Minny’s Chocolate Chess Pie Recipe from ‘The Help’ makes for a fun movie ending but the Chocolate Chess Pie is actually one of the simplest and best pie recipes around.
When our challenge from Coleen at The Redhead Baker for this month’s Progressive Eats was to make something inspired by a movie or TV show, I have to tell you my mind went blank. There was already something in our list from the first movie I considered, ‘The Hundred Foot Journey’ and while I thought maybe I would do a cocktail inspired by ‘Mad Men’ I’ve done that before so I didn’t make a rash decision and decided to revisit the topic later.
The following week I was asked to bring a dessert to a friend’s barbecue; something both adults and kids would love. Quite honestly, if challenged with a dessert that bridges generations, I know it has to be good but it also has to be simple. I learned a long time ago that events like these are not the place to bring a showstopper that takes me hours and hours to perfect. Kids don’t want showstoppers, they do better with something well known and simple and I do better when I don’t have to worry about piles of it being left on their plates and ending up in the trash; that makes me want to weep.
So I decided to make an easy chocolate pie, one I’ve had in my repertoire for years that satisfies everyone…nary a bite has ever been thrown away! I found the recipe in my database and while I do have it titled ‘Favorite Chocolate Pie’ the subtitle was a gift…’Minny’s Chocolate Pie from the movie, ‘The Help.’ Oh my gosh, that’s right…this pie IS from a movie. Two birds. One stone. Perfect.
Now, if I wasn’t charged with bringing this simple dish to a meal with kids I might have mixed it up a bit by including bourbon in the mix…but it really needed no modification; it’s simply amazing just the way it is.
Now, if you know the movie, you might know that this pie was renown, everybody in town loved Minny’s Chocolate Pie; it was her legacy. The Help‘s ending hinges on a secret involving Minny’s famous chocolate pie. As is typical in the making of a film, the scenes requiring pie required far more than one pie. Newspaper columnist Lee Ann Flemming, one of the best bakers in Greenwood, Mississippi, made 53 chocolate pies during filming, including 12 vegan and gluten-free versions she prepared in just one day for actress Bryce Dallas Howard.
Her fudgy version here is neither vegan nor gluten-free; it’s as classic as it gets. You can make your own crust, but Flemming used packaged crust and so did I. I enjoy making pie crusts but trust me, there are times when a prepared crust is the perfect crust and I did not need to be pushed to follow her lead. I always keep a supply of the Pillsbury type crusts in my freezer; the kind that you put into your own pie dish. I actually like using an 8″ dish for them and it worked perfectly with this recipe.
Like my pie plate? I love it too; courtesy of Goodwill. But beyond Goodwill, someone obviously loved pies from Marie Callander’s because the name is imprinted on the bottom. The crust worked better in the smaller dish and so did the filling; so I suggest you can use an 8″ or 9″ pie plate.
Truth be told, this pie is really a very Southern traditional pie called a Chocolate Chess Pie. At its heart are always the basic four ingredients—flour, butter, sugar, and eggs plus cocoa for flavoring this one. Preparation is never much more than a little stirring and about half an hour to 45 minutes in the oven. What comes out is a magical transformation.Why Chess? No one has ever been able to determine accurately how chess pies came about their name, but the colorful explanations make for great table conversation.
Some say gentlemen were served this chocolate pie as they retreated to a room to play chess. Others will insist the name was derived from Southerners’ dialect: It’s jes’ pie (it’s just pie). Yet another story suggests that because of the high sugar content and the fact that it kept well in pie chests at room temperature that it became known as “chest pie’ and with the addition of a Southern drawl the name became slurred into chess pie. The Lemon version has a story all it’s own; maybe I need to share that one some day soon? The version for the ending. Never. I promise. 🙂
This is a fun month…be sure to check out all of the links from my friends after the recipe.
Minny's Chocolate Chess Pie Recipe from 'The Help'
- 1 packaged pie dough crust (I like Pillsbury)
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 3 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
- 4 Tbsp butter, melted
- 2 large eggs, beaten
- 3/4 cup evaporated milk
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1/4 tsp salt
- Whipped cream, for serving
- Preheat the oven to 350°. Ease the pie crust into a 9-inch pie plate and crimp the edges decoratively. Prick the crust lightly with a fork. Line the crust with foil or parchment paper and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake for 15 minutes or until set. Remove the foil and weights and bake for about 5 minutes longer, just until the crust is dry but not browned.
- Meanwhile, in a bowl, whisk the sugar with the cocoa powder, butter, eggs, evaporated milk, vanilla, and salt until smooth.
- Pour the filling into the pie shell and bake for about 45 minutes, until the filling is set around the edges but a little jiggly in the center.
- Halfway through baking, cover the crust with strips of foil to prevent over-browning. Transfer the pie to a rack and let cool completely before cutting into wedges. Serve with whipped cream.
You can make this pie a day ahead and keep refrigerated before serving.
Dishes Inspired by Movies or TV
- Masala Omelette from “The Hundred Foot Journey” from Spice Roots
- Mexican Chicken Chile Soup (Gluten-Free) from “Tortilla Soup” from The Heritage Cook
- Double Polar Burgers with Everything from “Grease” from Pastry Chef Online
- Mrs. Patmore’s Calvados-Glazed Chicken from The Redhead Baker
- Retro Waldorf Salad for Mad Men Fans from Mother Would Know
- Chocolate Frangelico Truffles from Chocolat from That Skinny Chick Can Bake
- Minny’s Chocolate Chess Pie from ‘The Help’ from Creative Culinary (You’re Here!)
Welcome to Progressive Eats, our virtual version of a Progressive Dinner Party. Our menu this month features dishes inspired by our favorite TV shows and movies! We’ve got a great mix from appetizers to desserts! Hosting this month is Coleen from The Redhead Baker.
If you’re unfamiliar with the concept, a progressive dinner involves going from house to house, enjoying a different course at each location. With Progressive Eats, a theme is chosen each month, members share recipes suitable for a delicious meal or party, and you can hop from blog to blog to check them out.