Fergus's Chestnut Tarts from Outlander novel Dragonfly in Amber by Diana Gabaldon

Fergus's Chestnut Tarts from Dragonfly in Amber

"What on earth is that?"  I peered over his shoulder, and gasped when I saw the signature at the foot of the letter.  James Stuart, by the grace of God King of England and Scotland.

"Bloody Christ!  It worked, then!"  Swinging around, I spotted Fergus, crouched on a stool in front of the fire, industriously stuffing pastries into his face.  "Good lad," I said, smiling at him.  He grinned back at me, cheeks puffed like a chipmunk's with chestnut tart.

"We got it from the papal messenger," Jamie explained, coming to the surface long enough to realize I was there.  "Fergus took it from the bag while he was eating supper in a tavern.  He'll spend the night there, so we'll have to put this back before morning.  No difficulties there, Fergus?"

The boy swallowed and shook his head.  "No, milord.  He sleeps alone -- not trusting his bedmates not to steal the contents of his bag." He grinned derisively at this.  "The second window on the left, above the stables." He waved an airy hand, the deft, grubby fingers reaching for another pie.  "It is nothing, milord."

Dragonfly in Amber, chapter 13

Fergus is in the house, and I can barely contain myself!

I like some mischief in little boys --  and so, our little would-be aristocrat, with his nose upturned and imperious disdain plain on his face, has been a favourite of mine from the start.

But somewhere along the way, the young imp grew into a handsome man with a slick of black hair and a certain je ne sais quoi that has turned my maternal affection into a full blown crush.

Let's just say I'd be happy to lend Fergus a hand any time of day or night.



As for today's food, these chestnut tarts are a seasonal, fictional and historical treat all wrapped up in a neat little almond shortcrust.  Why not set aside some of the chestnuts destined for your Thanksgiving stuffing to make a batch of these as well?

Heck, some of us may even be able to find locally grown chestnuts.  Fergus's tarts would have been made from European Chestnuts but American Chestnuts, although smaller, are known for their sweeter nut.  The only variety I could find in my little corner of the world are Europen Chestnuts grown in Korea.  Strange, but true in the often-whacky modern world of food distribution.

One last note before you scroll down to the recipe -- it's scarier than it looks -- sure it's long, but there are relatively few ingredients, and the instructions are straightforward.  Give yourself at least 3 hours to complete it from start to finish, or make the pastry the night before to split up the work.

Also check out the "New School" and "Old School" tips listed after the recipe.  They'll help you to make things easier or more authentic, whichever you prefer.

lima-lined-crust roast-chestnut-crust baked-chestnut-tart

Show/Hide Comments


10 Nov 2011 - 4:43pm

Lee Ann

Have I told you how much I love this? I do :) Did you have to get permission from Diana Gabaldon?


I'm so glad you like it Lee Ann...Diana, aka Herself, did give me her blessing to start this "little" project!

10 Nov 2011 - 5:06pm

Jinny (@tinyjinny)

Err, 'remove from eat' in first paragraph for chestnut filling. :)

10 Nov 2011 - 5:31pm

Needs Mead

Oh my. Adding to the list.


Yeah, these are really worth making -- very delicious, indeed...

10 Nov 2011 - 6:07pm


Wow - I am in awe of your awesomeness! This post just made my day. Love the blog and I'm excited to see more!


Thanks very much, Bri! Hope you`ll come back soon!

11 Nov 2011 - 2:38am

The Mom Chef …

I love living the books through the food like this. You've even got me re-reading all 7 now. They're lined up by my bedside table (too many to fit ON it). Thanks for being willing to go through these recipes for us.

11 Nov 2011 - 3:51am


These look spectacular and a dish that is super festive for the upcoming holidays. (I'm glad you warned me, though, it did look scarier than it was!)


Eliot - t he chestnut filling is delicious, even by the spoonful -- I`m glad you agree the recipe doesn`t look too hard!

11 Nov 2011 - 1:54pm


these look wonderful! I'm not a huge fan of nuts in general, but I might have to make an exception here. nn(as an aside, can you do a bread recipe? I make a sour dough but lately it's been falling flat. I'm curious to see other recipes. :-) )


Faith - how many mentions are there of fresh bread and butter across the 7 books? Yes, we will definitely be doing a loaf from time to time!

11 Nov 2011 - 2:21pm


These look sooo good. I just bought chestmuts yesterday and was only going to roast them, this recipe is a much better way to use them. Thanks I will give this a try.


Great news Suzi! Let us know how they turn out...

12 Nov 2011 - 3:13am


Oh this looks heavenly! My neighbor has a chestnut tree and we are always pulling baby chestnut trees from the grass. I should just go over and pick chestnuts - the squirrels bring them to my yard anyway. Beautiful recreation!


I was inspired by your chestnut pudding, posted only days before! I'm glad we share a love for the savoury power of the nut. ;)

24 Nov 2015 - 5:41am

Alice Watkins

Funny you said you got your chestnuts from Korea. We have 2 big chestnut trees in the front yard and never use the nuts. Two tiny old Korean ladies come every year now to harvest them and give us home made egg rolls in return.

24 Nov 2015 - 1:48pm

Anna Lapping

Therresa, I think I have bouillon cups and saucers the same pattern as that plate! I'll post a photo later today!rnI love this recipe. Sometimes Costco has bags of shelled chestnuts this time of year. I'll check it out. Sounds yummy!

25 Nov 2015 - 1:26am

Cathy Entman

What about canned/jarred chestnut puree? Don't think I've ever seen a fresh (?) Chestnut. Cathy

12 Nov 2018 - 7:20pm


I was just wondering about the amount of Almond meal called for there is a ? in the recipe. Also when roasting the chestnuts, what is the temperature of the oven supposed to be? And finally, how thin do you roll the crust out to? There is also a ? in the recipe. Thank you! Love the book !

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