photograph by Charles Harris

NC Pie Series: What comes at the end is always remembered: the goodnight kiss, the famous last words, the three-point shot at the buzzer, the homemade pie following a fine meal. What’s a plate of flounder in Calabash or oysters on the Outer Banks without a slice of lemon meringue, served on a Styrofoam plate with a plastic fork? Can you imagine a rib eye at the Angus Barn in Raleigh without the grand finale — that famous chocolate chess, drizzled with syrup, dolloped with whipped cream? What of the perfectly fried chicken at Mama Dip’s in Chapel Hill, culminating with a slice of sweet potato or pecan? Sure, we love our cakes, cobblers, and banana puddings, but pie provides the sweetest memories. 

When Van Eure’s father, Thad, passed away suddenly in 1988, she dropped everything to run the family business, the famed Angus Barn in Raleigh. The place seats almost 1,000 people, who flock there for juicy grilled steaks and chocolate chess pie. Van’s mother, Alice, developed the pie recipe in the late ’60s with the help of waitress Betty Shuggart, who worked at Angus Barn for more than 50 years. Now, the restaurant makes at least 100 chocolate chess pies per day, and serves them warm with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream. You can also buy one to take home, or ship a pie anywhere in the country.

Van herself doesn’t eat them, not anymore. She still remembers a six-week stint helping out in the kitchen. Thad noticed that something was off with the pies — they were missing their signature crackly, crusty top. Van had to figure out why. “Every day, I took one to his office and we’d taste it,” she remembers. Again, again, again! One of the tricks, it turned out, was how long you left the pie in the oven to cool. “Finally,” she says, “we got it perfect.”

Angus Barn
9401 Glenwood Avenue
Raleigh, NC 27617
(919) 781-2444

Angus Barn’s Chocolate Chess Pie

Yield: 8 servings.

1 unbaked pie shell
1 stick of butter
2 (1 ounce) bakers semi-sweet chocolate baking squares
1 cup sugar
2 eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 dash salt

Melt butter and chocolate.

Mix with other ingredients which have been blended together.

Pour into a pie shell and bake 35 minutes (no longer) at 350º.

Top with whipped cream.

North Carolina Pie Series: Vinegar Pie


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Emma Laperruque works as a food writer and recipe developer at Food 52 in New York City.