Magical Chocolate Pie (Chess Pie)

This unapologetically rich chocolate pie is a chess pie and fudge brownie hybrid. It rises like chocolate soufflé in the oven, then falls as it cools which creates a crackly meringue-like top. You’ll love this pie in homemade buttery pie crust and served with fresh whipped cream on top.

slice of chocolate chess pie with whipped cream on top

Diets beware.

This is A Brownie Pie & Chocolate Chess Pie Hybrid

You’re looking at part brownie/part chocolate chess pie. Chess pie is a custard pie and typically combines eggs, sugar, butter, flour, sometimes a little cornmeal, buttermilk, vinegar, and/or flavorings such as vanilla, lemon, or chocolate. I am, by no means, an expert on this Southern specialty but one of the best recipes I’ve tried (and a wonderful description of its origins) is over on The Kitchn. Using some of chess pie’s staple ingredients, I made a chocolate variation.

Though it’s totally cooked, the center tastes like brownie batter.

*It’s magical.*

chocolate chess pie

Tell Me About this Chocolate Pie:

  • Thickness: Thin, but very rich. Any thicker and it would almost be too rich to eat.
  • Texture: Fudge brownie filling that rises like a chocolate soufflé, then falls as the pie cools. The fallen top tastes like crinkly chocolate meringue. It’s utterly irresistible.
  • Ease: I’d say intermediate. You need to partially blind bake the pie crust, but mixing the ingredients together is pretty simple.
  • Baking: Blind bake the crust at 375°F (190°C), then lower to 325°F (163°C) for the filling. A slightly lower oven temperature ensures the thin filling cooks evenly.
  • Time: Homemade pie crust always requires extra effort and time, but you can use store-bought if you’re in a time crunch. The filling comes together quickly, but the pie needs to cool for a couple hours before slicing.

9 Ingredients You Need

  • Chocolate: For deep chocolate flavor, I use both real chocolate and cocoa powder in this filling. Note that you only need 2 ounces of chocolate. Most baking chocolate is sold in 4 ounce bars, so you’ll only use half. I prefer Baker’s or Ghirardelli brands.
  • Butter: Melt butter with the chocolate before adding to the other filling ingredients. This is how I start my brownies from scratch, too.
  • Sugar, Salt, & Vanilla: All add flavor.
  • Cocoa Powder: Chess pie is often thickened with flour and/or cornmeal. Here we’ll use unsweetened cocoa powder because it adds flavor too. Since there’s no chemical leavening occuring, you can use either dutch-process or natural cocoa powder.
  • Espresso Powder: Add espresso powder if you want to kick up the chocolate flavor. The pie tastes good without it, but better with it.
  • Heavy Cream: A lot of chess pie recipes call for evaporated milk, but I use heavy cream here. Heavy cream is convenient because you can top this pie with whipped cream. That being said, if you have a can of evaporated milk, use it instead.
  • Eggs: The workhorse in this recipe, eggs add structure, stability, and texture. You need 3 eggs total. 2 whole eggs + 1 egg yolk for the filling, then save that last egg white for an egg wash. Brush the egg wash on the pie crust before blind baking. A quick egg wash promises a golden brown and shiny pie crust.

bowls of ingredients including cocoa powder, eggs, sugar, and chocolate

Pie Crust

You also need a pie crust shell. If you’re in a pinch, use store-bought. If you have a little more time on your hands, go for homemade. Nothing ever compares to flaky buttery pie crust and you can make it ahead of time. My pie crust recipe yields enough for 2 pies, which is convenient if you also want to make pumpkin pie this holiday season.

  • Partially Blind Bake: Whether you use store-bought or homemade, you need to pre-bake the pie crust. The crust takes longer to bake than the filling, so it needs extra time in the oven. If you skip pre-baking, also known as blind baking, the crust tastes soggy. Roll out your cold pie dough, then fit into a 9-inch pie dish. To prevent the pie dough from shrinking, chill for at least 30 minutes in the pie dish. Line with parchment paper and fill with pie weights (note: 2 packs of these pie weights is needed). Bake until the edges are lightly brown, about 15 minutes. Remove parchment/pie weights, then prick the crust with a fork. Bake crust for 8 more minutes. Fill with chocolate filling, then return to the oven to bake the whole pie.

