Despite the name, this French Silk Pie is an American classic with a rich chocolate mousse filling, buttery, flaky crust, and clouds of sweetened whipped cream garnished with chocolate curls! It's one of our favorite pies ever and it's perfect for special occasions, holidays like Thanksgiving Christmas, Easter, Pi Day, and Mother's Day, or just because!
We love creamy, cool desserts, especially when they have piles of homemade whipped cream on top. If you like this French Silk Pie recipe, you will also want to check out our Easy No-Bake Blueberry Delight, Strawberry Pretzel Icebox Pie, or our Arkansas Possum Pie, which has layers of chocolate pudding and no-bake cheesecake in a pecan crust!
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When it comes to pies, Paul prefers cream pies while I'm usually all about the fruit pies. But I will never say no to a slice of this French silk pie! It's like heaven on a plate with it's deep chocolate flavor and sweet mound of whipped cream on top.
French Silk Pie is not even French, despite the name! It was actually invented in Maryland by a Mrs. Kendall (Betty) Cooper and won the "Best in Class -- Pie" $1,000 prize in the 1951 Pillsbury Bake-Off. It's anyone's guess why Mrs. Cooper gave her pie it's tantalizing moniker. Maybe it's because of the mousse-like quality of the filling and it's silky texture.
I'm including it in my collection of Maryland-inspired recipes for my American Eats series as a nod to Mrs. Cooper and the genesis of this delicious American classic. I love my chocolate cream pie and Arkansas possum pie recipes, but this French silk pie is hands down my favorite chocolate pie of the three.
What You'll Need
This is one of those recipes where the quality of your ingredients is really important because they really determine the flavor of the end product. Quality chocolate, butter, heavy cream, and fresh eggs make this pie taste absolutely amazing.
- Chocolate: I always use Ghiradelli bittersweet or semisweet baking bars for this pie, although Baker's makes a good chocolate as well. Do not substitute chocolate chips, which won't melt nearly as well.
- Eggs: Some French Silk Pie recipes (including the original version) skip heating the eggs. But here I chose to gently cook the eggs over simmering water until they reach 160 degrees F so we don't have to worry about bacteria or finding pasteurized eggs to use.
- Sugar: There are two types of sugar in this recipe: granulated sugar that goes into the filling and powdered sugar used to sweeten the whipped cream.
- Butter: I make this recipe with salted butter, both for the pie filling as well as the crust. If you are using unsalted butter, you will want to add ½ teaspoon of salt to the filling.
- Heavy cream: The cream gets used in both the filling and for topping the pie. It whips better when the cream and the bowl it is whipped in are kept cold. You want to go for stiff peaks, which is where the whipped cream holds its shape when you remove the beaters rather than drooping over. But be careful not to overbeat or you will turn the cream into butter.
- Vanilla extract: A little vanilla extract sweetens the whipped cream and adds depth to the filling.
- Pie crust: I use my favorite pie crust recipe, which is made up of all-purpose flour, butter AND shortening for the best texture and flavor, a little sugar, salt, and ice water. I have a whole post with all my best tips and tricks for making homemade pie crust that you might want to check out, including a YouTube video where I show how you can do it in a food processor (affiliate link)!
How to Make French Silk Pie
Although there a few steps to making this pie, the results are well worth the effort! I definitely recommend making your own pie crust, although you can always buy one from the store if you are running short on time.
Make the Crust
- Cut the fat into the flour: Combine all-purpose flour, sugar, and salt in a large bowl or food processor (affiliate link). Use a pastry cutter or the food processor (affiliate link) to cut the cold butter and shortening into the flour until it is about the size of peas.
- Gradually add in the ice water: Keeping your crust cold is key to having it turn out light and flaky. Add the ice water to the flour and fat mixture, tossing it in with a fork until the dough starts to come together. Transfer the pie crust dough onto a piece of plastic wrap and squeeze it into a disc. Wrap it up and place it in the fridge for 1 hour to get nice and cold and for the moisture to redisperse throughout the crust.
- Roll out the crust: Roll out the pie crust using enough flour to keep it from sticking to the surface of the counter or the rolling pin (affiliate link). It should be slightly larger than a 9-inch pie plate (affiliate link). Roll the pie crust onto the rolling pin (affiliate link) and move it into the pie plate (affiliate link), then crimp the edges by pinching the crust together with your thumb and forefinger around another finger.
- Blind-bake the crust: Pierce the crust with a fork on the bottom and around the sides, then line with parchment paper and fill with pie weights before baking partway through for about 15 minutes at 400 degrees F.. Remove the weights and finish baking the rest of the way, another 15 minutes or so, until the crust is golden brown.
Make the Filling
- Melt the chocolate: Heat the chocolate in the microwave in 20-second bursts, stirring well between each burst of heat until the chocolate is completely melted. Set it aside to cool for a bit while working on the next part of the recipe.
