Lemon-Blackberry Chess Pie Bites are miniature versions of the classic Southern pie, adapted from the cookbook Marbled, Swirled and Layered by Irvin Lin. Go ahead and have more than one!
I love a dish with a good story. Most dishes do. But some have more soul than others, or maybe it’s our job as eaters to find out. Food is that cultural archive that continues to tell its tale, if we pay enough attention.
Maybe that’s why I enjoy thoughtful cookbooks that aren’t just produced just for the sake of the recipe. When you read the headnote, or the sidebar, cookbook authors give us the opportunity to go behind the dish with them, beyond the kitchen, to the inspiration behind it all.
Incidentally, that is why blogs have been more meaningful to me – when the writer bares a little of his or her soul, I feel the love behind each dish. Some of you understand that for me, buttermilk banana bread is more than a way to use ripe bananas, that arroz caldo is more than just a comforting chicken and rice soup, and that rhubarb cake is more than just my friend Liz’s grandmother’s recipe.
There’s always more.
Let’s talk pie. I did not grow up with a personal connection to pie like some of you. But I’ve always loved the nostalgia that comes from a slice. I was reading my friend Irvin Lin’s cookbook, Marbled, Swirled, and Layered: 150 Recipes and Variations for Artful Bars, Cookies, Pies, Cakes, and More, when I was drawn to the beautifully swirled chess pie in the middle of the book, just one of many gorgeous – but attainable – marbled desserts. Never mind that I love lemons. Never mind that I love blackberries. Never mind that I like pie. Do you want to know what convinced me to make it?
Chess pie. In Irvin’s words:
Various origin stories tell how the pie came to be called chess pie…Southern housewives would make pies for their husbands and kids over and over again, the common question was always, “What sort of pie is that?” Because chess pies don’t have a specific flavor, the normal reply was “It’s just pie!” which, said in a southern twang, came out as “It’s jest pie!” which, of course, became “chess pie.”
So here you go. It’s just pie. But it’s much more than that.
Disclosure: I received a copy of Irvin Lin’s Marbled, Swirled, and Layered: 150 Recipes and Variations for Artful Bars, Cookies, Pies, Cakes, and More. This post is not sponsored. All opinions are, as always, my own. There are affiliate links in this post.
Lemon-Blackberry Chess Pie Bites
Lemon-Blackberry Chess Pie Bites are miniature versions of the classic Southern pie, adapted from the cookbook Marbled, Swirled and Layered by Irvin Lin.
For the blackberry filling:
3/4 cup (3 ounces) fresh or frozen blackberries
1 1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
For the chess pie filling:
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
2 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons cornmeal
zest of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the crust:
2 packages mini fillo shells (30 shells)
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Make the blackberry filling:
In a small saucepan, mash the blackberries, sugar, cornstarch and lemon juice with the back of a wooden spoon or a masher over medium heat. Stir the mixture frequently, breaking the berries down as it cooks for about 3-5 minutes, or until the filling has thickened. Remove from the heat and cool completely.
Make the chess pie filling:
In a medium saucepan, whisk together the sugar, butter, eggs, egg yolk, heavy cream, cornmeal, lemon zest, cornstarch and vanilla extract until well combined. Place over medium heat and cook for about 7 minutes, whisking constantly, until the custard coats the back of a spoon. Set aside to cool slightly.
Assemble the pie bites:
Place the fillo shells in a miniature muffin pan or baking sheet. Place a small drop (about 1/4 teaspoon) of blackberry filling at the bottom of each shell. Spoon the chess pie filling into each shell, followed by a drizzle of the black berry filling. Swirl the blackberry into the lemon filling. Place the miniature pies into the oven and bake for about 13-15 minutes, or until the filling is set and the edges of the mini pie bites just begin to turn brown. Cool to room temperature before serving.
Adapted lightly from Lemon-Blackberry Chess Pie from Marbled, Swirled, and Layered: 150 Recipes and Variations for Artful Bars, Cookies, Pies, Cakes, and More by Irvin Lin (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016).