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Chocolate Chess Pie

Chocolate Chess Pie was my grandmother Bobbie’s signature fall and winter pie.  It made appearances on every holiday table and was the one pie that made it onto everyone’s dessert plate, along with a dollop of fresh whipped cream. Chess pie is a very southern concoction, the basic chess is sugar, eggs, and butter, with different additions changing the pie.  Chess pies can range from tart lemon chess to rich and heavenly chocolate.  Can you tell which one is my preference?

I’ve written about Tar Heel Pie before, a chocolate chess pie with pecans in it.  Apparently Tar Heel Pie is a product of a North Carolina marketing push in the 1980s, a way to assign a signature pie to the Tar Heel state.  And as much as I love that pecany addition, there is something to be said about the basic, original pie.  Rich. Dreamy. Wonderful.

Chocolate Chess Pie

Pie Dough:

2 1/2 cups flour

2 tbsp sugar

1 tsp salt

1/4 cup shortening

1/2 cup butter

1/2 cup ice water

Filling:

1 cup chocolate chips

1 stick melted butter

1 tsp vanilla

1/2 cup flour

1/2 cup white sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar

2 eggs, beaten

Whipped Cream:

1 cup heavy whipping cream

1/4 cup sugar

1 tsp vanilla

1 tsp ginger

Start with your pie dough.  Sift dry ingredients.  Using your hands, work in shortening.  Cube butter and work it in.  Continue to blend until the consistency is that of course cornmeal.  Stir in the water, a little at a time until your dough forms a ball.  Divide in half.  Wrap each half in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Pour hot butter over chocolate chips and stir until fully incorporated.  Whisk together remaining ingredients and add to chocolate.

Remove half of the dough from the fridge.  Roll it out on a floured, non-stick surface (like a sil-pat).  Roll it out so it is 1 foot x 1 foot wide and 1/4″ thick.  Drape the crust over the rolling pin and transfer it to the pie dish.  Press into the pie dish.  Scoop filling into the pie dish.

Bake at 350* for 30-40 minutes.

Let cool completely.  Whip together cream, sugar, vanilla, and ginger.  Serve pie topped with whipped cream.

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Ginger & Pear Pie

There is something about the combination of pear, ginger, and vanilla that makes me wild.  It’s sweet but also has this wonderful edge.  I love pears, and pear pie is probably my favorite fruit pie these days, which is why I chose this pie as the first of February’s sweet pies.  Not to mention that the shape of the pear is, in my opinion, one of the most beautiful in nature.  Soft, gentle, gorgeous.  Can you tell the pie is already getting to my head?

I’ve also decided to take this month-of-pies challenge as a way to work on my photographic creativity.  I went back through my archives recently and made a list of all the posts that I’d like to rephotograph (there were 23, now there are 20!), and it got me thinking about the overall photography of the site.  It’s easy to get into a rut, to take the same photographs over and over again so I want to try and push myself.  Incorporate new angles, new design elements, etc.  Do you have any photographic tricks that you rely on?  Any advice?

Libby over at Edible CVille is joining me and making one pie a week! Are you partaking in the National Pie Month Challenge? Let me know, I’ll be listing the pie bloggers at the end of each post.  See more b&s pie recipes here.

Ginger & Pear Pie

Dough:

Basic pie dough recipe (found here)

1 tbsp ginger

1 tsp cinnamon

Filling:

6 bartlett pears

1 tbsp ginger

1 tsp cinnamon

2 tbsp butter

1/4 cup sugar

3 tbsp flour

1 tsp vanilla extract

Whipped Cream:

1 cup heavy whipping cream

1/4 cup sugar

1 tsp ginger

1 tsp vanilla extract

For glaze:

One egg

Start with your pie dough.  Sift dry ingredients.  Using your hands, work in shortening.  Cube butter and work it in.  Continue to blend until the consistency is that of course cornmeal.  Stir in the water, a little at a time until your dough forms a ball.  Divide in half.  Wrap each half in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Peel and thinly slice your pears.  In a large skillet melt butter.  Add in pears and cook over medium heat.  Mix in spices, sugar, and extract.  Cook 7-10 minutes, or until the pears have softened slightly.  Remove from heat and stir in flour.