- Heat the eggs: Whisk the eggs and part of the sugar in a double boiler or a heat-safe bowl that fits inside a medium saucepan. Place over simmering water and cook for about 10 minutes, whisking constantly, until the sugar has dissolved and the eggs reach 160 degrees F on an instant read thermometer. Remove from the heat and set it aside for 5-10 minutes to cool a bit. Whisk the melted chocolate into the egg mixture.
- Whip the cream: Use a hand mixer or stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment to beat the heavy cream until stiff peaks form. Set aside in the fridge.
- Combine remaining ingredients: Beat the butter and sugar together until light and creamy. Add the chocolate mixture and vanilla and beat using a hand mixer or stand mixer for 2-3 minutes until light.
- Fold in whipped cream and chill: Add the whipped cream to the chocolate mixture and use a spatula to fold it in without knocking out too much air. Pour the chocolate filling into the prepared pie crust, then cover with plastic wrap and transfer to the fridge to set up and chill for at least 3-4 hours or overnight.
- Whip the cream: Once the pie has had a chance to set up, beat the remaining cream until soft peaks form. Add in the powdered sugar and vanilla extract, then continue to beat until stiff peaks form, taking care not to overbeat the cream and turn it into butter.
- Decorate: Spread or pipe the sweetened cream on top of the pie. Top with chocolate curls or shavings before slicing and serving.
Yes, you will want to refrigerate this pie when it is not being eaten because of the dairy and eggs.
This pie freezes really well as long as you haven't already topped it with the whipped cream, so it's a great pie to make in advance if you are working on your lineup of pies for a holiday like Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, or Pi Day. Just wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and freeze for up to 3 months, then thaw in the fridge the night before you plan to serve it. Top it with freshly whipped cream and you're set!
I have never had a problem with raw eggs in recipes, but I know many people worry about them, which is why I take the extra step of heating the eggs to 160 degrees F. Other recipes call for pasteurized eggs, which are safe for consuming raw, but I think it's actually easier to use the approach in this recipe because it also helps dissolve the sugar so you don't risk a grainy texture to your chocolate silk pie.
More Pie Recipes
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French Silk Pie
- 1 ¼ cups unbleached all-purpose flour plus extra for the work surface
- 1 Tablespoon granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon table salt
- 6 Tablespoons butter cut into ¼-inch pieces and chilled
- ¼ cup vegetable shortening chilled
- 3-4 Tablespoons ice water
- 8 oz bittersweet or semi sweet chocolate chopped
- 1 cup butter softened, 2 sticks
- 1 ¼ cups granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 4 large eggs
- 2 cups heavy cream divided
- ¼ cup powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- chocolate curls
Make the Crust
- Combine flour, sugar, and salt in a large bowl. Use a pastry cutter to cut the butter and shortening into the flour until the mixture resembles peas or crumbs.
- Add the ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time, mixing with a fork until the pie crust dough is just moistened and starts to come together. Press into a disc and wrap in plastic wrap. Transfer to the fridge 1 hour to chill.
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
- Roll out the dough on a floured surface, then transfer to a 9-inch pie plate. Tuck edges under and crimp, then poke the crust all over with the tines of a fork. Line the crust with a piece of parchment paper and fill with pie weights, dried beans, rice, or sugar. Bake for 15-18 minutes, then remove pie weights and parchment paper and continue to bake for another 14-16 minutes until golden brown and fully baked. Cool completely.
Make the Filling
- Heat the chocolate in the microwave in 20-second bursts until melted. Set aside.
- Bring a medium saucepan filled partway with water to a boil. Meanwhile, whisk the eggs and ¾ cup of the sugar together in a large, heat-safe glass bowl that can nest inside of the saucepan without touching the water. Reduce the heat to a simmer and place the bowl over the water, whisking constantly to raise the temperature of the eggs to 160 degrees F on a thermometer, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and let this cool for 10 minutes.
- Add the melted chocolate to the egg mixture, whisking to combine. Cool for another 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, beat the butter and remaining ½ cup sugar together in a large bowl until creamy and light, about 2-3 minutes. Add the vanilla and chocolate mixture and mix until smooth and light, about 2-3 minutes on medium-high speed.
- Beat 1 cup of the cream in a cold bowl using a hand mixer or a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment until stiff peaks form.
- Fold the whipped cream into the chocolate mixture with a spatula, then pour into the pie crust. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for 3 to 4 hours or overnight to set up.
- Beat the remaining 1 cup of cream in a cold bowl using a hand mixer or a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment until soft peaks form. Add the powdered sugar and vanilla extract, then continue to beat until stiff peaks form.
- Pile the whipped cream on the chilled pie and top with chocolate curls before slicing and serving.
- Freezing Instructions: The crust can be made and frozen. The pie can be wrapped in plastic wrapped and frozen without the whipped cream topping for 3 months. Thaw in the fridge. Pie will keep for 1 week in the fridge.
- Chocolate: I used Ghiradelli brand bittersweet baking chocolate.
Recipe adapted from Sally's Baking Addiction.
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Reader questions and reviews
I'm assuming the 1/24th cup of shortening should be 1/4 cup?
Yes! Thank you for catching that! I fixed it in the recipe card.