Great Grandma Alta Nova's Chess Pie

A Thanksgiving Tradition from the Ames Family

Article by Jamie Ames

Photography by Jamie Ames

Originally published in Boise Lifestyle

My Grandma Alta Neal was well-known for her love of entertaining. The more people she could feed under her roof, the happier she was. She baked for weeks prior to every Thanksgiving. Cookies, bars and pies filled dozens of tins, Tupperware, and movie reel cans on her glass-enclosed deck. The deck became a sort of holiday "treat room" and every kid's dream! My brother and I would open each container to discover what was hidden inside. The film cans held pies of several varieties that changed from year to year. The only constant was Chess Pie. Grandma baked Great-Grandma's Chess Pie every Thanksgiving my whole life. It was a family favorite. Great Grandma Alta's recipe has been handed down for generations. I'm sure the Altas are smiling as I share it now. Happy Thanksgiving!

Prep time: 30 minutes

Baking time: 1 hour

Preheat oven to 350 F.


1/2 cup butter

1 cup sugar

3 eggs, separated

1/3 cup milk

2 teaspoons vanilla

3/4 cup chopped walnuts

1 scant cup cooked raisins*

1 pie crust

*To cook raisins, cover with water in saucepan. Bring just to a boil, drain and cool.

Cream butter and sugar. Add 3 egg yolks. Mix in milk and vanilla. Stir in nuts and cooled raisins. Pour into unbaked pie crust. Bake at 350 F for 1 hour. Cool and refrigerate. 

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