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Recipe: Deliciously chocolatey and luxurious, this French silk pie for the Thanksgiving table is a show stopper

French Silk Pie.Sally Pasley Vargas

Makes one high 9-inch pie

Making French silk pie is a laborious effort, probably best when you are bringing dessert to a Thanksgiving feast, rather than hosting. But it is possible to work ahead, leaving only minimal tasks for the big day. The crust can be completed several days in advance; store it uncovered on the countertop until you are ready to use it. This version adds cocoa powder to a standard pie dough so you have a chocolate crust. In the filling, espresso powder deepens the chocolate without turning it into a mocha flavor; grated orange rind is a nice touch in the filling, with orange-scented whipped cream for the top. The filling is the most complicated step; make it a day ahead. You'll need to create a double boiler if you don't already own one. It's important not to let the bottom of the pan (or bowl in your makeshift set-up) touch the simmering water below. Keep the flames low so that they don't kiss the sides of the bowl resting on top. Melt the chocolate in this manner or in the microwave set at 50 percent power for 30-second bursts, stirring the chocolate between each one until it is completely melted. You also have to whisk eggs and sugar in another bowl in the double boiler, then cool them slightly before mixing with the melted chocolate. Then you beat butter, add the entire chocolate-egg mixture, and also add whipped cream. Are you still on board? Stay with us. It's a divine pie. Spoon the fluffy mixture into the shell, refrigerate for at least 5 hours or overnight, then pile on whipped cream and garnish with chocolate shavings. The key here is patience. Don't eliminate any of the chilling or cooling periods, as temperature is very important for the consistency of the final custard. Plan and work ahead and you'll wow your dining companions with a show-stopping dessert.

PASTRY

1cup flour
2tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
Pinch of salt
¼teaspoon baking powder
2tablespoons granulated sugar
5tablespoons cold, unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
¾teaspoon distilled white vinegar or cider vinegar
2tablespoons ice water, or more if needed
Extra flour (for sprinkling)

1. Have on hand a 9-inch pie plate.

2. In a food processor, combine the flour, cocoa powder, salt, baking powder, and granulated sugar. Pulse to blend them. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

3. Add the vinegar and 2 tablespoons of the ice water. Pulse a few times until the mixture forms moist clumps. Do not let it form a ball. Add more water, 1 teaspoon at a time, if necessary. Turn the clumps out on a lightly floured counter. Knead just until the dough comes together. Shape into a flat disk. Wrap in foil and refrigerate for 25 minutes.

4. On a lightly floured counter, roll the dough to a 12-inch round. Lift it onto the rolling pin and ease it into the pan. Fold the overhang under all around the edge like a hem, and press the rim so it is 1/4-inch high around the edges. Crimp the edges. With a fork, gently prick the bottom of the crust a dozen times (these holes release steam during baking). Freeze the crust for 30 minutes.

5. Set the oven at 375 degrees. Line the inside of the pie with parchment or foil, pressing it into the crust. Fill the liner with dried beans or pie weights, pushing them into the edges of the pan.

6. Bake the crust for 15 minutes. Carefully lift out the liner and weights. You may need to prick the pastry again at this point if it looks puffy on the bottom. Return the crust to the oven for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the crust is fully baked and no longer shiny. (Total baking time is 30 to 35 minutes.) Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

FILLING

8ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
½teaspoon dry espresso powder
4 eggs
cups granulated sugar
10tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
Grated rind of 1 orange
1teaspoon vanilla extract
1cup heavy cream
2tablespoons confectioners' sugar

1. Fill a saucepan with 2 inches of water. Have on hand 2 heatproof bowls that fit on the pot without touching the water below. Bring the water to a simmer over medium heat.

2. Place the chocolate in one of the bowls and set the bowl on the saucepan. Let the chocolate melt, stirring occasionally with a rubber spatula. Stir in the espresso powder. Remove the bowl from the water and wipe the bottom dry; keep slightly warm.

3. In the second bowl, combine the eggs and granulated sugar. Whisk well to combine them. Place the bowl on the saucepan and holding one side of the bowl with a pot holder, whisk the eggs constantly until the mixture reaches 160 degrees. Remove the bowl from the water and wipe the bottom dry; cool for 10 minutes.

4. Stir the melted chocolate into the eggs; cool for 10 minutes more, stirring occasionally.

5. In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, if you have one, or the whisk, beat the butter and the orange rind on medium-high speed for 2 to 3 minutes, or until fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Beat in the vanilla.

6. With the mixer set on low speed, pour in the chocolate mixture. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat on medium-high speed for 3 minutes.

7. In another bowl, again in an electric mixer, whip the heavy cream and confectioners' sugar on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form. With a rubber spatula, fold the whipped cream into the chocolate mixture.

8. Transfer the filling to the cooled pastry. With a spatula, smooth the top. Cover loosely with plastic wrap, and chill for at least 5 hours or overnight.

TOPPING

1cup heavy cream
2tablespoons confectioners' sugar
½teaspoon orange extract
½teaspoon vanilla extract
2ounces bittersweet chocolate (for shaving)

1. In an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the cream, confectioners' sugar, and orange and vanilla extracts until the cream forms medium peaks.

2. Transfer the whipped cream to the pie and swirl decoratively. Grate the chocolate and sprinkle the chocolate shavings on the cream. Refrigerate until serving.