We do this exact same process when we make quiche. If it’s helpful, I have an in-depth guide and video for How to Blind Bake Pie Crust.

Step by Step Photos Below The Recipe!

slice of chocolate chess pie with whipped cream on top

forkful of chocolate pie

Looking for something gluten free, but just as rich and fudgy? Try my flourless chocolate cake instead.

Sally's Pie Week

This recipe is part of Sally’s Pie Week, an annual tradition where I share multiple new pie recipes. If you’re looking for more inspiration, here are all of my pie recipes. I have dozens! A few of my favorites are french silk pie, apple cranberry pie, and banoffee pie.

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slice of chocolate chess pie with whipped cream on top

Magical Chocolate Pie (Chess Pie)

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 3 hours
  • Cook Time: 55 minutes
  • Total Time: 6 hours, 55 minutes (includes pie crust)
  • Yield: one 9-inch pie
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American

Description

This rich chocolate pie tastes like fudge brownies with a crackly meringue-like topping. To avoid a soggy crust, partially blind bake the dough as directed in the recipe below.


Ingredients

Crust

Egg Wash

  • 1 large egg white, lightly beaten

Filling

  • 1/4 cup (4 Tbsp; 60g) unsalted butter
  • 2 ounces (56g) semi-sweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
  • 3 Tablespoons (16g) unsweetened natural or dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon espresso powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs + 1 large egg yolk
  • optional for serving: whipped cream

Instructions

  1. Pie crust: I like to make sure my pie dough is prepared before I begin making this chocolate pie. Make pie dough the night before because it needs to chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours before rolling out and blind baking (next step).
  2. Roll out the chilled pie dough: On a floured work surface, roll out one of the disks of chilled dough (use the 2nd pie crust for another recipe!). Turn the dough about a quarter turn after every few rolls until you have a circle 12 inches in diameter. Carefully place the dough into a 9-inch pie dish. Tuck it in with your fingers, making sure it is completely smooth. To make a lovely thick edge, I do not trim excess dough around the edges. Instead, fold the excess dough back over the edge and use your hands to mold the edge into a nice thick rim around the pie. Crimp the edges with a fork or use your fingers to flute the edges. Brush edges with egg wash/egg white. Carefully line the inside of the pie with two pieces of parchment paper, as shown in the photo below, then pour in the pie weights. Make sure the weights are evenly distributed around the pie dish. If it’s helpful, you can watch me do this exact step in my praline pumpkin pie video tutorial. Chill the dough in the refrigerator or freezer for at least 30 minutes– this helps prevent the crust from shrinking. You can actually fill with pie weights before or after chilling, it doesn’t make a difference.
  3. Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C).
  4. Partially blind bake the crust: Bake the cold pie crust (with weights) for 15 minutes. Remove pie from the oven and carefully lift the parchment paper (with the weights) out of the pie. Prick holes all around the bottom crust with a fork. Return the pie crust to the oven and bake for 8 minutes to help set the bottom. Remove from the oven and set aside until step 7. You can pre-bake the crust up to 3 days ahead of time. Cover and store in the refrigerator (without weights) until ready to use.
  5. Reduce oven to 325°F (163°C).
  6. For the filling: Cut the butter into pieces so it melts evenly. Place in a large heat-proof bowl. Add chopped chocolate. Melt in 20 second increments in the microwave, stirring after each increment until completely melted and smooth. Set aside and let cool for 2-3 minutes. In a large bowl, whisk the sugar, cocoa powder, espresso powder, and salt together until combined. Whisk in the heavy cream, vanilla, 2 eggs, and 1 egg yolk. Finally, whisk in the cooled butter/chocolate.
  7. Bake: Pour filling into pre-baked pie crust (crust can still be warm). Bake for 50-55 minutes or until the center is no longer jiggly. It can still be a little sticky in the very center on top, just as long as it no longer jiggles when you lightly tap the pan. During bake time, if you find the edges of the pie crust are browning too quickly, apply a pie crust shield or a ring of aluminum foil to protect it.
  8. Remove finished pie from the oven. Place on a wire rack to cool completely or for at least 2 hours. The pie filling will sink and set as it cools.
  9. Garnish with whipped cream, if desired. (I used Wilton 8B piping tip in these photos.) Slice and serve.
  10. Cover and store leftover pie at room temperature for 1-2 days or in the refrigerator for 4-5 days.

