Southern Snacks Cookbook

The Southern Sympathy Cookbook

I'm P.C., and I have studied food and cooking around the world, mostly by eating, but also through serious study. Coursework at Le Cordon Bleu London and intensive courses in Morocco, Thailand and France have broadened my culinary skill and palate. But my kitchen of choice is at home, cooking like most people, experimenting with unique but practical ideas.

I live, mostly in my kitchen, in my hometown of Memphis, Tennessee.

Salted Honey Chess Pie

Salted Honey Chess Pie

I have been on a quest for some time now to create a dessert that really tastes of honey. I make amny desserts that have honey as a sweetener, but the rich, earthy taste of honey is often masked by other ingredients. I mastered the honey flavored cake with my  Honey Raspberry Cake, but then I tasted this amazing, almost creamy, honey tart at an afternoon tea in London. It was just one of several pastries on the lovely display. At first I thought it might just be whipped honey in a pastry case, but the server assured me it was a baked tart, but she had no recipe to give. When I returned to my kitchen, I googled around and found a number or English and Welsh honey tart recipes and got to work. But none of them had the potent hit of honey I was looking for. I experimented until I came on what I wanted – basically circling back to home to make a pie that tastes of honey with the texture of a classic chess. And I must say, I even impressed myself with this one.

With all things honey related, I use a locally sourced honey for purity of flavor. And there are lots of local sources of honey at farmers markets and local groceries. This pie is rich with honey, and I felt kind of genius when I added a dose of sea salt to cut through the sweetness and highlight the complexities of the honey. I love sprinkling the top with big flakes of sea salt, like Falk brand, but any flaky salt will do. I think this is best all on its own, but you could certainly add a dollop of unsweetened whipped cream. Anything else will be too sweet and disrupt the beautiful salt-sweet balance.

I make my own pie crust – usually – but am not averse to using the ready-made rolls of crust. A removeable bottom tin works best here, but I sometimes fit the crust into a springform pan for an elegant straight sided look.

Salted Honey Chess Pie

For the crust:

1 ¼ cup all-purpose flour

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon sugar

8 Tablespoons (1 stick) cold butter, cut into small pieces

2 to 4 Tablespoons ice water

For the Filling:

½ cup (1 stick) butter, melted

¾ cup honey

¾ cup light brown sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

4 eggs

3 Tablespoons cornmeal

2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon sea salt

1/3 cup heavy cream

3 Tablespoons lemon juice

Flaky salt for sprinkling

Preheat the oven to 350°.

Place the flour, salt and sugar in the bowl of a food processor and pulse a few times to mix.  Drop in the small pieces of cold butter and pulse several times until the mixture is crumbly, but some minute pieces of butter are still visible.  Sprinkle the water over, a tablespoon at a time, and pulse to combine.  When the pastry just comes together, dump the dough onto a lightly floured surface and pat into a disk about ¾ inch thick. Wrap the disk in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour before rolling.

When ready to roll, place the disk on a lightly floured surface and using a floured rolling pin, roll out the pastry to a round about 14 inches in diameter, to fit a nine inch removable bottom tart pan.  Carefully drape the pastry over the rolling pin and transfer to the pie dish.  Gently fit into the bottom and sides of the dish.  Trim any overhanging pastry. Line the crust with parchment paper, then fill the paper with baking weights or dried beans. Bake for 15 minutes until then remove from the oven, cool and remove the paper and weights.

For the Pie:

Preheat the oven to 375°.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, honey and brown sugar until pale and shiny, about 3 minutes. Beat in the vanilla, cornmeal, flour and salt, scraping the sides of the bowl as necessary, until thoroughly combined. Beat in the cream and lemon juice, scraping the bowl, until incorporated and smooth. Pour the filling into the prepared crust and bake for 35 – 40 minutes, until the filling is puffed and golden brown and not jiggly in the center. Cool completely, then chill, covered, in the fridge until firm, up to one day. Sprinkle the top with flaky sea salt before serving.

I find it easiest to slice the pie right out of the fridge, but best served with the chill off.

Serves 6

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