Testing the recipe for Chocolate Silk Pie from the Smitten Kitchen cookbook was a double accomplishment for me. The pie was runner-up in a previous Ideas Post the same week a co-worker asked for chocolate silk pie as their birthday treat. The reason it’s taken so long to post (almost a month!) is I’ve been a little embarrassed — I do not have a single picture of the full, finished product because my co-workers devoured it in less than 15 minutes.
Since it’s a pie that’s best served and enjoyed cold, I sent an email alerting everyone to stop by my office at 1:15pm to wish the birthday boy well and enjoy chocolate silk pie. I’ve never had more people in my office at one time and there was barely any left for me to taste-test. Deb Perelman’s chocolate silk pie was very well received by everyone who tried it. What was left was delicious – not too heavy, not overly sweet, very rich and chocolatey.
Deb’s recipe for chocolate silk pie has a cute origin story, with roots in a Bake-Off in the 50s for a French Chocolate Silk Pie. The pie itself is supremely simple to make, although you need to wait at least 6 hours after making it before you can dig in since it’s best served cold. I wish I could figure out a way to add “wait time” to my recipe plug-in, but for now, I guess people have to read through my posts or at least the recipe header.I only had one minor difficulty with this recipe. I turned my chocolate wafer cookies into crumbs by putting them into a Ziploc and crushing them with a rolling pin; it’s possible that wasn’t sufficient and using a food processor could deliver a better crust result. Deb doesn’t instruct the reader in how to obtain cookie crumbs, she just assumes her audience knows how to make them, which seems like a safe enough assumption. Pressing this cookie crust into an even layer during preparation was a challenge and later (maybe because of my press-job), it was difficult to cut through the crust. I gave up on serving beautiful, even slices of pie since the crust didn’t always follow the filling. Buttering the pie pan might ameliorate the issue. From the pictures, it’s obvious I didn’t actually own a pie pan when making this recipe (an oversight that’s since been rectified), but I doubt the cake pan is the one to blame. First you make a chocolate cookie crumb crust (although I’m sure graham crackers would be an excellent alternative), then cool the crust while you make your filling. The filling has only five ingredients, so it’s really important that you use high-quality ingredients. In addition, the chocolate silk filling is achieved using raw eggs, therefore you should use the freshest eggs possible. Nothing is masked in this pie. Making this chocolate silk pie is definitely a time when it’s worth paying for unsweetened chocolate from your favorite chocolatier and eggs from your local farmer.
The filling is a very simple chocolate buttercream into which the eggs are beaten for five minutes each to create the volume, satiny gloss, and pillowy texture expected from silk pie (this whip-whole-eggs-into-sugar approach is also used by one of my favorite recipes from Alice Medrich to achieve a dreamy flourless chocolate cake).
After making the filling, the pie needs to chill completely, which also gives all the flavors time to mingle and intensify. When I tasted the filling immediately after making it, I worried the pie would be a huge disappointment because it seemed bland. Happily, after the requisite resting time in the fridge, the pie was satisfying rich, intensely chocolatey, and not too sweet. Plan ahead to make the chocolate silk pie from Smitten Kitchen and whoever eats it will not be disappointed!
Just remember, this pie is best chilled; serve and consume it within 15-20 minutes, after which return any leftovers to the refrigerator for up to 2 days.
- 1½ cups (130 g) chocolate-wafer crumbs*
- 2 tablespoons (25 g) sugar
- pinch of salt
- 5 tablespoons (70 g) unsalted butter, melted
- 12 tablespoons (170 g) butter, room temperature
- 1 cup (200 g) sugar
- 3 oz (85 g) unsweetened chocolate*, melted and cooled
- 3 large eggs*
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup (235 ml) heavy cream
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- Optional: chocolate curls (shave from bittersweet chocolate bar)
- Preheat oven to 350 F. Combine the cookie crumbs, sugar, and salt in a medium bowl. Stir in the melted butter such that it's evenly dispersed.
- Press crumbs evenly across bottom and up the sides of a 9-inch pie dish (this takes some patience, at first it will seem like you don't have enough).
- Bake for 10 minutes in the preheated oven, then set aside to cool completely before adding filling.**
- Whip together the butter and sugar until the mixture is fluffy and pale, about 3 minutes.
- Drizzle in the melted chocolate while mixing at low speed.
- Add eggs one at a time, beating at medium speed for 5 minutes after each addition. Then scrape down the bowl.
- Add the vanilla and blend again to evenly distribute the flavor.
- Spread the chocolate filling across the prepared (and cooled) crust. Smooth the top, place in fridge to chill at least 6 hours.***
- Immediately**** prior to serving, whip the cream with the sugar until soft peaks are formed. Spoon this cream onto the pie and finish with bittersweet chocolate shavings.
*The quality of chocolate you use is critical to the flavor of your pie, since it's really the shining star and major ingredient. I used Scharffen-Berger chocolate for my pie, and it was heavenly.
*Since you're using raw eggs in this pie, use the freshest eggs possible. This is not the recipe for Costco/mega-supermarket eggs.
**Use the refrigerator to speed along the crust cooling once it's been out of the oven for a bit.
***If you choose to cover the pie at this point with Saran wrap, know that it will cling to your pie filling, however, you'll be covering the marred surface with whipped cream later. Or, believe that your refrigerator won't impart any "extra" smells to your pie.
****Whipped cream is best when fresh, but if you need to transport this pie, don't fret. I whipped the cream for this in the morning around 8:30am, stored it (and the pie) separately in the refrigerator, and then topped the pie just before serving at 1:30pm. The whipped cream didn't weep and was still lovely.