Vegan chocolate chess pie - This delicious vegan version of the traditional American pie is easy to make, rich, sweet and chocolatey.
With a crisp pastry base and smooth, fudgy chocolate filling, this pie is perfect for celebrations! Eggless and dairy free.
This vegan chocolate chess pie is a great dessert for celebrations such as Thanksgiving. It is wonderfully rich and chocolatey, with a fudgy textured filling and crisp pastry.
Served cold, it has a rich, ganache/truffle like texture. At room temperature it is softer, more like a fudgy pudding texture. I think both ways are great!
It can also easily be made in advance, saving you time on the day!
What Is Chess Pie?:
Chess pie is something of a catch-all name for a variety of baked custard pies.
They originated in England, but are most popular in the American south. The origins of the name 'chess pie' are somewhat debated.
Some belive that the pies are so named because they were stored in a 'pie chest', or that 'chess' is derived from 'cheese pie'; as early cookbooks lumped cheesecakes and custard pies together.
Alternatively, it could be a misinterpretation of the Southern American pronounciation of "it's just pie" ("jes' pie"), or even that early recipes were made using chestnut flour.
Wherever the name came from, chess pies are delicious, and very simple to make!
Chocolate chess pie filling is traditionally made using a few basic staple ingredients - sugar, cocoa powder, eggs, evaporated milk and butter. It is easy to make vegan with a few substitutions. You won't get quite the same crisp top crust without the eggs, but it is a great pie nonetheless.
Traditional recipes contain a lot of sugar, so I reduced the amount of sugar in the filling, omitted the sugar from the pastry, upped the cocoa powder and added some instant espresso powder to help tone down the sweetness. This is still a sweet pie however, but not overly so. It is fantastic served with vegan cream to cut through the sweetness
What Do I Need To Make Vegan Chocolate Chess Pie?:
Cornflour (cornstarch): Chess pies are generally set with eggs, to make this vegan version I simply swapped the eggs for cornflour to set the filling. You could use arrowroot instead but I think that cornflour gives the best texture.
Evaporated coconut milk: Instead of the usual evaporated milk I just used evaporated coconut milk which is available online. If you can't get hold of this then you can just use a mixture of full fat tinned coconut milk and non-dairy drinking milk, such as soy.
Cocoa powder: I use dutch processed (just regular cocoa powder to those of you in the UK) but natural is ok too.
Brown sugar: Light brown soft sugar adds extra depth of flavour, but caster or granulated will work too.
Vegan butter: It is important to use a block butter/margarine, not the spreadable kind in a tub. Especially for the pastry. I use Naturli Vegan Block or Flora Plant Butter.
Espresso powder: Adding a bit of instant espresso powder to the filling helps to amp up the chocolate flavour. You can't really taste it but if you wanted a mocha pie then you could certainly add more to taste!
Vanilla extract: Extract is always better than essence (extract is natural flavouring whereas essence is artificial); you could also use vanilla bean paste.
Plain flour: Just plain (all-purpose) flour is best.
Vodka: Vodka is my (not-so) secret trick for crispy pastry. Because it has a lower water percentage than well, water; using a bit of vodka rather than water to bind the pastry makes for crispier pastry as the alcohol burns off when it cooks.
You can't taste it at all and you can absolutely use water instead if you prefer, but if you happen to have a bottle of vodka lurking in the cupboard I urge you to give it a try!
How To Make Vegan Chocolate Chess Pie:
(Full measurements and instructions can be found in the recipe card at the bottom of the page)
Start by making the pastry. Place the plain flour and salt in a large bowl and whisk to mix.
Add the cold diced vegan block butter and rub it in using your fingers until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs and no lumps of fat remain.
Add a tablespoon of cold vodka and mix; drizzle in a little cold water as needed to bring the pastry together into a ball.
Cover the pastry and pop it in the fridge for half an hour until it has firmed up a bit.
Once the pastry has chilled, roll it out thinly on a floured surface until it is large enough to line a 23cm/9 inch round pie dish.
Gently transfer the pastry to the dish and press it right into the corners and over the rim. Trim off the excess pastry and crimp the edge.
Place the pastry base in the freezer for twenty minutes while you preheat the oven.
When the pastry is nice and cold, line it with tin foil then fill it with baking beans or dried rice.
Bake for 20 minutes then remove the tin foil and rice/beans and return the pie shell to the oven for 10 minutes, until it is pale golden.
To make the filling, place the cornstarch in a bowl and gradually whisk in the evaporated coconut milk.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the cocoa powder and melted butter until smooth.
Whisk in the sugar, vanilla, espresso powder, evaporated milk mixture and a pinch of salt. Pour the mixture into the baked pie shell.
