This is an old-fashioned Southern dessert in bar form. Because the recipe makes a lot, it would be a welcome addition to any potluck table. A delicious buttermilk custard hides beneath sweet ripe raspberries—you can make this with other berries too. Use fresh berries if you can, but frozen berries will work just fine (do not thaw them before using).
Make the Most of Peak Season Raspberries
Raspberry Chess Pie Bars
Excerpted from Cheryl Day’s Treasury of Southern Baking by Cheryl Day (Artisan Books). Copyright © 2021.
- For the brown sugar bar crust
- 4 1/2 cups (563g) unbleached all-purpose flour
- 3/4 cup (150g) packed light brown sugar
- 3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1 pound (454g) unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
- For the filling
- 1 cup (125g) unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup (45g) fine-ground yellow cornmeal
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 10 ounces (284g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 2 cups (400g) granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 8 large (400g) eggs, at room temperature
- 2 1/2 cups (592 milliliters) buttermilk
- 4 cups (480g) raspberries
- About 2 tablespoons granulated sugar for sprinkling
Preheat the oven and prepare the baking sheet:
Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C).
Lightly butter the bottom and sides of a 12-by-17-inch (30 by 43 cm) rimmed baking sheet, then line with parchment, leaving an overhang on two opposite sides of the pan.
Make and chill the crust:
In a large bowl, use your hands or a fork to combine the flour, brown sugar, and salt. Slowly drizzle in the butter and stir with a fork until the mixture looks moist and crumbly.
Using your hands, press the dough evenly over the bottom and up the sides of the baking sheet. You can decorate the edges by crimping them with a fork or leaving them rustic. Refrigerate for 15 minutes to set the crust.
Bake the crust:
Line the crust with parchment and fill with dried beans, rice, or pie weights. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, until the crust is just set and lightly browned. Remove the parchment and weights and set the crust on the wire rack to cool completely before filling.
Reduce the oven temperature to 325°F (165°C). Carefully position the rack in the lower third of the oven.
Meanwhile, make the filling:
In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, and salt. Set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or in a large mixing bowl, using a handheld mixer), cream the butter and sugar together on medium speed until superlight and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes. Beat in the vanilla. Add the eggs one (50g) at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula as necessary.
Reduce the speed to low and add the flour mixture in thirds, beating until just well blended. Slowly add the buttermilk, beating until thoroughly combined, scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl as necessary.
Pour the filling into the prepared crust. Arrange the berries on top of the filling, then sprinkle with the sugar.
Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, until the filling is golden and puffed up at the edges and the center no longer looks wet but still wobbles slightly when jiggled; it will continue to set as it cools.
Fully cool then serve:
Let cool completely on a wire rack before cutting into bars.
The bars can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
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