I have a romantic history with chocolate pies. It doesn't matter if it's my grandmother's microwave chocolate pie, chocolate chess pie, chocolate pudding pie, or brownie pie. I never discriminate. However, this satiny, creamy, light-as-a-feather French silk pie may have just nudged itself to my winner's circle.
French silk pie, unlike the name suggests, is quite American. Word on the street is that it was the runner-up in the 1951 Pillsbury Bake-Off competition, but don't hold me to that. At its core, French silk pie is just a chocolate mousse consisting of eggs, cream, chocolate, sugar, and butter. (The building blocks of life!) Its title is accurate: yes, this pie really does have the texture of silk, albeit delicious silk.
This pie does have some characteristics worth mentioning.There is no cornstarch or flour thickener like in other cream pies, and it is does use raw eggs. (If this concerns you, feel free to use pasteurized, or find a recipe that cooks them at a low temperature.) Butter and sugar are beaten, melted chocolate is incorporated, and finally eggs are added and whipped into a glorious cloud. Lastly, fresh whipped cream is folded in to add even more airiness to the recipe.
Trust me, it will take a lot of will power to not crawl into the mixing bowl and pretend you are sleeping in Egyptian cotton sheets. But if you are willing to hold out, your efforts will be rewarded. After a nice long chill, the filling transforms itself into a sultry, firm dessert worthy of its "French" name.
French Silk PieServes 10-12
1 (9-inch) pie crust, cooked and cooled
4 ounces good-quality bittersweet chocolate
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon espresso powder (optional)
1 cup cold heavy cream
1 1/2 sticks (6 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
3 large organic or free-range eggs, pasteurized if desired
Additional whipped cream, for topping
Heat the chocolate in a microwave on medium power (about 45-90 seconds) or over the stovetop on medium-low until melted. Whisk in the vanilla and espresso powder, if using, and set aside to cool.
In a medium bowl beat the heavy cream with an electric mixer on high speed until stiff peaks form, 2-3 minutes. Cover and refrigerate until needed.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed for one minute. Add the sugar and continue beating until light and fluffy, about 3-5 minutes. Add the cooled chocolate to the butter-sugar mixture and beat until incorporated. Add 2 eggs and beat on medium speed for three minutes. Add the remaining egg and beat for another three minutes until the mixture is silky and smooth.
Fold the chilled whipped cream into the chocolate filling until no visible white streaks remain. Pour the filling into the prepared pie crust and smooth with an offset spatula. Refrigerate for a minimum of two hours, but preferably overnight. Decorate the pie with freshly whipped cream or dollop a spoonful onto each slice.
Related: Pie Crust: Three Recipes
(Images: Nealey Dozier)