French Silk Chocolate Pie


Another day. Another lost recipe. Today’s find=French Silk Chocolate Pie. Sure you can find some in your local grocers freezer section so it technically isn’t that lost of a recipe, but the reason I included it is because most home bakers refuse to tackle such a pie on because the original formula used raw eggs and as we know these days is completely unsafe. Second of all it is a pretty involved recipe and in our daily lives it is hard to fit in time to make any type of pie let alone this type, and if you want this type it is very tempting to just grab one from the freezer section, de-thaw it, and voila it is ready to serve with ease. In fact the way I stumbled upon this pie was from the freezer section of my local supermarket when there was a sale on pies. This caused me to look up its history.


Despite the name including the word “French” this pie is an all-American concoction. It’s first appearance was at the Pillsbury Bake-Off competition of 1951 where its creator, Betty Cooper of Maryland, won the $1,000 prize. The pie is classic icebox style with an exotic name that reflects the international curiosity of postwar America. Originally Betty Cooper used a pie crust. I decided to switch it up for a more simple graham cracker crust. To whisk the chocolate portion of the filling into a light, silky texture without the use of Cooper’s raw eggs formula, a double boiler is necessary. Now I don’t buy those pricey contraptions. To be honest they are gimmicks to the baking enthusiast but completely unnecessary. Just take a large saucepan and a slightly smaller heatproof bowl that will rest securely on top of the saucepan. Place enough water in the saucepan to bring to a simmer but not boil. Place the bowl on top of the pan making sure the simmering water does not touch the bottom of the bowl. And there you have it… a homemade double boiler. Heck if you don’t have a heatproof bowl you can always use a slightly smaller saucepan in place of the bowl.


Now the reason the double boiler is necessary is to cook the eggs. Pillsbury offers a simpler option for the original bake-off recipe by using egg substitutes as a way to be safe but these give off an artificial flavor that is no different then going back to the frozen section and buying the pre-made ones. By beating the eggs with sugar over the double boiler you incorporate air which gives the filling the light texture that is so desirable about this pie. When the egg mixture reaches the safe temperature it gets very thick and foamy. This is when you remove it from the heat and let it cool down. Once it is cool you can add the chocolate and butter which gives the pie the signature rich flavor and silky smooth texture.


While researching this project I realized the drastic changes made to the Pillsbury Bake-Off competition. What used to be a competition that was pretty much open to any creative and delicious baked good now became a competition that forces contestants to use Pillsbury products like cookie dough or crescent rolls as their staple ingredient and therefore market the brand more than baking innovation itself. This competition is just a reminder of how our society has changed over the years. Contestants in the 50’s were treated like celebrities. Contestants wore corsages on fine outfits, worked in facilities set up at the posh Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City, and were served dishes like Guinea Hen Breast and Nectarines Flambe at a complimentary dinner… fare reserved nowadays for only the finest of restaurants.


The Bake-Off certainly has a rich history, dating all the way back to 1949 when it debuted as the “Grand National Recipe and Baking Contest”. General Mills probably had no idea that it would launch the most recognized of all modern American recipe contests and have such an affect on America’s culinary heritage. The original grand prize winner for No-Knead Water Rising Twists won $50,000, an award so prestige at the time it was presented by Eleanor Roosevelt. In 1954, Open Sesame Pie became so popular it launched a nationwide use of sesame seeds. In the years to come, the kids bake sale favorite, Peanut Blossom Cookies would rake in millions for the Hershey Company and the Tunnel of Fudge Cake would launch the popularity of the Bundt pan, causing factories to work round the clock to keep production up to consumer demand. Although French Silk Pie didn’t retain the initial popularity it gained in 1951, it is definitely a pie worth revisiting, with just a few modern tweaks.

Note: You may use homemade whipped cream for the topping or a tub of Cool Whip for convenience. A garnish of miniature chocolate chips around the outer edge of the pie is optional but a great finishing touch. Pie serves 8 to 10 people. Store in the refrigerator up to 3 days.

French Silk Chocolate Pie

Crust Ingredients:

  • 1 ¼ cups Graham Cracker Crumbs
  • 3 tbsp. Sugar
  • 5 1/3 tbsp. Unsalted Butter

Filling Ingredients:

  • 1 cup Heavy Cream; chilled
  • 3 Large Eggs
  • ¾ cup Sugar
  • 2 tbsp. Water
  • 8 oz. Bittersweet Chocolate; melted & cooled
  • 1 tbsp. Vanilla Extract
  • 8 tbsp. (1 stick) Unsalted Butter;  softened & cut into pieces
  • 2 cups Heavy Cream or 1 tub of Cool Whip
  • Miniature Chocolate Chips (optional)


