French Silk Pie

French Silk Pie | ZoeBakes Photo by Zoë François

When I moved to Minneapolis from Vermont, I hadn’t expected to experience culture shock. I was raised mostly in New England with stints in Northern California. Somehow, those places, as far from each other as they can get on a map, are more alike than the vast land in the middle. I understood the food of the coasts, including the pie, dominated by apple and pumpkin or even lemon meringue. But, the Midwest has a pie culture all its own. I first learned of French Silk Pie in the 1990s from a local Minneapolis newspaper’s people choice award. Every year Bakers’ Square would win “best dessert” in Minneapolis with their French Silk Pie. I was painfully aware of this because I was baking my heart out at a local restaurant and despite all my efforts, I could never touch this pie’s popularity. I did finally taste one, and IMHO, it was sweet and lacking in any real chocolate flavor, but the texture was certainly worthy of the name. Out of spite (I was young and sillier then), I never served a French Silk Pie in any restaurant I worked at and honestly, this is the VERY first one I have ever baked. It comes from the beautiful new baking book, Midwest Made: Big, Bold Baking from the Heartland, by Shauna Sever. Not only did Shauna change my heart about this pie, but has taught me so much about the culture of baking in my own backyard. This pie is everything people loved about the one from Bakers’ Square, but is all about the deep chocolate flavor. Be sure to use a high quality, bitter chocolate (70-75% cacao) or the pie can get very sweet, FAST! In her book the pie is topped with a homemade Cool Whip, which is 100% in keeping with the traditional pie. I left the cream unstabilized and unsweetened, because I like the contrast of the sweet filling to the clean, rich cream on top, you choose which way to go, I offer both ways below. This recipe uses raw eggs, which doesn’t bother Shauna or me in the least, but if you are at all worried about eating raw egg, then buy pasteurized ones. 

You can watch me make Shauna’s pie in my instagram video and she graciously shared the recipe, which is below.

French Silk Pie | ZoeBakes Photo by Zoë François

French Silk Pie

by Shauna Sever’s Midwest Made: Big, Bold Baking from the Heartland

Crust: 1 single layer pie dough, here is Shauna’s Favorite Pie Crust recipe – Prepare the dough and blind bake the crust in a 9-inch, shallow pie dish. You can watch me blind bake a pie crust in my instagram highlight video.

3/4 cup (170g) unsalted butter, cool room temperature

1 cup (200g) sugar

1 tablespoon unsweetened Dutch-processed cocoa powder

1 tablespoon pure vanilla (make your own)

1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt

3 3/4 ounces (107g) bittersweet chocolate (70-75% cacao) Semisweet chocolate will be way too sweet!

3 large eggs, COLD! – these are raw, so used pasteurized if this makes you nervous

Topping: 

2 cups heavy whipping cream – Shauna, in keeping with the traditional Bakers’ Square French Silk Pie used a *homemade Cool Whip topping, that is stabilized with gelatin and has a touch of sugar. I found the pie plenty sweet, so I went with just straight, perfectly whipped cream. *if you make Shauna’s topping, you will need to double the recipe. 

Chocolate Shavings for sprinkling over the top

To make the filling: watch my instagram video to see how to prepare the filling.

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the butter, sugar, cocoa powder, vanilla, and salt. Beat on medium speed until the mixture is light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the melted chocolate and beat until blended. Add the cold eggs, one at a time and beat for about 5 MINUTES AFTER EACH EGG. 
  2. Spoon the filling into the prepared blind baked pie shell. 
  3. Whip the cream on medium speed, just to soft peaks. If you over whip the cream, it will not pipe smoothly. Whipping it slow and low, will create a cream that will hold up for hours, if not days.
  4. Cover with whipped cream. You can pile it on in a cloud or pipe it in ruffles, as I did with a large rose tip (Ateco 180 – Large Flower Petal Decorating Tip).
  5. Chill the pie for at least an hour and serve. The filling will tighten up as it chills, so the texture is just about perfect for the first several hours and then it becomes denser and loses a bit of the silkiness, but is still delicious. 

To make the chocolate shavings, scrape a bar (I use the large chocolate bars at Trader Joes) with a sharp knife. This Knife by Shun Cutlery is magically sharp, which isn’t something I can say about most of my knives. 

French Silk Pie | ZoeBakes Photo by Zoë François

After an hour in the refrigerator the pie was ready to slice and serve.

French Silk Pie | ZoeBakes Photo by Zoë François

French Silk Pie | ZoeBakes Photo by Zoë François 

Thank you Shauna for the beautiful book!