My friend whom I write with once a week, the very accomplished Southern scribe Wichita Sims, sometimes mentions mini-chess pies in her stories. In one story in particular, they were being baked and served at a wedding.
The other day, I was at a real life funeral and texted her (I know — rude! Or modern, depending on your age…) and she texted back like wildfire: “Are there any mini-chess pies?”
Well, there was no food of any kind, since it was just the portion at the Shul with people retiring afterwards to the grave site to watch the body inserted in the ground (unappetizing!). The food was all later in the evening but I was pretty sure there wouldn’t be any mini-chess pies — or maxi ones either for that matter!
This peaked my curiosity, so when I did my baking for Thanksgiving, I reserved some raw pie crust, thinking I’d make mini-chess pies with it, mistakenly believing that they were the same as something called “Chess Tarts” we’d seen Narsai David’s recipe for.
See photo above for what I ended up with. Being me, I of course added my own touches, such as bits of candied orange instead of currents, but when I told Wichita what I’d done she was horrified!
“Chess pie isn’t made with nuts!” she exclaimed.
She promptly unearthed a recipe from an elderly Aunt down South (which featured a brand of “olio” called Hilco, among other homey touches).
Now I have to try to make REAL mini-chess pies, which apparently taste like treacle tarts (mmm…!) and involve nothing more than sugar, shortening, flour, and eggs.
The fakes were pretty good too. Recipe(s) to follow!