I’ve had french silk pies before, but I’ve never had one like this. The concept of a french silk pie is that it is a chocolate mousse set up in a pie crust, the smooth texture of the mousse providing the “silk” part of the pie. Most pies that are sold under this name are relatively dense and chocolaty affairs. Chocolate is the first thing you notice when you bite into a piece, not “silk,” and the texture is generally only light thanks to a generous amount of whipped cream.
This french silk pie is all about the silk. The texture is amazingly lightly, so smooth it’s almost as though you’re eating some crazy hybrid of chocolate ice cream and air because it is served cold and melts almost instantly on your tongue. Amazing is a very accurate descriptor here and, now that I’ve had this version of french silk, I don’t think I’ll ever look at the other variety in the same way again.
The recipe is another Pillsbury Bake-Off winner, a runner up (and $1,000 best-in-class winner) in the 3rd annual competition in 1951. You need a baked pie crust – I’d recommend a traditional, flaky crust over a graham cracker one simply because the crunchy graham crust will dominate the texture of the dessert – but the filling involves no cooking at all. Butter, sugar, chocolate and eggs are whipped up to an impossible lightness with an electric mixer. The chocolate flavor is not intense, but it is lovely, and you can always garnish the pie with shavings of chocolate if you want to boost the flavor for serving.
Make sure all your ingredients, especially the eggs, are at room temperature before beginning to ensure you get maximum volume. This recipe does contain raw eggs, so if you’re uncomfortable with that, either try using pasteurized eggs or try another recipe. If you decide to give it a go, I guarantee that you won’t regret a single bite of it.
French Silk Pie
1 9-in. pie crust, baked and cooled
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
1-oz semisweet or bittersweet (60% cacao) chocolate, melted and cooled
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs, room temperature
In a large mixing bowl (or the bowl of an electric mixer), cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in chocolate and vanilla extract.
Add in one egg and beat at medium speed for 5 minutes (I prefer the paddle to the whisk if you’re using an electric mixer). Scrape down sides of bowl. Add in the second egg and beat for an additional five minutes. Mixture should be very light and smooth.
Pour into pre-baked pie crust and smooth with a spatula.
Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving, until firm.
Serve cold, with whipped cream and chocolate shavings, if desired.
Makes 1 pie. Serves 8.