Wednesday, November 25, 2009

A NEW Chess Pie

What can I bring to Thanksgiving Dinner? That's what I asked when Jennifer and Allan asked us to come to their party tomorrow. We already have a lunch at Liz's but that is at noon; Jen and Allan are having people for dinner in the evening. If we don't fill up on breakfast and lunch, we should be able to, easily, handle a second party. We are both very excited! For years we have been the hosts on Thanksgiving. A couple of years we went home to Texas; a couple of years we just hung out together - but usually Thanksgiving is at Two-A; and we've always been happy about that. This year, though, when Liz asked us, we decided to try something new. Well, this will be new! We chose what we would make and take to Liz's lunch.. something healthy, of course; but it should be fun, too! So we're going to take the cabbage raisin dish and some pumpkin chocolate chip muffins (and now that I can make them wheat free, they will be healthier -- don't confuse the issue, though --healthiER; they still have sugar and fat). When Jen and Allan asked us to their dinner, too, though, I asked what we should bring. Jen, a world class baker, asked me to come back into the kitchen and bake something ( I rarely bake anymore, for obvious reasons ).

"Will you make me a chess pie?"

Of course I will make Jen a chess pie. It is one of my specialties. I am known for my chess pie (when it comes to baking). People love my chess pie. Even the Yankees and the Easterners -- even the West Coasters who don't know from chess pie -- they all love my chess pie. There are many, though, who don't know what it is because it is a Southern thing. It's like a buttermilk pie but there are inherent differences in the two. I will include the chess pie recipe that I use -- it is right out of the Better Homes and Garden Cookbook that my mama gave me when I left for college.

The thing about THIS chess pie, though... the thing that makes today's chess pie - the one I am making for Thanksgiving at Jen and Allan's tomorrow is that it is completely and totally wheat free. You see, Jennifer is allergic to wheat. She lives a gluten free life. That is why she is continually inventing new recipes for http://www.thischickbakes.com/ that are gluten free. I couldn't, possibly, make a pie that Jen couldn't eat. So I asked her how one makes a wheat free crust. She gave me a rough framework on it and two days ago I tried it, for the first time. I did a test run of a chess pie that is wheat/gluten free.




And it WORKED!!! Jennifer advised me that I could actually make a pie crust out of nuts. I asked for more details and this is what she told me -- walnuts or almonds are a good place to start. You will need something like a 2/3 cup nuts to 1/3 cup flour ratio. So I put a mixture of these two types of nuts through my Magic Bullet (dudes, we use that thing EVERY day) until they were ground to a fine powder -- and even then there were a few pieces of actual nut, which gives it a more interesting texture and makes it more fun to eat. I poured this nut mixture into a bowl and added the 1/3 cup of flour (Bob's Red Mill Wheat free Gluten Free All Purpose Baking Flour) and about 1/4 teaspoon of Xantham Gum (you must use it whenever you use this flour - follow the directions on the flour label). Then I added about a half a stick of melted butter and about 1/4 cup brown sugar (it binds it all together). I mix it up into a paste - and if it is not smooth, I add tiny little bits of water until it IS smooth. Once it is, I dust the bottom of my glass pie plate with the Gluten Free Flour and then I put the mixture in bit by bit, patting it down, evenly, across the bottom of the plate and up the sides of the plate. Once it is spread evenly, I bake it for about 15 - 20 minutes at 350 degrees, watching it like a hawk. When it is solid, like a pie crust should be, NOT burned but NOT uncooked, I pull it out and set it aside to cool. When it is cool - and I mean COLD, room temp, not even slightly warm; be patient. I make the normal chess pie recipe (watching it like a hawk!). When that part is done, I set it aside to cool for half an hour and then put it in the fridge for an hour or more. You can see, by the way it cuts in the attached videos that it works better that way.
Now. Here is the recipe for Chess Pie from the Better Homes and Garden New Cook Book.
1/2 cup butter
2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon flour (Bob's is a 1:1 ratio so you don't need to convert anything but you will need to sprinkle in about 1/4 teaspoon of Xantham Gum)
1 tablespoon yellow cornmeal
5 well beaten eggs
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
Cream the butter and sugar; beat in flour and cornmeal. Add eggs, milk, vanilla and beat well. Pour into pie crust. Bake in moderate oven 350 degrees 50 to 60 minutes or until a knife inserted comes out clean.
Let it sit. Cool. Cut. Serve. Die and go to heaven.

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