Notes

  1. Make Ahead & Freezing Instructions: The pie dough can be prepared ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months. You can pre-bake the pie crust 3 days ahead of time (see step 4). You can prepare the filling 1 day ahead of time. Cover and store in the refrigerator, then bring to room temperature before pouring into pie crust and baking. You can also bake the pie 1-2 days before serving, though it’s best served the day of. If making ahead, store covered at room temperature for 1 day or in the refrigerator for 2 days. You can also freeze the baked and cooled pie for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator and bring to room temperature before serving. To reheat the whole pie, warm it in a 300°F (149°C) oven, covered, for 15-20 minutes.
  2. Pie Crust: Both linked pie crust recipes make 2 crusts. You only need 1 crust for this pie, so freeze the 2nd half for another use. If using store-bought pie dough, you still need to partially blind-bake it (steps 2, 3, and 4). If needed, you can use a graham cracker crust or Oreo cookie crust instead of traditional pie crust. Pre-bake the cookie crust at 350°F (177°C) for 10 minutes. No need for pie weights if using a cookie crust.
  3. Chocolate: Use pure chocolate baking bars. You can find them right next to the chocolate chips in the baking aisle. They are sold in 4 ounce bars, so you’ll only need half. I like Bakers or Ghirardelli brands. I use and recommend semi-sweet chocolate, but you can use bittersweet or unsweetened chocolate for a darker flavor.
  4. Espresso Powder: Espresso powder deepens the chocolate flavor. You can skip it or use 2 teaspoons of instant coffee powder instead.
  5. Heavy Cream: Use heavy cream or heavy whipping cream. If desired, you can use 1/4 cup of evaporated milk instead. I don’t recommend any other substitutes.
  6. Special Tools (affiliate links): Pastry BlenderRolling Pin, Pie Dish (this is my favorite), Parchment Paper, Pie WeightsPastry Brush, Pie Crust Shield

Keywords: chocolate pie, chess pie

To make the filling, the first step is to melt butter and chocolate together. I use the microwave, but you can use a double boiler instead.

melted chocolate and butter in glass bowl

As instructed in step 6, whisk the other filling ingredients together, then whisk in the melted chocolate/butter mixture.

chocolate pie filling dropping off of a whisk

This recipe requires a partially blind baked pie crust shell. Follow my detailed instructions above. My How to Blind Bake Pie Crust video and guide is helpful too. I use and recommend (affiliate link) these pie weights. You need 2 packs to fill a pie shell.

white pie weights in a pie crust shell

After partially blind baking, pour in the chocolate filling and bake.

chocolate pie filling in pie crust shell

108 Comments

  1. Hi Sally,

    Love love love your recipes! Just checking do you need to grease the pie dish before adding the pastry? Thanks!

    1. Hi Lisa, the pie crust has enough butter to prevent sticking. No need to grease the pie dish.

  2. I will definitely make this for thanksgiving. Also are you just using brownie batter or is it different. If you are using plain brownie batter can I try my own. Last question, do you have any other favorite pie recipes. Thanks!!!

    1. Hi Harper, this isn’t technically brownie batter (it’s thinner), but you could try using your favorite brownie batter instead. One of my favorite pie recipes is this salted caramel apple pie if you’d ever like to try that.

  3. This recipe is fantastic! The texture is perfect and the chocolate flavor is amazing. Your half butter half/shortening pie crust is my new favorite crust. Thank you so much!

