It’s a pie with southern roots, topped with a strawberry jelly and flavored with lemon and orange. This chess pie is not traditional but it’s melt in your mouth delicious. The combination of strawberry and citrus brightens the pie wonderfully.
Have you ever heard of a chess tart? I had never heard of one until deciding to make one recently. It’s known to be a southern pie with a filling that’s made up of flour, butter, sugar, eggs, and cornmeal. It’s known to be a pie developed during a time when nuts were hard to come by so this pie was created instead.
This particular recipe is not your traditional chess pie at all. We’ve added a strawberry gel and incorporated orange and lemon to brighten up the filling. Traditional chess pie is made with an acidic component like lemon but adding more orange and zest from both makes it even better.
Blind Baking the Crust
I wanted to make this recipe a little easier by substituting a homemade pie crust with a frozen store bought one. It cuts back on a lot of time and works just as well. Even though we’re not baking from scratch we still need to blind bake it.
So what exactly is a blind bake? This is where you place only the crust dough in the pie dish and bake it with pie weights or dried beans. By doing this, you’re keeping the crust from bubbling up and creating an uneven surface for the filling.
So how is a blind bake done?
You want to start by preheating your oven to 450 degrees. When you place your pie dough in the pie dish this is a good time to shape your crust into the shape you want. After that you’ll want to place parchment paper overtop of the crust and fill it with your pie weights all the way to the edges. Bake for 15 minutes.
After the 15 minutes you’ll notice your pie crust is starting to harden but not completely done. Carefully take out the weights and set them aside. Now it’s time to poke small holes in the bottom of the crust with a fork to avoid any air bubbles for the second bake. The purpose of second bake is to cook the bottom of the crust.
Once your blind baking is done you can reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees to prepare for the chess tart to bake. At this point you’ll want to cool your pie crust completely.
Making the citrus chess filling
Making the citrus chess filling is very simple. You simply add all of the ingredients to the bowl and mix well. Sounds easy right? Well there are a few ways you can mess this up. First, I recommend adding the ingredients in the order they occur on the ingredients list. Adding the flour and cornmeal to a bowl of wet ingredients may result in lumps, this can be avoided if you’re adding the liquid to the dry ingredients.
The second tip I have is to make sure your butter is cooled off a little before you add it to the bowl.
The third tip is to make sure your eggs are beaten before you add them to the consistency because it’s not quite as easy to beat eggs in a big mixture versus separate. You also want to make sure the mixture is well combined because if not, you could end up with egg cooked in part of your tart which could make for a weird quiche like tart instead of a smooth creamy mixture.
The Homemade Strawberry Gelled Topping
If you’ve never made homemade gelatin, don’t be intimidated it’s one of the easiest things to make. You’ll need two ingredients for this strawberry gel, the first one is the strawberry juice and the second is the unflavored gelatin packet.
Strawberry juice is what we use to make this pie topping. If you can’t find strawberry juice you can opt for something similar in the juice aisle. I found a delicious strawberry cranberry juice which is what I used. Get creative with this and choose what ever juice you want.
To make the gel you want to add the juice to the saucepan with the gelatin and let sit for 5 minutes. After the 5 minutes is up, increase the heat to medium until the mixture is steaming but not boiling. Stir until the gelatin has dissolved and is mixed in. Keep it at this stage for about 5 minutes before removing it from the heat. Then let cool for 20 minutes and skim off foam if needed.
After the tart is cooked and cooled, you can add the sliced strawberries and then pour the gel mixture overtop. Finally, place the tart in the refrigerator to set for about an hour.
Storing your tart
This tart has a lot of bright and fresh flavors because we’re using fresh ingredients it doesn’t keep for very long. I recommend storing the tart for up to a week in the refrigerator covered with plastic wrap or foil. This is best served cold the day after it is made. I’m excited for you to try this sweet treat.
Strawberry Citrus Chess Tart
- 1 frozen pie crust thawed
Citrus Chess Filling
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon all purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon fine yellow cornmeal
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter melted
- 1/4 cup whole buttermilk
- 1 tablespoon orange zest
- 3 tablespoons fresh orange juice
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 3 large eggs beaten
Strawberry Gelled Topping
- 1 cup strawberries sliced
- 1 1/4 cups strawberry juice
- 2 1/4 oz unflavored gelatin envelopes
Blind bake your pie crust
- Place your pie crust in the pie dish and shape the sides of the crust by placing your index finger on the crust edge pointing outward, then place your thumb and index finger of your other hand on the outside of the edge and pinch the pastry around your finger to form a v.
- Line your pie crust with parchment paper and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Make sure the weights are evenly distributed among the pie filling. Bake for around 15 minutes. Remove pie from the oven and carefully lift the parchment paper with the weights out of the pie.
- Poke holes on the bottom of the crust and return the pie crust to the oven and bake for an additional 7-8 minutes until the bottom crust is beginning to brown. Once it is done cooking remove from the oven and let cool completely
Make your citrus chess filling
- Reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees
- In a medium bowl combine all of the ingredients and whisk them together until smooth.
- Place the mixture into the pie crust and bake on the lowest rack for around 35 to 40 minutes until the filling is set and the edges are golden brown. You may pierce with a toothpick to check the done-ness
- Once it’s done cooking, chill the tart until cold for about 2 hours
Prepare the Gelled Topping
- Place the strawberry juice in a saucepan and pour over the gelatin mixture and let stand for 5 minutes. Cook over medium heat just until the mixture is steaming and the gelatin dissolves, about 5 minutes.
- Remove from heat; cool 20 minutes. Skim off foam if needed
- Gently and slowly pour the strawberry mixture over top of chilled tart until just below the edge of the crust, be careful not to overfill
- Continue to chill tart until the gel sets, about 1 hour