Cranberry Chess Tart

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Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 65 minutes
Servings: 8

With its simple custardy buttermilk filling, chess pie is a classic dessert of the American South. This updated version is baked in a square tart pan and includes sweet-tart cranberries and orange zest, giving it a festive twist for the winter holiday table.


  • 1 batch Basic Tart Dough
  • 1 1/3 cups (11 oz./345 g) sugar
  • 8 Tbs. (1 stick) (4 oz./125 g) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/8 tsp. kosher salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/4 cup (1 1/2 oz./45 g) all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup (3 fl. oz./80 ml) buttermilk
  • 1 tsp. cider vinegar
  • 2 tsp. finely grated orange zest
  • 2 cups (8 oz./250 g) fresh or frozen cranberries, coarsely


On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the dough into a round about 12 inches (30 cm) in diameter and about 1/8 inch (3 mm) thick. Line a 10-inch (25-cm) square or round tart pan with the dough. Trim the edge, leaving a 3/4-inch (2-cm) overhang. Fold the overhang over onto itself and pinch to create a double-thick edge. Refrigerate or freeze the dough until firm, about 30 minutes.

Preheat an oven to 400°F (200°C).

Line the tart shell with foil and fill with weights. Bake until the crust starts to look dry, about 15 minutes. Remove the foil and weights and continue baking until lightly golden, about 5 minutes more. Let cool completely.

In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar, butter and salt. Add the eggs one at a time, whisking after each addition until smooth. Stir in the flour, then stir in the buttermilk, vinegar and orange zest, mixing well. Stir in the cranberries. Pour the mixture into the tart shell, spreading it evenly.

Bake the tart until the top is lightly golden brown and domed and the filling is firm, about 45 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let the tart cool completely. Serve at room temperature. Serves 8.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Dessert of the Day, by Kim Laidlaw (Weldon Owen, 2013).

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