Vinegar Pie vs. Transparent Pie: smackdown!

As I hunted for a chess pie recipe to try, I found some interesting distinctions. Some believed vinegar was a key ingredient in chess pie, but others opined that vinegar automatically made a pie a vinegar pie. I can say that adding vinegar made a pie pretty delicious . . . okay, I don’t think the vinegar made that big a difference, but it was a little bit tastier that way.

Another pie I came across during my recipe hunt was a similar pie called transparent pie. The Kentucky area claims it, so you can sometimes find transparent pie and chess pie at the same event. The biggest difference is that transparent pie is thickened with flour rather than cornmeal. It’s also purported to be a short step away from a nut-less pecan pie—but no corn syrup here.

Like chess pie, both transparent pie and vinegar pie are basic egg-based sweet custard pies. When I made my chess pie and buttermilk pie, I also made this week’s transparent and vinegar pies. In fact, I batched them—and more about how to do that next week. For the pictures in this post, the pictures on the left-hand side are vinegar pies, and the ones on the right are transparent.

Vinegar Pie vs. Transparent Pie: Smackdown!

I found my transparent pie recipe on Boonie Foodie, and my “vinegar” pie recipe is Martha Stewart’s chess pie recipe. I modified both slightly: I lowered the amounts of egg and sugar in the transparent pie to match the other pies for better comparison, taking it from the equivalent of four eggs and two cups of sugar to three eggs and one and a half cups of sugar. I tripled the vinegar in the vinegar pie—but don’t worry, the flavor didn’t carry through to the final version.

Both pies (modified) use the same amount of sugar, eggs, vanilla and butter. The transparent pie also added the flour thickener and cream. Since the vinegar pie features neither corn meal or flour, this pie is thickened solely by eggs.

As with the chess and buttermilk pies, the top of these pies had a delicious sugar crunch like a very thin meringue, and the centers are simply sweet without tasting exactly like sugar. Obviously, without the corn meal, neither of these pies were at all gritty, but surprisingly, I didn’t find them noticeably smoother than the corn meal-based pies.

Personally, of these two, I preferred the vinegar pie. It had a beautiful golden color and the butter and sugar combined for a wonderful caramel flavor. The transparent pie was also good, in a straight-up sweet way.

The winner overall, from all four pies, was the buttermilk chess pie. The notes of buttercream in its filling just edged out the caramel flavors in the vinegar pie. But really, all of these are good pies!

Vinegar Pie, Martha Stewart
Transparent Pie, Boonie Foodie
Taste:3.5 stars3 stars
Texture:3 stars2.5 stars
Easy to make:4 stars4 stars
Durability:5 stars—the crunchy meringue-like upper crust actually held up on the counter, instead of getting soft like a meringue does5 stars—same
Wow factor:2.75 stars2.5 stars

These recipes have been adapted for 5″ pie pans.

Vinegar Pie
adapted from the Martha Stewart
  • 1/4 cup plus 1.5 tsp granulated white sugar
  • 2 1/4 Tbsp liquid egg product or beaten eggs (just over half an egg)
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1/8 tsp vanilla (if you have a “pinch” measuring spoon, it’s actually 3 pinches)
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp melted butter
  • 1 unbaked 5″ pie crust
Transparent Pie
adapted from Boonie Foodie
  • 1/4 cup plus 1.5 tsp granulated white sugar
  • 2 1/4 Tbsp liquid egg product or beaten eggs (just over half an egg)
  • 1/8 tsp vanilla (if you have a “pinch” measuring spoon, it’s actually 3 pinches)
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp melted butter
  • 1 tsp flour
  • 2 1/2 Tbsp cream
  • 1 unbaked 5″ pie crust
Directions for both pies
Preheat oven to 350 F. Combine dry ingredients and wet ingredients in separate bowls, then add wet to dry. Pour into pie crust. Although most recipes will tell you to lower the temperature at about 20% of the total baking time, I left my oven on 350 and baked them for about 25 minutes. (The vinegar pie did take slightly longer.) Check your pies often—I considered them done once the top crust was fully set, and might crack but wouldn’t collapse if I tapped it.

What's your favorite kind of pie?


Just Jaime said...

Makes me wan to try both for myself!

Diana said...

Me, too! It made me very hungry. Does your family eat all of the pies you make?

Jordan McCollum said...

No. These mini pies are about 1 1/2 slices of a 9" pie, so they're pretty easy to eat (we might have thrown away 1/2 of one or two of these, but I had to eat a lot to see if I liked them ;). but when I make a full-sized pie, even if we really like it, I often end up having to throw it away. Which is the exact OPPOSITE of why pies were invented :\ .

Cindy said...

What's the link for the buttermilk chess pie? The one above didn't work...

Jordan McCollum said...

Oy. I caught the first two, but missed that one. It's fixed now!

(Long story--I originally wrote this as a guest post on another website, and suddenly one day I went to login to write another post, and the entire site had disappeared. I still had the posts in my feed reader and managed to salvage them, but that's why the link didn't work.)

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