Brown Butter Pumpkin Chess Tart is a combination of traditional southern chess pie and pumpkin pie with the added flavor bonus of browned butter. It’s baked in a cool tart pan and always turns out looking fabulous.
We included no fewer than seven variations of chess pie in the latest Jack Daniel’s cookbook and there are probably a quite few more up my sleeve, like this Brown Butter Pumpkin Chess Tart, my take on an old Martha White recipe. I’ve become especially fond of tarts because I like their flatness and the convenient two-piece pan that makes removal, cutting, and serving so easy. Tarts always look so neat and tidy and serving small slivers makes the dessert seem even more special. Sometimes you just don’t want a mile-high pie.
Chess pie is simply a buttery/egg/sugar concoction with a little texture provided by cornmeal. It’s the ultimate cheap ingredient pie made by generations of southerners. Browning the butter adds a new depth of flavor that would be terrific in a plain chess (I’ll have to get to that variation and report back) and it works great with pumpkin. The pumpkin chess mix is eggier and not quite as pumpkiny as your usual pumpkin pie. The texture provided by the cornmeal mix is pleasant, not gritty. Even better, you can make it with cooked and mashed sweet potatoes or other cooked winter squash puree.
- Pastry crust for one 10-inch tart
- 1 1/4 cups sugar
- 5 tablespoons butter, melted and browned over medium heat in a skillet and cooled
- 2 tablespoons self-rising cornmeal mix or finely ground cornmeal
- 3 eggs
- 1/4 cup sour cream or buttermilk
- 1 cup pumpkin puree
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon cloves
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- Whipped cream
- Heat the oven to 350 F.
- Roll out the pastry and fit into the tart pan.
- Combine all the remaining ingredients in a mixing bowl and blend well until smooth.
- Pour into the tart shell.
- Bake 45 minutes, or until set.
- Cool on a wire rack.
- Serve at room temperature with whipped cream.
- Substitute 1 cup mashed sweet potatoes or other winter squash for the pumpkin. Of course, serve with whipped cream!