On Saturday, September 14, 1822, twenty-eight subscribers raised $234 “for the support of an Episcopal Minister” in Lynchburg, Virginia, which led to the foundation of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church. It was not the first church in the town of Lynchburg. That honor goes to the Methodist Church, inspired by the preaching of Bishop Francis Asbury in 1804 and erected in 1805, the same year that Virginia’s General Assembly incorporated Lynchburg as a town.
Both the town and church grew and prospered. By 1840, more than six thousand people lived in Lynchburg and in the 1850’s Lynchburg was one of the richest towns per capita in the United States. The congregation of St. Paul’s moved into a new larger church on Easter Sunday in 1851 and in 1895 into the large Romanesque building that, with modern additions, still houses the congregation.
Since the church was founded, the women of St. Paul’s have been actively involved in Lynchburg, organizing the first public school classes for needy children in 1856 and creating the Episcopal Cot Society to help provide medical care at the local hospital. They are also cooks. In 1995 to celebrate the one hundredth anniversary of their current church building, they published a cookbook, One Hundred Years of Heavenly Cooking, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, 1895-1995.
This recipe for Chocolate Chess Pie from that cookbook is a genuine southern delicacy that is easy to make and eat. If you like moist brownies, hot fudge sundaes and soft chocolate fudge, I can guarantee that you will love this pie.
1 1/2 oz. unsweetened chocolate
1 stick margarine
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
3/4 cup sugar
2 T flour
2 eggs, slightly beaten
2 T milk
1 tsp. vanilla
1 (8 inch) unbaked pie crust
Preheat the oven to 425º and put the eggs in a small bowl of warm water.
Melt the chocolate and margarine together in a saucepan over low heat. Mix the sugars and flour together. Add the dry ingredients to the chocolate mixture and stir well.
Beat the eggs lightly so the yolks and whites are mixed but not a lemon yellow. Stir the milk and vanilla into the eggs and stir these liquid ingredients into the chocolate mixture. Stir for two or three minutes until all the ingredients are thoroughly blended together.
Pour the filling into the crust. Bake the pie on a center shelf for twenty-two to twenty-six minutes until the crust that forms on the top of the filling begins to crack. Ovens vary so watch the crust.
Serve with milk, tea or coffee.
NOTES: People sometimes ask how a chess pie differs from a custard pie. As you can tell from my recipe for custard pie, eggs are mixed into milk, sugar and flavorings and are baked to create a delicate smooth custard. A chess pie always includes some flour or cornmeal besides the eggs to help set the custard. In most cases, chess pies also have more sugar in them than do custard pies. Both are delicious.
Though the original recipe calls for an eight inch pie plate, I used a nine inch, and the pie turned out just fine, if a little thinner.