French Silk Pie is an American classic but barely known in the UK. A flaky pastry crust is filled with a rich & decadent no-bake chocolate mousse then topped with piles of freshly whipped cream and chocolate curls. It really is one of the best desserts I’ve ever eaten and should become a UK classic too!
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Whilst we have a few exceptions like banoffee pie, for the most part here in the UK when we think of “pie” we think of savoury options. Or the classic double crusted sweet pies like apple pie. Which for the record isn’t quite as American as they’d often like to believe. But that is a discussion for another time!
But over in America ask anyone for pie and you’re getting a sweet option. Many like lemon meringue pie or key lime pie are familiar to us here in the UK. Others like pecan pie, pumpkin pie and even sweet potato pie are being seen more and more.
But there are a whole bunch of fab sweet pie/tarts which are common in the US which are barely known here in the UK at all. When was the last time you tried Shoo Fly, Chess or Vinegar Pie? No, me neither!
But the little known pie I have tried is this French Silk Pie. Or Chocolate Silk Pie as it is sometimes known. Now I’ve tried it, I will be making it on the regular. It is truly one of the best desserts I’ve ever eaten. If you think I shared the pie in these photos, you’d be dead wrong.
What Is Traditional French Silk Pie?
French Silk Pie was invented by Betty Cooper who entered her “Ice Box” pie in the 1951 Pillsbury Bake-Off content. And won obviously!
There are three main components to the pie.
The first is a fairly substantial pastry case. I’ve developed my own recipe to make American Style Pie Pastry. It is basically a rough puff flaky pastry using great big chunks of butter and a quick layering method.
The result is flaky although not super risen like a puff pastry and it melts in the mouth. This pie requires the pastry case to be made, fully baked and then cooled before being filled. The bonus of this is you can make the pastry many days before.
I find that the tendency is for many American style pies is to use really thick pastry, Honestly it can be a little thick for my liking. So my instructions for blind baking the pie crust makes it slightly on the thinner side. It will still be more than sturdy enough to stand up for itself.
There are versions of the pie made with cookie/biscuit based bases – like a cheesecake base. But having tried both versions, I much prefer the original pastry version. The slight savoury-ness contrasts the sweet filling and cream perfectly.
The Chocolate Mousse Filling
Ok this is going to seem a little strange but bear with me. The filling starts with a fairly regular sounding creaming of butter and sugar. Melted dark chocolate and some cocoa is added for a little extra chocolate kick.
Then we start adding the eggs, again just like with a regular cake mix. Except for each egg added, the mixture is beaten for a full 5 minutes. Which is why a stand mixer or a real dedication with a electric hand whisk is needed.
And thats it!. After 4 eggs and 20 minutes, the mixture is ready to go. By this time it is light and creamy and all the sugar has dissolved so it is as smooth as … silk. See where the name comes from?!
Are Raw Eggs Safe To Eat?
Yes, stop panicking.
Unless you have a severely weakened immune system, providing eggs are stamped with the British Lion Mark or your country’s food standard equivalent, there is no reason to avoid. Feel free to check the current NHS guidance if you are still listening to Edwina Curry’s 1080s idiocy and don’t believe me.
So many of the recipes I came across had adapted the recipe to cook the eggs over a double boiler and boy, what an unnecessary palaver. There really is no need – keep it simple.
Whipped Cream and Chocolate Curls
Whipped cream is a funny one. You wouldn’t have thought that there would be an Atlantic divide on the meaning. But here in the UK we assume that it is simply double or whipping cream that has been whipped. Whereas in the US is it sweetened as standard.
I’ve added a small amount of icing sugar to the cream here. It does help to stabilise the cream and the little pop of sweetness is welcome.
The chocolate curls are optional but do make for a great topping. You could alternatively simply grate over some dark chocolate or even dust with a little cocoa.
How to Serve Chocolate Silk Pie
One of the joys of this pie is that it is all contained in the pie. There is not need to serve with cream etc. Unless of course you want to!
The pie does need chilling for a good amount of time to allow the filling to set into a delicious smooth and creamy layer. And it should be served cold rather than hot. But like the vast majority of cold served foods, it does benefit from spending 10 to 20 or so minutes out of the fridge before serving.
