Chess pie is commonly considered a southern dessert, but the name has dubious origins. Some say it’s a variation of cheese (“chess”) curd pie – even though it doesn’t have any cheese curds. Others sources claim the name comes from the fact that it can be stored in a chest, rather than a refrigerator. (Which we don’t recommend.) In fact, chess pie is really just a regional form of a custard pie, with the main difference of an added few tablespoons of flour or cornmeal to the filling.

Our Beekman 1802 chess pie is flavored with orange zest and cranberries, and uses browned butter in the custard for a toastier flavor. When baked in our walnut crust, this pie might just rival apple pie for autumn perfection.

Orange Cranberry Chess Pie with Walnut Crust.

Ingredients for Crust
1.25  cup flour (plus additional 1/4 cup for rolling.)
1 stick butter
1/2 cup walnut halves
2 Tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 – 4 Tablespoons ice cold milk

Ingredients for Filling
1 Stick Butter
2 Tablespoons rosemary honey (or regular honey and 1/8 teaspoon dried rosemary)
1 cup sugar
4 eggs (3 Whole Eggs, 1 Egg Yolk)
1 cup buttermilk
2 teaspoons nutmeg
1 Tablespoon flour
2 Tablespoons corn meal
zest from 2 oranges
1 cup whole cranberries, fresh or frozen

Preheat oven to 350F

Prepare Crust: In food processor, pulse walnut halves until finely ground. Add 1 1/4 cup flour, sugar, salt and butter. Pulse until mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. Slowly add milk, one tablespoon at a time, pulsing until mixture just begins to form ball. Using hands, flatten dough ball into thick disk, wrap in plastic wrap and place in refrigerator for at least one half hour.

Prepare Filling: Brown the butter. Heat butter in saucepan until bubbles form and subside. When brown flakes have formed in the butter, immediately remove from heat. Do not not scorch the butter. Stir in rosemary honey (or dried rosemary and honey) to butter while it is hot. Let cool.

Once butter/honey is cool, pour into bowl of stand mixer. Add sugar, and beat until combined. Add 3 whole eggs plus one additional egg yolk, beating between each addition. Add buttermilk and nutmeg. Once combined, add flour and cornmeal. Finally, stir in orange zest.

Roll Crust: Remove crust from refrigerator, place on well-floured counter. Roll with floured rolling pin until circle is approx 10″-11″ in diameter. Place crust in 9″ pie dish. Crimp edges.

Pour filling mixture into pie crust. Add cranberries evenly across top of mixture. Bake for 45 minutes to one hour or until center barely “jiggles” and knife inserted into center is clean when removed. Check pie after 30 minutes. If crust is beginning to burn, cover crust with ring of aluminum foil for remainder of cooking time.

Cool to room temperature and serve.

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  • By: martiehugs

    I love anything with cranberries; so do my friends and family. This is a must for our community Thanksgiving dinner. Thank you.

  • By: Eileen Crowe

    I recently heard that the name “Chess Pie” is actually a Northerner’s mis-hearing of a Southerner’s pronunciation of “Just Pie.” It was considered nothing special, I guess, but this version sounds spectacular. Looking forward to trying it soon.

  • By: Kathie Swaim

    I made the Orange Cranberry Chess Pie for Thanksgiving and everyone loved it. A tip though, if you have large oranges use zest of only one, two made it a bit acidic.

  • By: ConnieW.

    Don’t know where the name comes from, but I always heard that chess pie was the “poor man’s pecan pie.” My mom used to make it, but not this fancy. Have never heard of with cranberries, honey, and orange zest, or walnuts in the crust. It sounds DELICIOUS and I can’t wait to try it! Thanks for all the great recipes! I am drooling!

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