Cranberry Chocolate Chess Pie

Recipe by Emily Hilliard

Chess pies are an old tradition whose name is a corruption of "cheese." A custard-filled pie that includes a bit of cornmeal for texture, this recipe is a new twist on an old idea. The tangy brightness of cranberries combines with the richness of chocolate, custard, and cornmeal for a unique dessert.

25 mins
40 to 45 mins
1 hr 5 mins
one 9" pie
Cranberry Chocolate Chess Pie


  1. Grease and flour a 9" pie pan. Roll the chilled, rested dough into a 12" to 13" circle and fit it into the pan. Trim and flute the edge, then put the lined pie pan in the refrigerator while preparing the filling.

  2. Preheat the oven to 350°F.

  3. Place the butter and chocolate in a small saucepan over low heat, stirring occasionally. Cook, stirring frequently, until melted into a smooth chocolate sauce, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from the heat and pour into a bowl.

  4. Add the sugar and cornmeal to the chocolate mixture and stir until well combined.

  5. Stir in the eggs, vanilla, salt, and orange zest. Gently fold in the cranberries.

  6. Pour the filling into the crust and level with a spatula.

  7. Place the pie on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake it for 40 to 45 minutes, until the filling is puffed and set, and the crust is golden brown.

  8. Remove the pie from the oven and cool to lukewarm, at least 30 minutes.

  9. Serve warm or at room temperature, with whipped cream and chocolate shavings, if desired.

Tips from our Bakers

  • Where does the name "chess" come from? Some food historians say it's a takeoff on "cheese," as in English cheese pies, as in American cheesecake — whose filling is of a consistency similar to chess pie. Others say chess refers to the chest in which pies used to be kept; due to the high degree of sugar, chess pies didn't need to be refrigerated (though in these days of heightened awareness of food safety, we do recommend refrigeration). One final theory holds that chess refers to the simplicity of the pie itself. "What kind of pie is that?" "Jes' pie." Chess pie.