Whilst 10 seconds in the microwave does benefit many a dessert, this is not that occasion.
Make French Silk Pie into a Feast
I truly believe that you can make any dish into a proper feast! Whether thats a feast for one after work on a Tuesday, a casual feast for four on a Friday evening or a feast for 12 for a special occasion!
I have so many American inspired recipes to choose from, if you want to go to town and create a full ode to the US in food form, I have your back.
Don’t forget to head over to my Feast Collection pages to find all of my tips and tricks to help you host a fun and stress-free feast. Plus remember to check out my recipe index to create your own awesome Feast!
Ingredient Notes for Chocolate Silk Pie
This is one of the few times where I will insist that dark chocolate is used. The pie filling is sweet enough and the flavour of milk chocolate would simply be lost.
The cocoa powder isn’t included in many recipes that I came across. But the amount of chocolate in the recipe is just not sufficient to have the chocolate flavour come through enough. And so in my opinion it is a very sensible addition.
Just make sure that you use cocoa powder and not drinking chocolate.
Please use UK large sized eggs. I’m not often prescriptive about egg size, it doesn’t often make all that much difference. But in this case as eggs form the bulk of the substance of the filling, you do need to use large ones.
You don’t need to make the pastry or pastry case from scratch if you don’t want to. You can buy the pastry and blind bake the case yourself. Or just buy a ready made pastry case. You are looking for a 9 inch or 23cm case for the filling in this recipe.
You can use whipping cream or double cream for this recipe. But single is not suitable as it will not whip up. Do please be careful not to over whip the cream. It will thicken more as it stands. And you are looking for a cloud of cream on top, not a stiff topping.
You can make these yourself by melting dark chocolate, spreading it onto a flat tin, allowing it to cool and then scraping it up in strips. Alternatively you can use a potato peeler on the side of a chocolate bar or just grate some chocolate.
You can also buy ready made chocolate curls.
I think that one of the most interesting ways to vary this recipe would be to add in an extra layer of flavour. Probably between the pastry and chocolate filling. I’m thinking of trying a layer of fruit. Maybe strawberries or raspberries. A really good strong flavoured curd like black forest fruit would really work too.
The other main way would be to switch out the pastry case for a biscuit base like I mentioned earlier. I do think that pastry is the superior option but biscuit would still be good. I think I would err on the side of digestive/graham crackers rather than a chocolate or oreo type option.
Make it Vegetarian or Vegan
This French Silk Pie recipe is suitable for vegetarians without amendment. There is no gelatin used for the filling so this is an ideal veggie dessert.
I am really not entirely sure about making the pie suitable for vegans. It can likely be done with lots of substitutions. I’ve talked about how to make the pastry recipe vegan in that post. That mostly involves replacing the butter with a dairy free option.
But the chocolate pie filling might take some experimentation to get right. The butter can easily be replaced with a dairy free option. And vegan dark chocolate is easy to source now.
But of course the eggs are the problem area. The first place I’d start would be to try adding aquafaba (chickpea water) and whisking that into the filling. It whisks up like meringue so in theory it should work. My second attempt would involve trying a dairy-free cream alternative.
Make it Allergy Friendly
This recipe is free from nuts.
Gluten Free: The only part of the pie to contain gluten is the pastry case. I’ve detailed how to do this in the recipe. Alternatively you can use a ready made gluten free pastry to blind bake a crust.
Dairy Free: After you have made the substitutions to make the pastry dairy free (not difficult) you will just need to switch the butter and chocolate for dairy free versions. And then top it with a whipped non-dairy cream.
Coconut cream would work great although obviously that would add an extra flavour.
Egg Free: I’ve discussed above when talking about how to make the pie vegan how this might be tricky. And provided a few (untested!) suggestions to try if you are game.
Please note that this recipe may contain other allergens not referred to above and any variations suggested have not been tested unless otherwise stated. For more information regarding any dietary information provided on this website, please refer to my Nutritional Disclaimer.
Equipment Notes for American Chocolate Mousse Pie
I really hate posting recipes which need specialist equipment so I try not to. But you really want a Stand Mixer to make this recipe. You can use an Electric Hand Mixer but after 20 minutes whisking, you might regret it.
