The story of the origin of America’s “chess pie,” as is the case with many foods, is complicated and imprecise.
But My The origin story of chess pie is simply…chocolate.
My mom started making chocolate chess pies when I was a kid — and no, it’s not the same recipe made famous at the Angus Barn steakhouse in Raleigh. And for what it’s worth, my mother’s is better.
This is probably my favorite tart, not just because it’s chocolate, but also because it’s very chocolate. It’s this rich, dark chocolate that, along with my Aunt Dot’s chocolate cake, has become the standard chocolate of my life. (I don’t like milk chocolate much and stay away from “white chocolate”, which is not a thing.)
So when I saw Chocolate Chess Pie on the Guest Flavor board at Lake Boone Trail Two Rooster’s ice cream shop this weekend, I thought there was no way it lived up to its name.
I was wrong.
I asked for a sample. It was as dark and rich and creamy as I would hope, and then there was a little bite of crispy pie crust.
This is the one, I told the scooper.
I got a kid-sized scoop (I had just pulled out a Pete Burger with coleslaw and onion rings from The Player’s Retreat, so you know, restraint), took a photo, and then I I dug. With every bite, I fell more and more in love. .
“This might be the best ice cream I’ve ever had,” I told my mother as I nibbled on it. She enjoyed her vanilla cone (don’t judge), put off the Chocolate Chess Pie ice cream by the scooper’s inaccurate (in my opinion) description of “it’s like brownie batter” (to me, it’s not so sweet).
I posted the photo and my declaration “the best ice cream I’ve ever eaten” on Instagram and Facebook – my apologies for Howling Cow’s Almond Butter Ice Cream – and a chorus of I Want Thats poured out. My photo even sparked a news story. & Observed leaving his house in the middle of the night (well, 8 p.m.) and heading to Two Roosters for a scoop. And a pint to take home.
“We knew we had to make it happen.”
I contacted Jared Plummer, owner of Two Roosters, and he told me the origin story of Chocolate Chess Pie ice cream, which started with home chef Annie Wright.
Wright submitted the idea last year as part of the Two Roosters Home Chef series, a monthly themed menu the store offers once a year. People submit flavor ideas and the Two Roosters team chooses six to make, market and display in their stores throughout the month.
When they came up with Wright’s idea, Plummer said, “we knew we had to make it happen.”
The execution is deceptively simple: “So we make all the chess pies in house, chop them up and mix them with chocolate ice cream,” Plummer said.
It’s genius. And it seems like the perfect time of year for it. However, there really is no bad time of year for it.
“I consider chocolate chess pie a Thanksgiving pie, for sure,” Plummer said. “But I also think it’s a great dessert all year round, especially when you’re going to dine at Angus Barn.” (Or at my mother’s.)
But whether it’s a seasonal or year-round dessert, the frozen version is a guest flavor, so you’ll have to hurry to get it. This will only last for the month of November.
I asked Plummer what the chances were that chocolate chess pie ice cream could be on the board all year round, and he kindly let me off the hook.
“It has a bit of a ‘cult’ feel to it now, with people asking us to bring it back all the time,” he told us. “These same people would surely ask for this flavor to be on the menu all year round. But our philosophy is a bit “theatrical” in the sense that it only lasts a window of time and when the final curtain closes, we move on to the next show.
Two roosters with flavors of November
Pro tip for chocolate lovers: If you’re going there looking for rich dark chocolate ice cream and the chocolate chess tart is out of the question, go for the Milk-free chocolate ice. It’s very dark and creamy, but made with coconut milk, which gives the Mounds Bar vibe, but without the coconut texture that some pickier eaters don’t like.
If you want it
Two Roosters Ice Cream locations:
Person Street: 215 E Franklin St. Raleigh
Boone Lake Trail: 4025 Boone Lake Trail, Raleigh
Village of Pierre Grise: 7713, chemin de la mine de lead. Raleigh
Golden belt: 800 Taylor Street, Durham
Wake Forest / The Factory: 1839 S Main St., Wake Forest
More information: tworoosters.com
Or…have a pie in an ice cream in a pie
If you want what Plummer describes as a “meta or creation type experience,” you can order a Two Roosters Chocolate Chess Pie Ice Cream Pie.
They make pies, turn the pies into ice cream, then turn that ice cream into pie. Can I once again call these people geniuses?
“It’s a delicious pie made from pie,” Plummer said.
Order: Go to the Two Roosters website (tworoosters.com) and click Order Online. Or call 919-229-0491. You can order now to pick up the pie next week, just in time for Thanksgiving.