French pastry is full of itself. It doesn’t care much about the ingredients when compared to how much it cares about the technique. It calls for burning much of its products anyway, so it doesn’t matter what it tasted like before the French pastry machine got its hands on it. (e.g. French roast coffee; brulee; caramelization) French pastry focuses on the chef’s mastery of the technique, and thus creates a cuisine based on adroit manipulation of ingredients to make something better that what they started as.
There’s something to be said about resourcefulness in there. I tend to disagree with the whole premise I think that ingredients should be the star of the show, and not the chef. That’s why I love Japanese food and want Jiro to be my adoptive grandfather.
But still. There’s something to this whole technique-over-integrity-of-the-ingredient. It does produce a damned tasty product. One that you can’t get through short cuts like cornstarch and Cool Whip. Which brings me to the seemingly simple, yet wickedly deceitful complexity that is French Silk Pie. IT’S NOT EVEN FRENCH.
But it could be. Instead of using a pudding base, then folding in whipped cream to get a creamy, light, moussey consistency, the pie calls for creaming butter and whipping in raw eggs until either your arms falls off, or your mixer explodes. But. The result is worth the effort and bypassing the short cut. Think about it. How else are you going to get that chocolaty silk to melt once it hits your tongue? The stabilized pudding and whipped cream aren’t going to, that’s for sure. But butter? Butter, you see, melts. So does chocolate. At body temperature. And the raw eggs aren’t gonna stop that from happening like cornstarch would.
Besides, you want whipped cream? So shall it be. On top. In massive quantities.
This pie, I think, could be a hybrid of Japanese and French cuisines. The technique is certainly French enough…but the ingredient list mimics the foundations of Japanese cooking: minimal. Eggs, sugar, butter and chocolate. Vanilla if you want to blow some minds. This of course means that the better quality the ingredients, the better tasting the pie. But, if you prefer the taste of Cool Whip, margarine and paraffin wax, by all means, kill your soul a little.
*Note: Village Inn’s French Silk Pie–much like McDonald’s burger and Taco Bell’s Doritos taco–will always have a place in my heart*
So, naturally, I splurged on the best ingredients I could-somewhat-conveniently get. Short of driving a few hours to the nearest organic farm. The only thing I’d do differently is the butter. And it’s really just a preference thing: cultured or sweet. I used cultured butter (made with bacterial cultures), which provides an ever-so-slight tang (like buttermilk). I’m going to try sweet butter (made from fresh cream) next time in hope of a more delicate, creamy essence. (I say “essence” because that’s really the extent of the change in flavor and texture)
1 1/4 cups Organic chocolate sandwich cookie crumbs (they’re not really Oreos, because Oreo is a company, not a cookie. Bet you didn’t know that. I’m being sarcastic)
1/4 cup Butter, melted
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) Butter (preferably pasture-raised) at room temperature
1 cup Sugar
3 oz. Unsweetened or bittersweet chocolate (depends on the intensity of chocolate flavor you want and how sweet you want the finished pie. I used 88% organic chocolate)
3 Eggs (preferably pasture-raised or free-range. Pasture-raised are typically yellower and richer, because the girls get to eat bugs and grass)at room temperature
2 teaspoons Vanilla (the good stuff–I used Madagascar vanilla bean in Bourbon)
*If the butter is unsalted, add 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Sea salt. *
1. Pre-heat oven to 350
2. Combine crumbs and butter and press the mixture evenly into a 9″ pie pan
3. Bake for 10 minutes
4. Cool in the freezer or fridge while you make the filling
1. Melt the chocolate and allow to cool as much as it can while still liquid
2. Cream together butter, sugar, vanilla and salt (if using) until fluffy-about 2 minutes
3. Add cooled-ish chocolate and whip until incorporated. Scrape the sides. Lick your fingers.
4. Add an egg and beat FOR 5 WHOLE MINUTES. No joke. Seriously. Any less will end in tears.
5. Add the second egg, scrape, lick, beat another 5 minutes.
6. Add the third egg…okay…I cheated and only beat for 4 minutes and 30 seconds. But really…do beat for a majority of time. Otherwise you get buttercream. Eggy buttercream. Which is gross.
7. After your machine has melted, pour the filling into the cooled crust and chill for a couple of hours.
8. Top with pasture-raised whipped cream (with a little maple syrup mixed in)