  1. Prepare the crust: Melt butter in a small dish. Mix graham cracker crumbs and sugar together. Add the melted butter and stir until no dry crumbs remain. Line a spring-form pan with food grade acetate. Press graham cracker mixture evenly into the bottom of the prepared pan. Set aside.
  2. With mixer on medium-high speed, whip cream until stiff peaks form. Refrigerate.
  3. Combine eggs, sugar, and water in a large heatproof bowl set over a medium saucepan filled halfway with simmering water. Be sure you don’t let the bottom of the bowl touch the water. With a hand mixer set to medium speed, beat egg mixture until it has thickened and registers 160°, about 7 minutes. Remove the bowl from the heat and continue to beat until the mixture has cooled to room temperature and the texture is fluffy, about 8 minutes.
  4. Add the melted chocolate and vanilla to the cooled egg mixture, beating until incorporated. Beat in the butter, one piece at a time, until well combined. Using a spatula, fold in the whipped cream until no streaks of white remain. Scrape filling over the graham cracker crust and refrigerate until set, at least 3 hours. Once set, whip heavy cream to medium peaks or for convenience use a tub of Cool Whip and spread evenly over the set chocolate filling. If desired, sprinkle miniature chocolate chips around the outer edge of the pie and serve.









Toasted Coconut Sables


Mondays are never good days for many as it marks another long work week with memories of the great weekend becoming a more distant memory, however yesterday was truly a more sorrowful day here in America. My thoughts and prayers are with all of the people in Boston and all those who were participating or spectating when the Marathon bombing occurred. It is very hard to move on after such tragedy but it is little things that will make it easier to cope with. For me, indulging in sweets is a way to soothe a sad heart and I’m sure it is for many others and so it is only fitting I post this simple but indulgent cookie formula on a day like today.


On a lighter note, this past weekend my parents had to go to a function at one of Florida’s state parks and I was asked to help provide something for them to pass at the potluck. Being a little scrapped for cash lately I decided to pick something that would be unique and stand out enough but utilize ingredients I already had in the pantry. That is when I came across a French gem, the Sable cookie. Sable  is French for “sandy” and certainly fits the crispy crumble texture of this butter cookie. The typical American butter cookie is found around the holidays cut into shapes and covered in a sugary frosting, which I knew would not hold up well to the hot Florida elements and is not to mention a bit generic. So choosing the French base dough and giving it a tropical twist felt more befitting for the outdoor occasion.


The preparation is a bit unorthodox. Instead of using a raw egg, the dough is actually made with a hard-boiled egg yolk but it is crucial not to skip this step as it promotes the sandy tender texture. If you were to use a raw egg or egg yolk, the dough would have too much moisture and not be true to it’s name. Besides the step of boiling an egg, this formula has simple ingredients and simple preparation, yet provides a striking European-style delicate confection.




Toasted Coconut Sables



  • 1 Egg
  • 10 tbsp. Unsalted Butter, softened (1 ¼ sticks)
  • 2 ¾ oz. Sugar ( about 1/3 cup)
  • ¼ tsp. Salt
  • 1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
  • 7 ½ oz. Unbleached All-Purpose Flour (about 1 ½ cups)
  • 1/3 cup Sweetened Coconut, finely chopped, toasted
  • 1 Egg White, lightly beaten
  •  1/3 cup Sweetened Coconut, finely chopped, untoasted



  1. Place egg in a small saucepan and cover with water. Bring the water to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, remove the pan from the heat, cover, and let sit for 10 minutes. Meanwhile,  toast 1/3 cup of coconut in a small fry pan over low heat, stirring constantly. After the 10 minutes, transfer the egg with a slotted spoon into a bowl of ice water and let cool for 5 minutes. Roll the egg gently across a hard surface, such as the kitchen counter, pressing down gently to crack the shell. Peel away the shell and separate the cooked yolk from the white. Discard the white and press the yolk through a fine mesh strainer into a small bowl.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter, sugar, salt, and cooked egg yolk on medium speed until light and fluffy. Be sure to scrape the sides of the bowl and beater with a rubber spatula as needed. Turn the mixer speed down to low, add vanilla, and mix until just incorporated. Stop the mixer. Add the flour and toasted coconut. Mix on low speed until just combined. Using a rubber spatula, press dough into a cohesive mass.
  3. Divide the dough in half and roll each piece into a log about 6 inches long and 1 ¾ inches in diameter. Wrap each log tightly in parchment paper. Chill until firm, about 1 hour.
  4. Adjust oven racks to upper-middle and lower-middle positions and heat oven to 350°. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Using a sharp chef’s knife, slice dough into ¼ in. thick rounds. Place cookies 1 inch apart on baking sheets. Using pastry brush, gently brush cookies with egg whites and sprinkle evenly with untoasted sweetened coconut.
  5. Bake cookies until the centers are a pale golden brown with edges slightly darker than the center and the coconut toasted, about 15 minutes, rotating baking sheets halfway through baking. Cool cookies on baking sheets for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Formula yields about 40 cookies. Store the cooled cookies between sheets of parchment in an airtight container for up to 1 week.