Brown Butter Chocolate Chess Pie

makes one 9-inch pie

There are so many things to love about this pie—ease of preparation, ranking high on my list. It also is best when it has a day to rest, so I tend to make it the night before I plan on serving it. If you want to serve it the same day, make sure you leave as least 4 hours for it to cool completely, so the filling has time to set. Whatever you do, don't refrigerate it—chess pie is meant to be served at room temperature.

One Cornmeal Vinegar Pie Crust (recipe below)

1/4 cup (2 ounces) unsalted butter (directions to brown it)

1 1/2 cups (300 grams) natural cane sugar

1/4 teaspoon (1 gram) fleur de sel

1/4 cup (23 grams) dark cocoa, like Guittard or Valrhona

3 eggs

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 tablespoon (12 grams) yellow cornmeal

Fresh whipped cream, to serve (optional)

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Melt the butter over medium heat in a small, heavy-bottomed pot. Cook until it begins to brown, but not burn; it will smell nutty and fragrant. Remove from heat and let cool for 5 minutes.

Gently press pie crust into an ungreased 9-inch glass pie plate. Trim any overhang and crimp edges, using the back tines of a fork. Place pie plate in refrigerator while you prepare the filling.

Pour the melted butter, scraping any browned bits into, a deep bowl. Add the sugar and cocoa and stir with a fork until well blended. Add the eggs and vanilla. Beat, using whisk, until well mixed and it forms a thick batter. Stir in the cornmeal just until combined; pour into the prepared pie crust.

Bake 35 to 45 minutes or until the pie is set and the top puffs up and forms hard crust. Cool completely. Serve at room temperature with a dollop of whipped cream.

Cornmeal Vinegar Crust

Makes two 9-inch pie crusts

inspired by this recipe by Mollie Cox Bryan

1/3 cup (50 grams) yellow cornmeal

1 1/2 cups (200 grams) all purpose flour, plus extra for rolling out

1/2 teaspoon (4 grams) salt

1 teaspoon (6 grams) natural cane sugar

1 cup (8 ounces) very cold butter, cut into 16 pieces

1 large egg

1 1/2 teaspoons white vinegar

2 tablespoons ice cold water

Add the flours, salt and sugar to the bowl of a food processor. Pulse 1-2 times to mix well. Add the bits of butter and pulse a few times until it forms a sandy-looking mixture. Add the egg, vinegar and water. Pulse until it forms a solid ball of dough, about 8 to 10 one-second pulses.

Dump the ball of dough out onto a well-floured counter or smooth surface. Divide the dough in two equal pieces, wrapping one of them if you're only make a single-crust pie. Roll out in a circle large enough to fit your pie plate. Proceed with directions for whichever pie recipe you are using.