  4. Tried this recipe out with Tollhouse chocolate chips and added pecans. The taste was amazing, and I achieved the crackle on top, but my first attempt’s consistency ended up similar to a lava cake. The center was quite runny, so it flowed when we cut into it on the day. I probably could’ve left it in the oven longer?

    In any case, after an overnight rest in the fridge, the filling firmed up completely, and it still tasted great. 🙂

    1. Hi Cam! That’s great it firmed up in the refrigerator. It sounds like the pie could have benefitted from a few extra minutes in the oven. An easy fix if you ever try the pie again. Thank you!

  5. I don’t have pie weights and really don’t have time to find them before Thanksgiving…will the crust still be ok without this step? I have made crusts before and they do get bubbly. Thank you!

    1. Hi Tiffany, sugar or uncooked beans also work for blind baking (give it a quick internet search for detailed instructions!). The crust will lost its shape without pie weights, but you can certainly try it. Or try a cookie crust detailed in the recipe notes.

  6. How about an Oreo cookie crust for this recipe?

    1. That works! See recipe note.

  7. Thoughts on adding pomegranate arils to this pie? I have a double chocolate pomegranate cookie recipe that we make for Christmas, but I’d like to mimic the cookies with this pie recipe!

    1. Hi Clarke! That sounds delicious. I really can’t say how the pie would turn out there. I think they’d be great as a garnish.

  8. Hi Sally! Can I make this in a sheet pan and serve “pie bars”?

    1. Hi Olivia! I haven’t tested it, so I can’t be sure. I’m guessing a 9×13 inch baking pan but I fear that would even be too big. Let me know if you try anything.

  9. Best pie ever. I made a gluten free crust and it only took 45 minutes in my oven but otherwise followed recipe exactly. Absolute perfection.

    1. So glad you enjoyed this one, Pat!

  10. Outstanding! Very rich, and so tasty! I followed the recipe exactly and would not change a thing. My guests said it was out of this world delicious!

    1. Thrilled to hear it was a hit with your guests, Erin! Thank you for giving this recipe a try.

  11. Sally this pie was a hit with my family they love the rich chocolate flavor. I made the whip cream to put in top it was delicious! I
    love your recipes and all the details you include in order to have a successful bake. Thank you!

    1. Thank you so much for the positive feedback, Robin – and for making and trusting so many of my recipes!

  12. Will this pie set without flour or cornstarch?

    Thanks
    Trish

  13. Wow, it looks really delicious! My kids will love this, the problem is I don’t have espresso powder, lucky that you said I can just use 2 teaspoons of instant coffee powder instead, great!. Will also try to add some chocolate chips at the top for my kids. Thank you for sharing this, awesome post!

  14. Hi Sally, do you think this recipe would work for muffin-tin size pies? And do you think the crust would still need to be pre-baked?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Sara, I’m sure that it could work as mini pies but we haven’t tested it so I’m unsure of the bake time needed. The crusts will be small enough that they shouldn’t need to be pre-baked but you can definitely pre-bake them if you’d like them a bit crispier. I’d say about 5-10 minutes at 375°F (191°C) and then continue with the filling. Let us know if you try it!

      1. I tried it out and I recommend pre-baking the crust to get the crisp texture. I baked the pies for about 20min. They could have been filled a little more for a better filling:crust ratio but they’re great otherwise!

    2. I’ve made so many great pies now just from following your recipes since the pandemic started, so thank you!

      Would 2oz semi-sweet morsels work as well as chopping up chocolate squares for this?

      1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

        Hi Brian, thank you so much for making our recipes. Pure baking chocolate will be best for this recipe.

  15. So excited to make this pie today! I made the crust dough last night, and was able to have the pie weights you linked to delivered this morning 🙂 My concern is that I only ordered one set. I see now you say two are needed; am I really playing with fire if I just use one set? Should I use another method (like the granulated sugar one you linked to in your blind-bake post?) or will the one set suffice?

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Jenna, two sets is recommended to weigh down the pie dough properly. You could try adding some dry beans to the weights or use the sugar method instead. Happy baking!

