form 2 discs. Dust them with more flour, then wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to 2 days.
Preheat the oven to 350° F. In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating to incorporate each before adding the next. Add the milk, vinegar, vanilla, and salt.
When ready to roll out the crust, dust your work surface and use a rolling pin to roll out the dough to at least 12 inches across. Carefully line a pie pan with the dough and cut away any excess hanging over the sides. Refrigerate the crust until ready to fill. The second disc can be used for another pie, or as a top crust in double-crusted pies.
Pour into the pie shell. Bake on low rack of oven for 15 minutes. Reduce the heat to 325° F and bake for 50 to 60 minutes longer, until the filling is set.
Mario Batali counts 25 restaurants, 11 cookbooks, numerous television shows and the 50,000-square-foot Eataly marketplace among his ever-expanding empire of deliciousness. His latest book is "America Farm to Table: Simple, Delicious Recipes Celebrating Local Farmers" (Grand Central Life & Style, 2014).