We are thrilled to have Erin, from Erin’s Food Files, writing today for StyleBlueprint. Not only is Erin’s Food Files a wonderful source for great recipes, Erin’s photographs make us want to dive right into the computer to feast!

Cranberry Chess Pie

From Erin:

I’m really thrilled and honored to have the opportunity to write for StyleBlueprint. I look to it as a great source of inspiration for shopping, eating, travel, and more. When asked to contribute, I knew I wanted to write about something that would be perfect for Thanksgiving. This Cranberry Chess Pie was the first thing that popped into my head. I actually made it for the first time the day before Thanksgiving last year. Timing was only part of the reason I didn’t blog about it last year. The other reason was because it was my first attempt at homemade pie crust. And let me tell you…y’all, that was one UGLY pie. It may have been ugly, but it still tasted AMAZING.

I knew from my first bite of that pie last year I absolutely HAD to make it again in 2011 so I could blog about it. If you are from the South, I would assume you are familiar with chess pie, but I’ll give you a little more info on this southern staple, just in case. Like any food item, the recipe may vary region to region, so I apologize if the recipe I describe is different from the one you know. The chess pie I grew up enjoying was a rich, custardy dessert, with the main ingredients being butter, sugar, and eggs. When I think of chess pie I always think of the crispy crust along the top, and the rich, sweet filling in the middle. When we bought our first house in October of 2010, as a closing gift, our realtor gave us a copy of The Williams-Sonoma Baking Book. When flipping through it, this recipe stood out as one I needed to make ASAP! I love this twist on a longtime favorite.


The aroma of this pie baking adds the most amazing smell to your kitchen. It will definitely put you in the holiday mood. Way better than anything you can buy at Yankee Candle. And bonus, you get to actually eat this! The cranberries add the perfect tartness to compliment and balance the sweetness from the custard. And just like my grandmother’s chess pie, you still get the crispy, crackly crust. The cranberries will rise up to the top during baking, so when you cut into it you get a bright burst of pink & red atop a smooth, yellow filling. It’s perfect alongside a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

On this second go round of making the pie, I didn’t want to take chances with another ugly homemade crust.  I purchased store-bought refrigerated crusts, the “unroll and fill” kind.  You can make your own crust if you have more skill than I, or use whatever store brand you are comfortable with.

We took this pie to a gathering at our neighbor’s house, and everyone there really loved it and asked for the recipe. I told them they’d have to wait till it was up on StyleBlueprint! I have a feeling this pie will become a yearly tradition for me, because I really do love it that much. It would easily work for any Thanksgiving or Christmas gathering.

Cranberry Chess Pie

  • 1 rolled-out basic pie dough (recipe below)
  • 1 1/3 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup buttermilk
  • 1 tsp cider vinegar
  • 2 tsp finely grated orange zest
  • 2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries,coarsely chopped

Roll pie dough out and transfer to a 9-inch pie dish. Crimp edges and refrigerate or freeze until firm. About 30 minutes. Meanwhile, place an oven rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat oven to 375 degrees. Partially bake the pie shell. Transfer to a wire rack and cool. Leave oven on. In a bowl, whisk together the sugar, melted butter, and salt. Add the eggs one at a time, beating until smooth after each addition. Stir in the flour, then the buttermilk, vinegar, and orange zest, mixing well. Stir in the cranberries. Scrape the mixture into the partially baked pie shell. Bake the pie until the top is lightly golden brown and the filling is firm, 50-60 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely. Cut pie into wedges and serve at room temperature.

Pie Crust (recipe also from the Williams-Sonoma Baking Book)

  • 1 1/4 c. flour
  • 1 Tb. sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 c. unsalted butter
  • 3 Tb. ice cold water (may need a bit more if not coming together)

Mix together the flour, sugar and salt. Cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal with butter no larger than small peas. Add the water and mix with a fork just until the dough pulls together.

Pat into a ball and flatten into a disk. Lightly flour the work surface and rolling pin then roll out. Re-flour as needed and turn dough to keep from sticking.

Makes 1 crust.


A big thanks to Erin and check out her food inspirations at Erin’s Food Files.