Even if you can’t make it to the Pie Town Pie Festival, you can make yourself a slice of Pie-O-Neer’s spicy, nutty chess pie.
Pie Town, New Mexico, one of our featured food cities in this year’s Taste of the West, hosts its own pie festival the second Saturday of September — that’s this Saturday, September 14.
Pie Town isn’t exactly easy to get to, so we understand if you can’t attend the big day. Kathy Knapp owner of Pie-O-Neer in Pie Town does not want you feeling left out. Here’s her recipe for chocolate chess pie with red chile and nuts, including creative alternate ideas.
Chocolate Chess With Red Chile and Nuts
(Makes 1 pie)
Use a small pie pan (8” or less)
Preheat oven to 325 degrees
½ cup (1 stick) butter
2 ounces Baker’s Chocolate Bar, semisweet or 60 percent cocao chips
2 eggs, lightly beaten
¾ cup light brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ – 1 teaspoon red chile powder*
¾ cup nuts, toasted and chopped (walnuts make it taste like a fudge brownie)
Unbaked pie crust
In a small heat-proof bowl or Pyrex measuring cup, melt the butter and chocolate. Microwave or double-boiler method work, just don’t boil the mixture. Once melted, mix together, using a heat-proof spatula. In another small mixing bowl, lightly beat 2 eggs and then stir in the brown sugar, mixing until all lumps are gone.
Add vanilla and red chile powder to the egg and brown sugar mixture. Mix well. Stir in melted chocolate and butter. Beat this mixture using a whisk, or large salad fork, for at least a minute, incorporating air into mixture. You can use a hand rotary mixer but an electric mixer will incorporate too much air unless you use low speed. Mixture should almost double in volume and lose its sheen.
Cover the bottom of the unbaked pie crust with nuts, reserving a few for decoration. Using a spatula, scrape all of mixture into pie crust and bake approximately 35 – 40 minutes. Filling can be a little jiggly in the middle. Pie will puff up while baking then fall when cooled. Decorate the top with remaining nuts.
* Use only pure red chile powder. Do not use a “chili mix,” which will contain other spices. You can start with a mild chile powder, and then try a warm or hot for more kick.
Tip: This is a very thin pie. You may want to double the recipe and use 1-½ filling for a pie, reserving the rest in a covered container in the fridge for another use. We sometimes make a scrap pie. Scrap pies are free-form “pies” utilizing leftover dough scraps, fitted into small pans.
Add ½ cup chopped candied ginger for to make chocolate chess pie with candied ginger. Sometimes we add a cherry topping once the pie is cool. You can use a can of cherry pie filling, or the recipe below.
Chocolate Chess With Cherries
1 tablespoon cornstarch or tapioca starch
1 cup cold water
½ cup sugar
3 cups frozen cherries
Whisk together starch, sugar, and cold water in a medium saucepan. Cook over low heat, stirring until sugar and starch are dissolved. Add cherries and continue to cook for a few minutes, until sauce begins to thicken (you may have to use a medium heat).
Let this cool about 15 minutes, then spoon over top of cooled pie. Cherry topping will need to set up before slicing pie.
For more information on Pie-O-Neer, visit the restaurant’s website. Recipe adapted courtesy Pie-O-Neer
Photography: Courtesy Pie-O-Neer