French Silk Pie is a chocolate cream pie, but it’s really so much more than that.
First of all, what makes this chocolate pie “French”? Instead of using a regular pie crust, it uses a “dacquoise,” a merengue with finely chopped nuts. Really though, it’s almost like a pavlova because the meringue is so thick – a dessert worthy on its own. And instead of a boxed chocolate pudding, the chocolate cream filling is made from whipped eggs, butter, and chocolate. It is incredibly smooth, chocolatey and with an airy texture.
This particular recipe originates from the Potomac News, which I clipped from the newspaper when it first appeared in 1981. I’ve simplified the process and made a few ingredient and proportion changes over the years. Since that time, I’ve seen lots of other French Silk Pies populate the internet. One difference from mine and those that I see online is that many of them use a regular or cookie crust instead of a dacquoise. Tsk tsk, not at all French. But the biggest difference is that many recipes cook their eggs with the sugar and chocolate to pasteurize the eggs. The original recipe does not do this and uses raw eggs.
I personally believe that the sugar used in the filling binds some of the water in the eggs that lessen the amount of water for bacterial metabolism. The choice is really yours. You can pasteurize your own eggs, buy them in a carton already pasteurized, or use them raw like I do (unless, of course, you’re pregnant). Whichever route you take, please do not let this one little step detour you from this deliciousness.
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French Silk Pie
- 3 large egg whites, room temperature
- 3/4 cup (100 grams) hazelnuts, walnuts, pistachio or almonds, very finely ground
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup (100 grams) regular white sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
- pinch of kosher or sea salt (not iodized table salt) ____________________
- 1/2 cup (113 grams) unsalted butter
- 2 large eggs plus one egg yolk
- 3/4 cup (150 grams) regular white sugar
- 2 ounces chocolate, 70%, melted and cooled
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Garnish: whipped cream, shaved chocolate and or chopped nuts
Pie crust (dacquoise)
- Pre-heat oven to 275 F (135 C)
- In a food processor grind the nuts until very fine. Stop short of it becoming a paste
- In a very clean bowl, beat the egg whites until foamy then add the salt and cream of tartar
- Add the sugar to the egg whites very slowly until they achieve stiff peaks
- Gently fold in the vanilla and chopped nuts. This is your “dacquoise”
- Place the dacquoise into a 9-inch (23 cm) pie pan and form a nest using a spatula
- Bake for 1 hour, then turn the oven off and leave the pan in the oven with the door closed for 2 hours. If the dacquoise has slid down and your nest has disappeared, do not despair! Once it is fully cooled, use the bottom of a glass and very gently press the bottom down and the sides in. Just a little…
- For the filling, melt the chocolate in either a Bain Marie or in a microwave oven and let it cool. Set it aside
- Using a stand or handheld mixer, cream the butter and sugar, and mix in the cooled melted chocolate
- Add eggs one at a time beating 4-5 minutes and scraping down the bowl after each egg. This is your chocolate cream
- Scrape the chocolate cream into the dacquoise shell and refrigerate for at least 2 hours
- Cover with whipped cream and shaved chocolate and/or chopped nuts before serving