Chocolate Chess Pie With Tahini Cream

September 28, 2021
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Photo by Julia Gartland. Prop Stylist: Suzie Myers. Food Stylist: Ericka Martins.
  • Prep time 35 minutes
  • Cook time 1 hour 15 minutes
  • Serves 6 to 8
Author Notes

Chess pie is a Southern staple, generally made from ingredients already on hand in your larder, like butter, buttermilk or evaporated milk, and cornmeal or flour. (Read more about the history of chess pie in this piece by Petra Paredez.) This version is sumptuous and chocolatey, thanks to the addition of Diaspora Co. Anamalai Cacao. This single-origin cacao powder—organically grown by Harish Manoj Kumar and Karthikeyan Palaniswamy on their family farm at the base of the Western Ghats in India—has a high butterfat content with rich notes of milk chocolate and caramel. There is only one filling, but when baked, like magic, it separates into a custardy, toffee-flavored bottom and a brownie-like, crunchy top. The all-butter crust is flecked with toasted sesame seeds (I use the already toasted ones that they sell at Korean markets), adding a deep savory flavor to the base that balances all the sweetness. Don’t skip the dollop of salted tahini cream on top.
Asha Loupy

Test Kitchen Notes

Head here to check out Diaspora Co.’s single-origin cacoa in the Food52 Shop. —The Editors

What You'll Need
  • Pie Crust
  • 1 1/4 cups (150 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon toasted white sesame seeds
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly grated Diaspora Co. Anamalai Nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick/113 grams) unsalted butter, cold, cubed
  • 1/4 cup ice water
  • Chocolate Filling
  • 1 3/4 cups (347 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup (½ stick/57 grams) unsalted butter, melted
  • 3 large eggs
  • 6 tablespoons (36 grams) Diaspora Co. Anamalai Cacao
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3/4 cup (183 grams) evaporated milk
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • Tahini Cream
  • 1 cup (227 grams) heavy whipping cream
  • 1/4 cup (57 grams) confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons tahini
  • Toasted white sesame seeds
  1. To make the pie dough, in a medium bowl, combine the flour, sugar, sesame seeds, salt, and nutmeg, and mix well. Add the butter and, using your fingers, rub the butter cubes into the flour mixture until they are the size of cooked chickpeas. Add the water and gently mix until the mixture holds together when squeezed. Press the dough into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 2 days. (If you’re rolling the dough a day later, it might be too cold and crack when rolling. Let it sit at room temperature for 5 minutes for easier rolling.)
  2. Heat the oven to 425°F. Remove the chilled pie dough from the refrigerator and place on a lightly floured surface. Using a rolling pin, roll into a 12- to 13-inch circle, about ¼ inch thick. Carefully wrap it around your rolling pin and transfer the dough into a 9-inch pie plate. Trim the dough so there is about ½ inch of overhang, then fold half of the overhang to form the crust. Crimp the edges. Place in the freezer for 10 minutes.
  3. Remove the pie crust from the freezer, prick the bottom with a fork a couple times, line with a square of parchment, and weigh down with pie weights (such as dried beans or rice). Bake until it just starts to cook through and begins to turn very light golden, about 15 minutes. Remove the weights and parchment and continue to bake for another 3 minutes, until the bottom of the pie crust begins to look flaky rather than doughy. Remove from the oven and let cool for 15 minutes. (Don’t worry if there is a little shrinkage—this pie is meant to be rustic.)
  4. Reduce the oven temperature to 350°F.
  5. While the pie shell is cooling, make the filling: Combine the sugar, butter, and eggs in a large bowl and whisk until smooth. Sift in the cacao, flour, cornstarch, and salt, then whisk until fully incorporated. Add the evaporated milk and vanilla and whisk again.
  6. Place the pie plate on a sheet pan, then pour the chocolate filling into the cooled crust. Bake until the filling is just set but still a little jiggly in the center, about 40 to 50 minutes; check the pie after 30 minutes—if the crust is starting to brown too quickly, cover the exposed crust with strips of aluminum foil.
  7. After removing the pie from the oven, place it on a wire rack to cool completely. You can enjoy it at room temperature or refrigerate for at least 2 hours until completely chilled. (You can also make the pie a day in advance and chill overnight.)
  8. To make the tahini cream, combine the cream, sugar, vanilla, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Using an electric mixer or whisk, whip the cream until it reaches soft peaks. Add the tahini a tablespoon at a time, whisking just to combine after each addition. Cover and refrigerate until serving (the cream can be made a couple hours in advance because the tahini helps stabilize it).
  9. To serve, slice the pie with a warm, dry knife (dip the knife in hot water and dry with a towel). Garnish with a generous dollop of the tahini cream and an extra sprinkle of toasted sesame seeds.

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