Nana Frances’s Chocolate Chess Pie

Chocolate, Desserts, Pie, Southern / Tuesday, September 4th, 2012

School’s in, which means I can finally rope my sister, Jennifer, into sharing more recipes. Confetti! Fireworks!–Rebecca

By Jennifer Rather.

Early in our married life, Husband asked if I could make a fudge pie like his Nana Frances’s. Like an idiot, I said, “Sure, where’s the recipe?”

He said, “Well, it cracks on top, but it’s creamy and thick in the middle. Like a brownie, but gooier. In a crust.”

Now, let me say, I’ve had many fudge pies. My momma makes a great one, and they are a staple at any Southern Baptist function. But this was a specific pie. Just like I’d know my Mommaw’s biscuits at 100 paces, Husband knew this pie.

I needed more than a description. I needed that recipe.

Luckily, my mother-in-law took mercy on my clueless self and found it. And so began my trials and tribulations with the “Easiest Pie Ever.”

Pies One and Two taught me that a “small can of evaporated milk” means the 5-ounce, not the 12. They were both garbaged.

Pie Number Three reminded me that there is a difference in a quarter-cup of butter and one-quarter of a stick. You wouldn’t think two tablespoons could make such a huge difference, but they do. Absolutely.

Pie Number Four showed me that small children should not have spray cleaner near a pie. That one was over before it began.

So, Pie Number Five. For this one, I combined all my knowledge and finally, finally, Husband bit into it and said, “You did it! This is the one!”

And he was right.

As it cooled, the top formed and sugary crust and started to crack, just like Nana Frances’, but inside, it was rich and creamy, like an undercooked brownie. Everyone had a piece and declared it their “very favorite ever.”

Now, I’m saving it here, so when my great-grandchildren want to know about Nana Jenn’s pie, those poor wretches know what to do.

You’re welcome.

Nana Frances’s Fudge Pie (aka Chocolate Chess Pie)

Makes one 9-inch deep-dish pie (about 6 to 8 servings)

  • 1 unbaked 9-inch deep-dish pie shell (homemade or store-bought)
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3 heaping tablespoons cocoa powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 5 ounces evaporated milk
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. If you’re using a homemade crust, roll it out, and place it in a 9-inch deep-dish pie pan. (If store-bought, follow the directions on the package for a one-crust filled pie.)
  3. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the sugar, cocoa and salt.
  4. Add the evaporated milk, melted butter, eggs, and vanilla. Stir together until everything is completely combined.
  5. Pour the filling into your pie shell, and bake for 45 to 50 minutes. (If you’re using a thinner store-bought crust, cover it with aluminum foil or a pie crust shield halfway through baking to keep the crust from getting too dark.) When the pie is finished, it will be set but still a little jiggly in the center.
  6. Cool the pie on a wire rack. Serve it warm, or chill for a few hours before slicing. Pairs fabulously with vanilla ice cream or homemade whipped cream.

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