Bake for about 45 minutes until the filling is set but still jiggles a bit if you shake the dish.
All of my recipes are developed using grams, and as with all of my baking recipes I really do recommend using the metric measurements with a digital scale rather than the cup coversions. Cups are a wildly inaccurate measuring system and you will get far better, more consistent results using a scale, not to mention that it is also easier and less messy than cups!
It is important to chill the pastry before rolling it out, otherwise it will be too soft and you will struggle to roll it.
For the best, crispy pastry, make sure that you don’t overwork it or let it get too warm. Freezing the tart shell prior to blind baking it helps to make the pastry crisp and stops it from shrinking too much.
The pastry can be made in advance and stored (well wrapped) in the fridge for up to 2 days. If it becomes too firm to roll out let it sit out at room temperature for ½ an hour before rolling.
If you want to save time you can use shop bought shortcrust pastry instead. Many are vegan friendly - Jus Roll pastry is vegan (apart from the 'all-butter' one).
The filling will puff up as it bakes and then fall as it cools, this is normal.
The filling has a fudgy, almost ganache-like consistency. If you prefer a softer set, reduce the cornflour to 40g.
For an even richer filling you can add 60g of melted dark chocolate. In this case I recommend reducing the cornflour to 40g and the sugar to 200g.
Make-Ahead And Storage Instructions:
This vegan chocolate chess pie keeps well in the fridge for about 4 days so can happily be made in advance.
I like it best served at room temperature, so get it out of the fridge about half an hour before serving.
It also freezes well (though I would recommend freezing leftovers rather than making and freezing the pie in advance of serving). Allow to cool completely, then freeze in a freezer-proof container. Allow to defrost in the fridge before serving.
More Vegan Pie Recipes:
- Vegan pecan pie
- Vegan pumpkin pie
- Vegan key lime pie
- Ginger apple pie
- Vegan peanut butter chocolate pie
- Blueberry pie with coconut oil crust
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Vegan Chocolate Chess Pie
- 250 g (2 cups) plain (all-purpose) flour
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 150 g (⅔ cup) vegan block butter cold and diced
- 1 Tablespoon cold vodka (optional)
- cold water as needed
- 50 g (5 Tablespoons) cornflour (cornstarch)
- 250 ml (1 cup) evaporated coconut milk* (see notes)
- 80 g (⅓ cup) vegan block butter melted
- 55 g (½ cup + 2 Tablespoons) cocoa powder
- 225 g (1 + ⅛ cup) light brown soft sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon instant espresso powder (optional)
- pinch salt
- Start by making the pastry. Place the plain flour and salt in a large bowl and whisk to mix or place them in a food processor and pulse until combined.
- Add the cold diced vegan block butter and rub it in using your fingers or blend with the food processor until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs and no lumps of fat remain.
- Add the cold vodka (if using) and mix to combine. Gradually add enough cold water to bring the pastry together into a ball. Shape the pastry into a disc (don't knead it), wrap and refrigerate for about an hour until firm enough to roll out.
- Once the pastry has chilled, roll it out thinly on a floured surface until it is large enough to line a 23cm/9 inch round pie dish.
- Gently transfer the pastry to the dish and press it right into the corners and over the rim. Trim off the excess pastry and crimp the edge.
- Place the pastry base in the freezer for twenty minutes while you preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C fan/350°F/gas mark 4.
- Line the pastry case with baking parchment or tin foil, pressing it right into the corners, then fill with baking beans or dried rice, making sure that the sides are propped up.
- Bake for 20 minutes then remove the tin foil and baking beans and return the tart shell to the oven for a further 10 minutes until very pale golden. Remove from the oven and set aside.
- To make the filling, place the cornstarch in a bowl and gradually whisk in the evaporated coconut milk, making sure that there are no lumps.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together the cocoa powder and melted butter until smooth.
- Whisk in the sugar, vanilla, espresso powder, evaporated milk mixture and a pinch of salt until the mixture is completely smooth.
- Pour the mixture into the pie shell and bake for about 45-50 minutes until the filling is set but still jiggles slightly if you shake the dish.
- Switch off the oven and crack open the door. Leave the pie to cool in the oven for 30 minutes then allow to cool completely at room temperature before refrigerating.
- *Instead of the evaporated coconut milk you can use 160ml (⅔ cup) of full fat coconut milk plus 90ml (6 Tablespoons) of unsweetened non-dairy drinking milk (such as soy).
- See post above for tips, details and step-by-step photos.
- All of my recipes are developed using grams, and as with all of my baking recipes I really do recommend using the metric measurements with a digital scale rather than the cup coversions. Cups are a wildly inaccurate measuring system and you will get far better, more consistent results using a scale, not to mention that it is also easier and less messy than cups!