Food & Drink

Smoky Maple Chess Pie

The Atlanta bakers Chris Taylor and Paul Arguin’s new recipe reinvents a classic

Chris Taylor and Paul Arguin wrote the book on pie—literally. The Atlanta-based scientists-turned-bakers’ 2019 cookbook The New Pie: Modern Techniques for the Classic American Dessert spins traditional Southern desserts into innovative iterations such as a Thanksgiving pumpkin pie topped with pecan pie gravy and a strawberry margarita pie. 

Two years after the publication of their book, the duo hasn’t slowed down. This chess pie, shared exclusively with Garden & Gun, is a showstopper. Taking the flavor combination from a cookie recipe (the couple is working on their next book, which focuses on cookies, due out next spring), they tweaked and tasted until hitting the right note. “The combination of maple and chipotle peppers is an unexpected blend, but they really do work so well together,” Arguin says. “The peppers are not fiery hot—more like smoking embers providing just a late tingle on the tongue after the warm flavors of brown butter and maple in this rich corn custard.” 

After finalizing the pie recipe to share with us, the couple cut into a slice. “We forgot how good it was,” Arguin says. “To be honest, we had a brief discussion about quickly making a different pie and saving this recipe for a competition. But we’re happy to share with you the pie that could have been used to win our second National Pie Championship!” 


  • Smoky Maple Chess Pie (Yield: One 9-inch pie)

    • 1 9-inch pie crust, blind-baked and cooled (see Note)

    • 6 tbsp. (85 grams) unsalted butter

    • 6 tbsp. (65 grams) coarsely ground cornmeal

    • 1½ cups (348 grams) heavy cream

    • ¼ tsp. salt

    • ½ cup (100 grams) light brown sugar, firmly packed

    • ¼ cup (80 grams) maple syrup

    • ½ tsp. chipotle chili powder

    • 3 large eggs, lightly beaten in a large bowl

    • Confectioners’ sugar for sprinkling, optional


  1. Preheat the oven to 275°F. Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Continue to cook, swirling the pan occasionally, until the butter has browned and has a nutty aroma, about 5 minutes. Slide the pan off the heat and whisk in the cornmeal, heavy cream, and salt.

  2. Place the pan back on the heat and cook until the mixture begins to bubble all over, whisking occasionally. Lower the heat to maintain a simmer, and whisk gently but continuously for about 5 minutes, making sure that the mixture is not sticking to the pan. Stop when the cornmeal has absorbed most of the liquid and the thickened cornmeal is spinning around in the pan with your whisk.  

  3. Off the heat, whisk in the brown sugar, maple syrup, and chipotle powder. Pour 1 to 2 tablespoons of the hot mixture into the beaten eggs and whisk quickly to prevent the eggs from cooking. Slowly pour the remainder of the hot mixture into the eggs, whisking continuously. Use a silicone spatula to make sure you get all of the mixture out of the saucepan.

  4. Pour the filling into the cooled blind-baked pie crust. Bake the pie on the middle rack of the oven until the filling is set and the center of the filling jiggles slightly when it is jostled, about 45 minutes. If the crust begins to brown too much, cover it with a ring of aluminum foil. Cool the pie to room temperature on a wire rack, about 3 hours, before chilling completely in the refrigerator, at least 4 hours or overnight. Sprinkle confectioners’ sugar over the pie before serving, if desired.

  5. Note: To blind-bake a crust, line a 9-inch pie plate with your favorite pie dough recipe and crimp the crust. Chill the pie while you preheat the oven to 350°F. Line the chilled pie crust with aluminum foil and add enough pie weights, uncooked rice, or dry beans to nearly fill the pan. Bake for 45 minutes. Remove the weights and foil and continue baking the pie crust until it is light golden brown all over, 5 to 10 minutes more.

Recipe from Chris Taylor and Paul Arguin, authors of The New Pie: Modern Techniques for the Classic American Dessert. Check them out @FlourSugarButter on Instagram and Facebook.