What is bright and tart with lemon, silky and unctuous with a hint of pecans? Perfect Lemon Chess Pie! This easy dessert is so delicious that you have to close your eyes with the first bite and simply sigh. And every bite afterwards. It’s just THAT good.
What is lemon chess pie and where does the name originate? “Chess” is really a colloquial or mispronunciation of “cheese.” In this case, the cheese is actually lemon curd – a beautiful curd that develops as the pie bakes. For a chess pie that is an old variation on a pecan pie, check out the recipe for Thomas Jefferson’s Chess Pie. It is also delicious but quite different from this perfect lemon chess pie by Gale Gand. I made a couple of tweaks, including adding some chopped pecans. Don’t get put off by the amount of sugar in this recipe. The finished pie is not overly sweet thanks to the amount of fresh lemon juice and zest. It is really just perfect.
Refrigerated, the pie will last for several days, although it is best to bring it to room temperature to eat – assuming you have the will power to wait!
Yield: 8 servings
2 cups sugar
1 Tablespoon flour
1 Tablespoon fine yellow cornmeal
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
4 large or extra large eggs
1/4 cup milk (1% milk worked fine)
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) of unsalted butter, melted
Grated zest of 3 medium lemons (about 2+ Tablespoons)
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup of coarsely chopped pecans
1 9-inch unbaked pie shell
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Combine the sugar, flour, cornmeal and salt in a large bowl. Add the eggs and mix well.
Add the milk and mix. Then stir in the melted butter, pecans, lemon zest and lemon juice until everything is well distributed. Pour into the unbaked pie shell. Cover the rim carefully with foil or a pie shield, which I highly recommend getting if you are into baking pies. Bake for 30 minutes and then carefully remove the pie shield. Continue baking until the pie filling is well-browned and barely jiggles. The original recipe said for a total baking time of 45 minutes, but mine took closer to an hour. Ovens vary so watch it. The finished pie forms a very brown, slightly sugary crust.
Allow to cool completely before cutting. Refrigerate left-overs.