Sour Cream Chess Pie

Chess Pie, from what I understand, is a very old and southern custard pie. Where it came from, no one knows for sure. Wikipedia says that it could be from a piece of furniture called a pie chest. Or that it could be from the mangling of the words “It’s Just Pie/It’s Jes Pie”. Which honestly has to be the dumbest way anything has gotten it’s name.

If you google ‘sour cream chess pie’, it will ask you “Did you mean Sour Cream CHEESE pie?” No, Google, I didn’t. Regardless if this is a real thing or not, it’s on the docket for today.

Let’s Cook

Once again there is some interpretation needed for this guy.

  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon cornmeal
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Ground Mace
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup sour cream

Had no idea what ground mace was and learned that nutmeg was a suitable substitute. Also, the recipe never tells you when to add the mace or cornmeal, but I didn’t think that was really going to screw things up too much.

After making my pastry dough and chilling it, I got down to putting the pie together. The whole time thinking “This really isn’t much of anything”. When you cream together just half a stick of butter and 3/4 cup sugar – nothing truly magical happens. It never really got “light and fluffy”. To me, it seems like the ratio is off…Or maybe I was supposed to do it with a hand mixer? Maybe the stand mixer is too big? All of these are good questions – with no answers.

Let’s keep going.

Add it all together and pour into your pie shell. I have seen enough baking competitions and shows to know that for some pies, you should blind bake the shell. For others you don’t. I have NO idea if this is one of those times. Maybe back then this was all inherently understood and why waste time putting it into the recipe. I did not blind bake the shell. I’m thinking that maybe I should have?

This sat in the oven for 70 minutes and came out looking like the moment in Alien when it comes bursting through that poor mans chest. It was this huge mound of puffed up custard in the middle. But within minutes it had flattened down.

Left it to cool.

End Result

It’s good. Or rather, it’s not gross. It honestly didn’t taste like much at all. Not overly sweet, but not an overwhelming taste of sour cream, which is what I was afraid of. My pastry was a bit soggy on the bottom – but that wasn’t the fault of the recipe. No one likes a soggy bottom.

I think maybe some good whipped cream or maybe a powdered sugar top could be nice. I understand now that the corn meal is supposed to rise to the top and create sort of a darker crunch topping. Every picture I see of chess pie on has that dark crust on top. However, there are only 266 reviews of that recipe. I don’t think that’s enough high praise for me to try again.

But all in all – not a failure.

Lastly, if you noticed that this recipe said “Serves 6”. That’s a big ass piece of pie y’all.

What do you think?