  16. Love this pie! Have you tried to use 1.5x the filling recipe or do you think the crust would be too full?

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Sarah, we don’t suggest adding more filling to this pie. The fudge brownie filling rises like a soufflé, then falls as the pie cools.

  17. Love chocolate chees pie! This recipe sounds fantastic. If using a store bought crust do I still need to use pie weights? Thanks

    – T

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Thomas! Yes, whether you use store-bought or homemade, you need to pre-bake the pie crust using pie weights. Enjoy!

  18. I made this pie tonight and it was so delicious! I didn’t have espresso powder so I had to omit this but reading the recipe through, it looks like this was optional. In place of pie weights I used sugar. Worked just fine. The pie came out of the oven a little uneven/high on one side but within minutes it settled and I had a beautiful meringue-like crust. I could not wait the full two hours for the pie to cool! I topped it with a little whipped cream and demolished a slice. This recipe is a keeper!

  19. I made this pie today for Pi Day. It is a great pie and hit so many notes. A slight crunch with the meringue(ish) top, a creamy, soufflé(ish) center, and the deep chocolate flavor with a hint of espresso. I whipped my own cream and used Sally’s pie crust recipe. I did make a mistake with the crust and it was dry. However, the harder crust offset the creamy center. Yummy!

  20. Heavy cream / heavy whipping cream and evaporated milk are a bit hard to come by here, could I use condensed milk or fresh cream instead? If yes, then at what quantities?

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Rebecca! The only substitute we’d recommend here would be 1/4 cup of evaporated milk in place of the 1/4 cup of heavy cream or heavy whipping cream. We haven’t successfully tested anything else, so best to stick with just these options. Hope you’ll be able to give this pie a try!

  21. Sally love your site and also appreciate how you give us the chemistry or background of recipes. So I have a question for you. I’ve got a recipe from my grandma that’s also for chocolate chess pie. It calls for vinegar. What does the vinegar do? No espresso in grandma’s. I know it enhances the chocolate flavor does it do anything else? Thank you.

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Lemmonee, We are so happy you have been enjoying the site! The espresso here enhances the chocolate flavor. You can leave it out but it really takes it to the flavor next level! Vinegar is a common ingredient in many desserts. Depending on your grandmother’s recipe it may have been needed as an acidic ingredient to react with baking soda, or it can be used to cut sweetness in desserts and add a hint of tang.

  22. Hands down THE BEST CHOCOLATE CHESS PIE I’VE EVER HAD!!

  23. Claire Smith says:

    Can I use extra melted chocolate instead of cocoa powder?

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Claire, we use both cocoa powder and baking chocolate to create an extra deep flavor. Cocoa powder can be a finicky ingredient, so removing it and replacing with more baking chocolate would take some additional recipe testing in order to guarantee results. Best to stick with the recipe as written, but let us know if you decide to experiment at all.

  24. Shilpi Arora says:

    Hi sally ,
    I am a huge fan of your work and love your recipes.You are my inspiration.
    I made the chess pie with an Oreo crust and followed the recipe . However midway my crust seemed to burn.
    Also I took it out in 40 mins since it looked done. My temperature was around 170 degree centigrade.
    The filling was lovely and my family loved it.
    1) what do I do avoid the burning of Oreo crust.
    2) can I make this gorgeous pie without a crust .If so pls advice how .
    3) Do u advice a water bath

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Shilpi, we’re happy to help troubleshoot here. Did you lower your temperature after par-baking the crust? We recommend baking the complete pie at 325°F (163°C). You can also try moving the pie down a rack, away from the heating element, to prevent burning. We haven’t tried a crustless version of the pie, and we don’t use a water bath either. Hope this is helpful for next time!

      1. Hi Lexi ,
        Thanks for your prompt reply.
        I prevailed the crust for 7 minutes then let it cool.
        Then added the pie filling .
        I read 190 in the recipe .
        Will try what your saying .
        I don’t know what to do but I loved the filling and I am so keen to make it sans a crust as well . It tasted epic . I wish you can help me achieve that .

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