A strange juxtaposition is happening in our house right now. The cool, mercury glass pumpkins I snagged this fall are nestled on the mantel next to the mini cypress Christmas trees we found this weekend. The holly berry soap and the pumpkin spice hand wash are jostling for space on the bathroom sink. And we just can’t bring ourselves to toss the adorable mini gourds and pumpkins. Yep, the dregs of Thanksgiving are infringing on the fast-approaching Yuletide.
That kind of blend, as with almost everything else around here, even translated to the kitchen this Thanksgiving, but instead of mixing the two holidays, I mixed a little Turkey Day tradition with the last hint of summer.
Perhaps I was inspired by my visiting in-laws from Daytona Beach, but when I was planning out the pie selection, I wanted to include a lemon chess pie. Specifically, a Meyer lemon chess pie. Of course, the original plan was to use fruit from our own tree. Alas, we kind of forgot to feed and water the poor thing much this summer, so no crop there.
I bought some Meyer lemons, but they are just so darn good, I found myself using them on everything from drinks to salads, and oops, by Thanksgiving Day, only one lonely lemon was left rolling around the vegetable crisper.
I give thanks for procrastination, because I had a full bottle of key lime juice left in the pantry. I had been promising to make my husband a key lime pie all summer, and, well, you know how it goes.
So, why not a key lime chess pie?
I added 1/4 cup of the juice to my lazy blender recipe I’ve been using for decades, and whoa! The velvety citrus punch cut through the heavier tastes of the other pies, which included chocolate chess, pumpkin and pecan. With its crunchy top layer that forms during baking, and silky firmness, this pie even got the attention of our family’s most rabid chocolate lover.
That’s the beauty of chess pie. With a base of eggs and sugar, and little flour, it can adapt to almost any creative cook. I’m still not sure why it’s called chess pie, because several different theories have been floating around for a couple of centuries. I think the most likely one is that because of their high sugar content, with no fresh fruit, these pies would keep for quite a while in colonial cooks’ pie safes, or pie chests, and were known as chest pies. And since the colonists didn’t care much about spelling, the name eventually morphed into chess pie.
Any way you spell it, chess pie remains a favorite around here. I’ve got half a bottle of pomegranate juice in the fridge. I’m going to try that next, maybe increasing the sugar a little to offset the tartness. I’ll let you know how it turns out. Until then, try this recipe, which really is even easier than pie:
Lemon Chess Blender Pie
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
6 Tbsp. butter, softened
1/4 cup key lime juice
2 cups sugar
2 Tbsp. flour
Place all ingredients in a blender and blend at medium-high speed for one minute. Stop and scrape down the sides with a spatula, then blend another minute. Pour into a 9-inch pie crust and bake for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 250 degrees and bake another 45 minutes. Serve with whipped cream.