Whether you know it as chocolate silk pie or French silk pie, one thing is certain: This cocoa-spiked, velvety-textured dessert is an American classic.
Yes, American—despite the inclusion of “French” in some aliases. Here’s the rough backstory: In 1951, a Maryland-based contestant by the name of Betty Cooper took home the “Best in Class” honor at Pillsbury’s third annual bake-off competition. Her contribution was something called French silk pie, and while “French” may have been a stylistic choice rather than a nod to any firm French roots, the “silk” part of the name is spot on. It spawned countless copycats and variations.
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Like the classic version, this rendition’s no-bake filling is a rich mixture of melted chocolate, butter, sugar and eggs. Whipped cream or beaten egg whites are incorporated to create the dish’s characteristic silkiness and light, mousse-like texture. This filling is poured into a crust that has been pre-baked and cooled, making this a great dessert to prepare in advance. (We used a store-bought chocolate cookie crust—there’s no shame in a shortcut!—but feel free to bake your own traditional pie crust or any other crust you please.) As if that wasn’t enough, it’s topped with a generous dollop of whipped cream.
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This pie also features an unexpected addition: espresso powder. Sometimes known as instant espresso, it’s a concentrated, finely ground product made from dark roasted coffee beans. When tucked into baked goods, the effect is subtle—but you’d certainly miss it if it wasn’t there. Espresso powder can function almost like salt, intensifying and elevating chocolate flavors. It also lends a note of bitterness that prevents the pie from tilting overly sweet and contributes a heady, espresso-tinged aroma. What’s not to like?
How to Make Chocolate Silk Pie
By Dana Beninati
- 2 cups heavy whipping cream
- ½ cup sour cream
- 1 cup plus 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 3 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 2 4-ounce bittersweet chocolate bars, finely chopped
- 4 large eggs
- ¾ cup unsalted butter, softened
- ¼ teaspoon instant espresso powder
- Kosher salt
- 1 store-bought chocolate cookie crust
Published: November 17, 2023