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Recipe

Malted Chess Pie

Tina Rupp

Yield: Yields one 9-inch pie

Most of the recipes out there for malted pies tend to be chocolate-heavy, chiffon-style pies. This one, based on that classic pantry-staple chess pie, lets the pure malt flavor shine through.  It would not be gilding the lily to top this with a dollop of malt-scented whipped cream, but a cup of coffee would do nicely too.

Ingredients

For the crust

  • 3/4 cup (1-1/2 sticks) unsalted European-style cultured butter
  • 1/4 cup rendered leaf lard OR 1/4 cup additional butter
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1 Tbs. apple cider vinegar (or any light colored, mild vinegar)
  • 12 oz. (approximately 3 cups) unbleached all purpose flour (chilled)
  • 1 Tbs. cornstarch
  • 2 Tbs. sugar
  • 1-1/2 tsp. fine sea salt

For the filling

  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup barley malt syrup
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/2 tsp. sea salt
  • 1/2 cup malted milk powder

For the topping (optional)

  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 Tbs. malted milk powder
  • 1/4 cup crushed malt balls

Preparation

Make the crust

  • Prepare the butter and lard, if using. Cut the butter into 1/2-inch cubes (a bench scraper is perfect for this, but a sharp knife works well too), and cut the lard into small pieces. Return them to the fridge or freezer to cool.
  • In a liquid measuring cup, stir together the milk and vinegar. Refrigerate the mixture until ready to use.
  • On a clean flat surface or in a large shallow bowl, toss the flour, cornstarch, sugar, and salt together lightly to blend. Add the butter and lard (if using) to the dry ingredients and, using  a bench scraper or pastry blender, cut the fat into the flour with speed and patience, until the fat has been reduced to small pea-sized chunks. Try to use a straight up-and-down motion, avoiding twisting your wrists, as the more you press on the flour the more tough gluten will develop in the dough. Avoid using your fingers, as the heat from your hands will melt the fat and further encourage gluten development. Unlike with pasta or bread, gluten is the enemy of pie dough, so be gentle, and be quick!
  • Once your fat has been cut down to size, spread your mixture out gently to expose as much surface area as possible. Gently drizzle about half of your milk mixture over the flour, trying to cover as wide an area as you can. Using bench scrapers or a large spoon, toss the flour over the liquid (don’t stir; just lightly toss), spread everything out again, and repeat the process with the second half of the liquid. You should now have a dough that will just hold together when pressed against the bowl, with visible little chunks of butter. If you need to add more liquid to bind it, do so with more cold milk, adding a tablespoon at a time until you reach the right texture. It’s not an exact science, as everything from the humidity in the air to the dryness of your flour will affect the consistency of your dough.
  • Once you’ve reached your goal, cover the dough tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate it for at least 1 hour.
  • Preheat the oven to 425ºF. Roll out the dough into a circle about 11 inches in diameter. Transfer it to a 9-inch tart pan or pie plate, trim the overhang to about 1 inch, tuck the overhang under, and crimp decoratively. Return the crust to the fridge (or better yet, the freezer) for at least 15 minutes.
  • Prick the bottom of the crust all over with a fork (this helps prevent it from shrinking). Line the dough with foil, making sure it is pressed down tightly into the bottom corners and against the sides, and roll the extra foil over the crimped edge of your fork to shield it. Fill the cavity with weights that will not burn in the heat of the oven. Be sure to use enough weights to fill the pie cavity up to the top.
  • Bake for 20 minutes, rotating the pan once halfway through. Remove it from the oven, let it sit for a minute, and then carefully lift the weight-filled foil out of the crust, setting it aside to cool. Lower the oven to 350ºF.

Make the filling

  • In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter, sugar, and syrup until fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Whisk in the salt and the malt powder until they are fully blended. Put the pie crust on a baking sheet. Pour the filling in to the crust and bake it for 30 to 40 minutes, until the filling has just set and is still slightly wobbly in the center. Remove the pie to a wire rack to cool completely, at least 1 hour.

Make the topping (if using)

  • In a stand mixer, with a hand mixer, or by hand with a whisk, whip the cream with the remaining malt powder until stiff peaks form. Dollop the whipped cream on top of the cooled pie. Sprinkle the crushed malt balls on top and serve.

Make Ahead Tips

The dough can be kept in the fridge for up to 1 week, well wrapped, or in the freezer for up to 2 months.

The pie can be made ahead, without the topping, and refrigerated for up to 1 week, covered in plastic wrap. Add the topping (if using) just before serving.

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