Classic Dessert Recipe: French Silk Pie

updated May 2, 2019
Valentine's Day
French Silk Pie
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(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

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.

(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

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.

Tester’s Note

The fluffy, light texture of the filling in this pie really does remind me of silk, and it’s such a showstopper too. Based on comments from those who have made this pie, the vanilla is now beaten into the butter and sugar rather than the chocolate so that there’s no risk of the chocolate seizing up. Make sure to whip up plenty of extra whipped cream for topping!

Christine, January 2019

French Silk Pie

Prep time 3 hours

Serves 10 to 12

Nutritional Info


  • 4 ounces

    good-quality bittersweet chocolate

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    espresso powder (optional)

  • 1 cup

    cold heavy cream

  • 1 1/2

    sticks unsalted butter (6 ounces), at room temperature

  • 1 cup

    granulated sugar

  • 1 teaspoon

    vanilla extract

  • 3

    large organic or free-range eggs, pasteurized if desired

  • 1

    (9-inch) pie crust, baked and cooled

  • Whipped cream, for serving

  • Chocolate shavings, for garnish (optional)


  1. Melt the chocolate in a microwave on medium power (about 45 to 90 seconds) or on the stovetop over medium-low heat. Whisk in the espresso powder, if using, and set aside to cool to room temperature, about 20 minutes.

  2. Whip the cream in a medium bowl with an electric mixer on high speed until stiff peaks form, 2 to 3 minutes. Cover and refrigerate.

  3. Place the butter In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. (Alternatively, use an electric hand mixer and large bowl.) Beat on medium speed for 1 minute. Add the sugar and continue beating until light and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes more. Add the vanilla and cooled chocolate and beat until incorporated, about 1 minute. Add 2 of the eggs and beat on medium speed for 3 minutes. Add the remaining egg and beat until the mixture is silky and smooth, about 3 minutes more.

  4. Add the whipped cream to the chocolate filling and fold with a rubber spatula by hand until no visible white streaks remain. Transfer the filling to the prepared pie crust and smooth into an even layer with an offset spatula. Refrigerate for a minimum of 2 hours, but preferably overnight. Decorate the pie with freshly whipped cream or dollop a spoonful onto each slice, and decorate with chocolate shavings if desired.

Recipe Notes

Storage: Lightly cover leftovers with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 1 day.

(Images: Nealey Dozier)