It's as easy as pie!

Growing up in a southern family, meals weren’t complete without dessert. Pies were almost always in the dessert offerings, especially for Sunday dinner at Grandma’s. You could almost always find chocolate fudge, chocolate meringue, chocolate chip (are you sensing a trend), pecan - with or without chocolate, chess, or coconut cream just to mix things up. For the record, this was my father’s side of the family.

My mother’s side of the family, also from the south, were no slouches in the baking department either. My Aunt Pat is a great baker and I have picked her brain over the years on cakes, breads and yes, pies. She was gracious enough to share her pie crust recipe with me and today I’m sharing it with you.

Recipe Swap

Some of you may not know that I worked my way through college in a country club restaurant and bar. I picked up a lot of knowledge and made several friends, a few of which I still talk with to this day. One day, I was trying to figure out the recipe for the soup of the day which was beer cheese - one of my favorites.

The cook, Jo (short for Josephine), wouldn’t give up the recipe until she found out that I baked and then offered a trade. She was always on the lookout for new desserts and I gave her the recipe for my mother’s Chocolate Chip Pie recipe. Long story short, the pie was a hit with the membership and they were still serving it when I left school after three years. Today, I’m going to share it with you too.

Easy as pie

There is some truth to the old saying easy as pie.  Pie is generally simple to prepare. The crust can be a bit tricky if making it from scratch. But there are plenty of decent pie crusts commercially available if you don’t have the time, or inclination, for truly homemade. So, break out the flour and whip up a pie for your family, church gathering or the next bake sale.

Live, Laugh, Love and Eat Pie!

Aunt Pat’s Pie Crust

  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp salt – I prefer non-iodized for baking
  • 1 TBSP sugar
  • 1 ½ cup shortening (like Crisco) or lard in small cubes
  • 1 Egg
  • 1 TBSP white vinegar
  • ½ cup cold water

Mix the dry ingredients together. Cut in shortening, or lard, into dry ingredients. Rub the butter into the flour with your fingertips until the mixture resembles cornmeal in texture, working as quickly as possible to prevent the dough becoming warm. Combine the egg, vinegar and water and whisk together lightly. Stir the liquid into the flour mixture. When the dough comes together, form into a ball and cover in a bowl. Chill for at least ½ hour before use or freeze for later use. I believe this is enough for two singles or one double crust pie.

Mom’s Chocolate Chip Pie

  • 1 cup sugar
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 eggs, beaten well
  • 1 stick butter, melted
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • ¾ cups chopped pecans (optional – have also used walnuts)
  • ½ cup shredded coconut (optional)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract or paste
  • 1 unbaked pie shell

Cream together the sugar, butter and flour until smooth. Add the remaining ingredients and pour into pie shell. Bake at 325 F until set. Cool before cutting. Note: This pie may look set and still be quite gooey in the middle; I suggest checking with a toothpick.

Chess Pie

  • 1 unbaked pie shell
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 TBSP corn meal
  • 1 TBSP all-purpose flour
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ½ cup butter melted
  • ¼ cup milk
  • 1 TBSP white vinegar
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract or paste
  • 4 large eggs, lightly beaten

Preheat oven to 425°F. Fit the pie crust to a 9-inch baking dish or thaw out a preformed frozen pie crust. Line the pastry with aluminum foil, and fill with pie weights or dried beans to hold foil down. Bake at 425°F for 5 minutes then remove the weights and foil being careful not to rip the pie shell and bake for 2 more minutes or until golden brown. Allow to cool.

Stir together all the other ingredients except the eggs until well blended. Then stir in the eggs last. Pour into pie crust and bake at 350°F for 50 to 55 minutes. You may want to shield the edges of the crust with aluminum foil after 10 or so minutes to avoid excessive browning. Cool completely on a wire rack before serving.

NOTE: There are several variations of chess pie including coconut chess, chocolate-pecan chess and lemon chess. All the variations are simple and if you would like them, please contact me at iCook@ilistmedia.com

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