I actually didn’t own a stand mixer for many many years but since buying a cheap Kenwood model (after a few cheap vintage ones blew up on me), I have zero regrets.
I especially love it for kneading bread doughs like my easy pizza dough but on occasion, it is an godsend for something like this whipped chocolate pie filling
A comprehensive list of the equipment used to make this recipe is included in the main recipe card below. Click on any item to see an example. There are no hard and fast rules so many items can be sensibly substituted to achieve the same results.
You can make the pastry case days in advance. Just store it in an airtight container.
The chocolate filling does need some time to chill – at least 4 hours. So this does need to be made somewhat in advance whether you want to or not.
But the great news is that it sits happily in the fridge until the next day or even the day after. I would recommend lightly covering it with clingfilm lest it absorbs some other flavours from the fridge.
You can even add the whipped cream and chocolate decoration the day before. But my preference would be to add these just before serving if possible.
Leftover French Silk Pie
The pie will keep for a couple of days in the fridge without any problem. If you feel like the whipped cream isn’t looking its best, you can always scrape it off and serve with some fresh cream.
Chocolate Silk Pie Tips
I know it is tempting to think that 2 or 3 minutes whisking time per egg is sufficient. It really isn’t. The extended whisking time not only adds air to the filling but the time mixing also allows the sugar to dissolve. Don’t whip for long enough and you’ll have chocolate gritty pie and not chocolate silk pie.
Please also don’t skip the stage of scraping down the bowl with each egg addition. It would be a waste to spend the time whipping the mixture to just have a load of butter and sugar chunks stir in at the last minute.
Do be cautious when whipping the cream. It is super easy to over whip and end up with Homemade Butter. Or just grainy cream which is the mid-stage.
If you do decide to make your own chocolate curls, please be careful not to slip. If you are at all cautious, using a coarse grater instead is a good idea.
Don’t forget to let me know in the comments if you try making this recipe – I want to know what you think and if you made any substitutions, how did it turn out?
Still Have Questions?
Simple! Just contact me and I will do my best to help as quickly as I am able. Head over to my Contact Me page, any of my social media channels or post a comment at the bottom of this page and I’ll see what I can do.
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More Chocolate Recipes
Classic French Silk Pie (Chocolate Tart)
- Offset Spatula
- 150 g Dark Chocolate (Bittersweet)
- 220 g Salted Butter - Softened
- 250 g Caster Sugar (Superfine Sugar)
- 2 tbsp Cocoa Powder (Dutch Processed)
- 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
- 4 Eggs - Large
- 1 9" Pastry Cases - Fully baked
- 300 ml Double Cream (Heavy Cream)
- 1 tbsp Icing Sugar (Confectioner's Sugar)
- 50 g Dark Chocolate Curls (Bittersweet)
- Melt 150g Dark Chocolate in a small bowl in a microwave or in a small pan on the hob.
- Leave the melted chocolate aside to cool.
- Beat together 220g Salted Butter and 250g Caster Sugar for a good 5 minutes using the regular beater in a stand mixer.
- Pour in the cooled melted chocolate along with 2 tbsp Cocoa Powder and 1 tsp Vanilla Extract. Mix to combine making sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl.
- Add 4 Eggs one at a time. After each addition, you need to mix on a medium speed for a full 5 minutes. Scrape down the bowl after about 30 seconds with each egg and again when you add the next egg.
- This will take 20 minutes in total and you will see the texture of the mix totally change.
- Pour the filling mixture into a 9” Fully Baked Pastry Case and allow to chill in the fridge for at least 4 hours. You can speed this up by chilling for an hour in the fridge then an hour in the freezer.
- (Now is a good time to make your chocolate curls if making them from scratch)
- Once the pie is chilled, pour 300ml Double Cream in a mixing bowl or stand mixer along with 1 tbsp Icing Sugar.
- Whisk until it has soft peaks. It just wants to hold its shape but not be stiff.
- Top with pie with the whipped cream. Pile the cream right in the middle of the pie.
- Push it towards the edge with a knife or spatula but don’t go all the way.
- Pile on 50g Chocolate Curls into the centre of the pie, slice and serve!