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French Silk Pie

December 31, 2014

We certainly can’t. This pie looks and tastes like it took all day to make, but it’s a deceptively easy process. Of course, melted chocolate is a bit finicky and will easy scorch over direct heat, but with the amount of cream mixed in the chocolate, the chances of burning are greatly reduced. Still, use a heavy bottomed saucepan over low heat. After the egg yolks are added, the temperature can be increased to medium but the mixture must be whisked continuously.

The pastry shell is, of course, baked beforehand. But unlike many traditional prebake instructions that use pie weights, we’ll only need to dock the crust—poke small holes in it with a fork or docking tool—and then cover it with a double layer of aluminum foil. Here, like a traditional crust, we’ll bake it for a short amount of time covered and then remove the foil for the remaining baking time. This keeps the crust from browning too darkly before it’s cooked through. The bake time on this is fairly short since the shell is empty, so keep an eye on the crust for the last 4 minutes of baking to keep it from browning too darkly. The shell should have a very light brown surface with a few slightly darker spots. Unlike baked bread, pie crusts are better slightly underdone rather than slightly overdone.

If you are adept at making your own pie crusts, you’ll only need enough for one 9-inch crust. Roll the dough to an 1/8 inch thickness for this crust. Using rolling pin guides, rubber bands of varying thicknesses, will ensure you have an even thickness for your shell. Otherwise, a pre-made crust works just as well. Be sure to gently roll any creases smooth from a folded crust, or flatten out a rolled crust. It’s also important that the foil be evenly smoothed into the crust, touching everywhere. Large creases or folds will causes the crust to bake unevenly or create weak spots in the baked crust that make it difficult to serve cleanly. Using non-stick aluminum foil will ensure that the crust doesn’t stick at all.

The chocolate filling takes a couple of steps to complete with a moderate resting time to allow the mixture to come to room temperature and then later to chill to firmness in the shell. If you’re making this pie on a very warm day, consider turning the air conditioning to below 70°F while your whipping the chocolate. Any warmer and you’ll find that chocolate a bit recalcitrant for whipping. The whipped chocolate should be light brown in color and fluffy, but be careful not to overwhip as this will dry out the chocolate mixture much like overwhipped egg whites and whipped cream. Once the mixture will hold medium peaks, it’s ready to go in the shell.

Oddly enough, whipped cream is an optional topping, but in our opinion, it’s wholly necessary! We use imitation vanilla in this recipe since it’s mostly clear and won’t change the color of the whipped cream, but if you prefer to use pure vanilla extract in your whipped cream, the only difference will be a slightly brown hue in the cream. Once it’s smoothed onto the chocolate, however, no one will notice the color.

Hot days or cold, special occasions or just a treat, this pie won’t disappoint.

French Silk Pie

  • 1 9-inch pie crust
  • 6 ounces semi sweet chocolate
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 large egg yolks, lightly beaten
  • 3 tablespoons crème de cacao 

Whipped Cream Topping

  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon imitation vanilla extract 

Prepare a 9-inch single crust pastry shell, or use a pre-made shell. Ease the crust into a 9-inch pie plate. Trim the edges. Preheat the oven to 450°F. Prick the bottom of the shell using a fork. Line the shell with a double layer of non-stick aluminum foil. Bake the shell for 8 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for an additional 6-8 minutes or until it is evenly light golden brown. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack.

For the pie filling, combine the 1 cup heavy whipping cream, chocolate, butter and sugar in a heavy bottomed saucepan. Heat over low heat whisking constantly until the chocolate melts and the mixture is combined. Add a few tablespoons of the chocolate mixture to the egg yolks whisking continuously. Gradually add the egg yolk mixture into the chocolate mixture and whisk continuously. Increase heat to medium and continue heating until the mixture just begins to bubble and thicken. Remove the chocolate mixture from the heat and whisk in the liqueur. Immediately immerse the saucepan in an icebath to cool the chocolate mixture. Be very careful to keep the water out of the chocolate mixture. Cool the chocolate until it becomes thick and difficult to stir, stirring occasionally.

Using a hand mixer, whip the chocolate until it is light and fluffy. Do not overwhip. Spoon the chocolate into the pie crust. Using a spatula, smooth the chocolate evenly into the crust. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Prepare the whipped cream by whipping the heavy cream, sugar and vanilla to medium stiff peaks. Do not overwhip. Smooth the whipped cream over the chocolate using a spatula. Serve immediately. Refrigerate any leftovers for up to a day. The whipped cream will start to weep after that.

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