Alison Miksch

Colonial days sure did it right.

Recipes for chess-like pies date back to Colonial days and are as varied as the maker, but all share a wickedly rich mix of butter, sugar, and eggs. Some are thickened with cornmeal, others with flour. Buttermilk, cider vinegar, or citrus often mellows the high- voltage sweetness. Pie historians remain divided on the origins of the name. Some claim it’s a Southern corruption of the archaic British “cheese” pie, others speculate the sugar-laden fillings had unrivaled keeping qualities when stored in a pie “ches—a ventilated cupboard with punched tin doors where pies were stored before refrigeration. And then there’s the notion that it’s “jes’ pie”, stirred together in a pinch with ingredients cooks commonly had on hand and baked in flaky crusts made with home-rendered lard. Our Pumpkin-Lemon Cream Cheese Chess Pie is marbled with swirls of citrus-flavored cream cheese for a dreamy Thanksgiving update on a classic.

Fore more pies, check out our Old-Fashioned Pies & Cobblers.