Recipes Inspired by Musicals: Chess

Sunday, October 21, 2012



When I travelled in Europe in 1987, my trip ended with ten days in London. I had met my friend Ruth on a Contiki tour at the beginning of my journey, and soon found out she was a fan of live theatre, too.  She’d already been to London, and couldn’t say enough about Chess, the musical that was taking London by storm.

I wasn’t sure – there were so many great musicals playing, and I’d never even heard of Chess – but I went with her recommendation, bought a same-day half-price ticket and found myself in the theatre.  Three hours later, I came out, having been blown away by one of the most moving, clever and brilliant musicals I’ve ever seen.

The story is of an American chess master battling a Russian opponent, and the woman who is caught between them. The lyrics are very funny, the music is catchy, and the story is unforgettable.  But Chess remained a West End phenomenon.  A completely rewritten version ran for just two months on Broadway; it has never really found any success outside of London.

The music is unlike nearly any other musical I’ve seen – brilliant and brash, profound and profane.  None of the characters are standard good guys, as they all come to the tournament with some kind of emotional baggage and leave even more damaged.  And all these years later, the music is as vivid as when I walked out of the theatre in 1987.



Chess pie is a traditional southern U.S. dessert, and I hadn’t even heard about it until recently.  It’s very simple; once you’ve made the pie crust, everything else is simply stirred together and poured in.  I loved the pie almost as much as I loved the musical, and you can be sure I’ll make it again.  The best strategy to make sure you get your fair share?  Just prepare a good opening gambit, and don’t forget to protect your pieces (of pie).

Chocolate Chess Pie

1 unbaked 9” pie shell (preferably homemade)
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 heaping Tbsp cocoa powder
pinch of salt
5 ounces evaporated milk
1/4 cup butter, melted
2 eggs, beaten
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the sugar, cocoa and salt.  Add the evaporated milk, melted butter, eggs and vanilla.  Stir together until everything is completely combined.

Pour the filing into your pie shell and bake for 45 to 50 minutes.  If necessary, cover it with aluminum foil partway through to avoid getting too dark.  When the pie is finished, it will be set but still a little jiggly in the centre.

Cool the pie on a wire rack.  Serve it warm or chill for a few hours before slicing.


33 comments:

Natalie Aguirre said...

I haven't heard of Chess, but it sounds great. And what an awesome recipe. I'd have to walk a lot to eat that, but it might be worth it.

Barbara said...

Haven't made a chess pie in ages, Beth, but I've always loved it. And thought it resembled, a bit, a pecan pie without the pecans. Yum.
Confess I've never heard of the play Chess!

Lorraine said...

This looks so good! I am thinking about making it for an older couple whom I am taking dinner to tomorrow. Thanks for sharing, Beth!

Jemi Fraser said...

I've never heard of that! Must be very sweet! :)

సిరి said...

sweet temptation..

Latest-Carrot Ginger Soup

Valerie said...

I have never heard of Chess (the musical), but the storyline sounds intriguing. Isn't it wonderful to discover a hidden gem!?

This chocolate chess pie looks delicious! I love the casual simplicity of chess pies...so unlike the game itself. :D

yummychunklet said...

I love chess pie. This chocolate version looks delicious.

Bonnie said...

Beth, Chess pie was one of my mother's favorites. She made blue ribbon pecan pies, but her favorite to eat was the Chess.

The stage production "Chess" sounds interesting. It is too bad it remained unknown. Would you compare it in anyway to "A Chorus Line"?

Carol said...

I've heard of it but never saw it, don't know the music. Your chess pie looks fantastic!

Spicie Foodie said...

Great story and that pie -oh that pie!! Looks scrumptious.

The Golden Eagle said...

I've never heard of Chess, either, but it sounds like an interesting musical!

polypop said...

I've never heard of Chess, but I've just googled it. And great idea :) effect of course as well.
Marta @ What Should I Eat For Breakfast Today?

Kitchen Riffs said...

I, also, haven't heard of Chess, but it sounds really interesting. And Chess Pie is of course the obvious way to celebrate it! A classic, delicious dish. Good stuff - thanks.

Stina Lindenblatt said...

Yum!

Another person here who has never heard of Chess. :)

Lizzy Do said...

I hope there is a revival of the original Chess...I've never heard of it, but now am dying to see it! And your chess pie is perfect...and something I've never eaten, but would love to try. Have a wonderful week, Beth!

Guru Uru said...

Damn this pie my friend, I will watch it for this pie, even play the game :D

Cheers
Choc Chip Uru

Jess said...

Sounds like a great musical~ how neat that you got to see a relatively hidden gem! And, oh Beth, I NEED to stop baking and making sweets. The baby in my belly is asking for them (with my daughter, it was always salty treats) and I must cut down...it's very hard when you keep posting these delicious recipes! Got any recipes for expectant mothers? :)

Beth said...

Jess, I'll check through my files and see what I can recommend. I had a sweet tooth in both of my pregnancies - actually, pretty much my whole life!

And Bonnie, off the top I can't really compare those two shows, but you're encouraging me to watch a Chorus Line again!

bakewithjill.com said...

I've heard of chess pie but have never tried it. It sounds easy and tasty!

Joanne said...

I've never actually seen the musical, but I love the music from Chess. And I'm sure I'd love this pie. it sounds addictive!

Katerina said...

I have never heard of this musical but this pie looks absolutely divine!

Claire Davis said...

Mmm chess pie. Very much a southern staple! My grandmother used to make it a lot, her's was known for being so sweet it would "make your teeth ache". This recipe looks just right. I have not heard of the musical either but I will have to look it up! I love hearing about all the adventures you've been on!

amy (fearless homemaker) said...

That musical sounds amazing! We eat a lotta chess pie down here in Tennessee + your version looks wonderful!

Julie said...

Beautiful. I love chess pie but never make it. Maybe that's because I would eat way too much!

Cindy said...

I've always wanted to make this pie. It looks simple and delicious. I'll try it.

artofnaturalliving.com said...

I just saw a reference to "go to" Thanksgiving Pie that included Chess Pie and I had no idea what it even was. Perhaps I'll have to try one this year!

Cucina49 said...

I have always wanted to see "Chess"--I have listened to both the London and Broadway soundtrack many times, but have never had the chance to see a staged production. Lucky you!

Medeia Sharif said...

I'd love to see this musical.

The pie looks delicious. I don't think I've ever had it.

grace said...

while chocolate chess pie is delicious, obviously, i've always been more a fan of regular chess pie. sacrilege, i know. :)

Angie's Recipes said...

Don't know about this musical and I would love to watch it. Your chocolate pie looks fabulous.

Andrea_TheKitchenLioness said...

Beth, I will say that "Chess Pie" has been on my "to bake pies" list for the longest time...you make it sound worth trying and hopefully I will manage to fit this pie in my baking schedule very soon!

A Canadian Foodie said...

What a great theme, Beth - and what a tantalizing looking pie! I have heard of this and have wanted to make it and am again so inspired! YUM!
:)
V

thecompletecookbook said...

Beth, what a mouth watering pie - I have just printed your recipe and will be making it this weekend. Sadly I cannot make it today as I don't have any evaporated milk on hand.
:-) Mandy

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