Remove half of the dough from the fridge.  Roll it out on a floured, non-stick surface (like a sil-pat).  Roll it out so it is 1 foot x 1 foot wide and 1/4″ thick.  Drape the crust over the rolling pin and transfer it to the pie dish.  Press into the pie dish.  Scoop filling into the pie dish.  Roll out top, repeating the steps, and lay it over the pie.  Press the edges together and remove any excess dough.

Whisk egg and brush over the top of the pie.  Cut slits in the top and bake for 45 minutes at 375.

To serve, whip cream, sugar, ginger, and extract together until stiff.

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Smokey Chicken Pie

If you follow me on twitter you’ll know that I’ve been in kind of a slump lately.  Part of it is that I’ve been sick a lot lately, it’s that time of year where I have cold upon cold upon flu upon cold.  Then there’s the weather.  It’s been dreary, I don’t want to do much of anything.  Fighting this slump has been hard, no amount of exercise or positive thinking seems to make me want to do anything but mope around.  I’ve been looking for something, anything to help snap me out of it.  So when I learned that February is National Pie Month it hit me- this is the perfect opportunity to give myself a task, a mission!

For the month of February, in honor of this sacred month o’ pie, I will be posting two pie recipes a week.  One savory, one sweet.  Plus a romantical bonus pie on Valentine’s Day.  I’ve gotten a lot of requests so far but if there’s a pie in particular that you’d like to see, I’d love to hear it!  I think this is going to be a fun journey, friends!  Exactly what we need to kick the midwinter blues.  Furthermore, if you’d like to join me in celebrating National Pie Month, let me know and I’ll add links to each post.  And you can follow all the fun on twitter under #natlpiemonth!

This week’s savory pie is a smokey chicken pie.  A close cousin of a chicken pot pie but without the pot (and the gravy) it is, as my friend Nick described it, “the best parts of thanksgiving between two crusts.  It’s hearty but not too heavy, with a lot of flavor and a ton of fresh vegetables packed in there.  The perfect kick off to the month o’ pie!

Smokey Chicken Pie

Crust:

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1 tbsp salt

1 tsp paprika

1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

1 tsp garlic powder

1/4 cup vegetable shortening

1 stick butter

1/2 cup ice cold water

Filling:

2 chicken breasts

2 cups peas (frozen)

2 garlic cloves

3 tbsp butter

4-6 medium sized carrots

10-12 cremini mushrooms

3 red potatoes

1 red onion

1 cup green onions, chopped

4 tbsp chicken stock

3 tbsp plain yogurt

2 tsps liquid smoke

1 tbsp salt

1 tsp red pepper flakes

1 tsp cayenne pepper

1 tsp paprika

1 tsp chipotle powder

1 egg for glazing

Start with your pie dough.  Sift dry ingredients.  Using your hands, work in shortening.  Cube butter and work it in.  Continue to blend until the consistency is that of course cornmeal.  Stir in the water, a little at a time until your dough forms a ball.  Divide in half.  Wrap each half in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Cook your chicken breast.  Set aside.

In a large skillet, melt butter.  Dice garlic and add to the pan.  Peel and chop carrots, add to the pan.  Dice potatoes, mushrooms, and onion.  Add to the mix.  Cook over medium heat until the carrots and potatoes have softened slightly.  Add vegetable stock, 1/2 of the liquid smoke, and spices.  Stir in green onions.  Cook for 10-12 minutes.  Remove from heat.

While the vegetables are cooking, chop your chicken.  Return to pan and saute in remaining liquid smoke and a dash of salt.  Add into the mix.  Stir in yogurt.

Remove half of the dough from the fridge.  Roll it out on a floured, non-stick surface (like a sil-pat).  Roll it out so it is 1 foot x 1 foot wide and 1/4″ thick.  Drape the crust over the rolling pin and transfer it to the pie dish.  Press into the pie dish.  Scoop filling into the pie dish.  Roll out top, repeating the steps, and lay it over the pie.  Press the edges together and remove any excess dough.

Whisk egg and brush over the top of the pie.  Cut slits in the top and bake for 45 minutes at 375.

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