Karoline Boehm Goodnick

Makes one high 9-inch pie

Making French silk pie is a laborious effort, probably best when you are bringing dessert to a Thanksgiving feast, rather than hosting. But it is possible to work ahead, leaving only minimal tasks for the big day. The crust can be completed several days in advance; store it uncovered on the countertop until you are ready to use it. This version adds cocoa powder to a standard pie dough so you have a chocolate crust. In the filling, espresso powder deepens the chocolate without turning it into a mocha flavor; grated orange rind is a nice touch in the filling, with orange-scented whipped cream for the top. The filling is the most complicated step; make it a day ahead. You'll need to create a double boiler if you don't already own one. It's important not to let the bottom of the pan (or bowl in your makeshift set-up) touch the simmering water below. Keep the flames low so that they don't kiss the sides of the bowl resting on top. Melt the chocolate in this manner or in the microwave set at 50 percent power for 30-second bursts, stirring the chocolate between each one until it is completely melted. You also have to whisk eggs and sugar in another bowl in the double boiler, then cool them slightly before mixing with the melted chocolate. Then you beat butter, add the entire chocolate-egg mixture, and also add whipped cream. Are you still on board? Stay with us. It's a divine pie. Spoon the fluffy mixture into the shell, refrigerate for at least 5 hours or overnight, then pile on whipped cream and garnish with chocolate shavings. The key here is patience. Don't eliminate any of the chilling or cooling periods, as temperature is very important for the consistency of the final custard. Plan and work ahead and you'll wow your dining companions with a show-stopping dessert.

PASTRY

1cup flour
2tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
Pinch of salt
¼teaspoon baking powder
2tablespoons granulated sugar
5tablespoons cold, unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
¾teaspoon distilled white vinegar or cider vinegar
2tablespoons ice water, or more if needed
Extra flour (for sprinkling)

1. Have on hand a 9-inch pie plate.

2. In a food processor, combine the flour, cocoa powder, salt, baking powder, and granulated sugar. Pulse to blend them. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

3. Add the vinegar and 2 tablespoons of the ice water. Pulse a few times until the mixture forms moist clumps. Do not let it form a ball. Add more water, 1 teaspoon at a time, if necessary. Turn the clumps out on a lightly floured counter. Knead just until the dough comes together. Shape into a flat disk. Wrap in foil and refrigerate for 25 minutes.

4. On a lightly floured counter, roll the dough to a 12-inch round. Lift it onto the rolling pin and ease it into the pan. Fold the overhang under all around the edge like a hem, and press the rim so it is 1/4-inch high around the edges. Crimp the edges. With a fork, gently prick the bottom of the crust a dozen times (these holes release steam during baking). Freeze the crust for 30 minutes.

5. Set the oven at 375 degrees. Line the inside of the pie with parchment or foil, pressing it into the crust. Fill the liner with dried beans or pie weights, pushing them into the edges of the pan.

6. Bake the crust for 15 minutes. Carefully lift out the liner and weights. You may need to prick the pastry again at this point if it looks puffy on the bottom. Return the crust to the oven for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the crust is fully baked and no longer shiny. (Total baking time is 30 to 35 minutes.) Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

FILLING

8ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
½teaspoon dry espresso powder
4 eggs
cups granulated sugar
10tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
Grated rind of 1 orange
1teaspoon vanilla extract
1cup heavy cream
2tablespoons confectioners' sugar

1. Fill a saucepan with 2 inches of water. Have on hand 2 heatproof bowls that fit on the pot without touching the water below. Bring the water to a simmer over medium heat.

2. Place the chocolate in one of the bowls and set the bowl on the saucepan. Let the chocolate melt, stirring occasionally with a rubber spatula. Stir in the espresso powder. Remove the bowl from the water and wipe the bottom dry; keep slightly warm.

3. In the second bowl, combine the eggs and granulated sugar. Whisk well to combine them. Place the bowl on the saucepan and holding one side of the bowl with a pot holder, whisk the eggs constantly until the mixture reaches 160 degrees. Remove the bowl from the water and wipe the bottom dry; cool for 10 minutes.

4. Stir the melted chocolate into the eggs; cool for 10 minutes more, stirring occasionally.

5. In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, if you have one, or the whisk, beat the butter and the orange rind on medium-high speed for 2 to 3 minutes, or until fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Beat in the vanilla.

6. With the mixer set on low speed, pour in the chocolate mixture. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat on medium-high speed for 3 minutes.

7. In another bowl, again in an electric mixer, whip the heavy cream and confectioners' sugar on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form. With a rubber spatula, fold the whipped cream into the chocolate mixture.

8. Transfer the filling to the cooled pastry. With a spatula, smooth the top. Cover loosely with plastic wrap, and chill for at least 5 hours or overnight.

TOPPING

1cup heavy cream
2tablespoons confectioners' sugar
½teaspoon orange extract
½teaspoon vanilla extract
2ounces bittersweet chocolate (for shaving)

1. In an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the cream, confectioners' sugar, and orange and vanilla extracts until the cream forms medium peaks.

2. Transfer the whipped cream to the pie and swirl decoratively. Grate the chocolate and sprinkle the chocolate shavings on the cream. Refrigerate until serving.Karoline Boehm Goodnick

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