I'm pretty darn partial to chocolate. Between all the cakes, brownies, protein bars, cookies, chia, chocolates, spreads, smoothies, nice cream and all, you'd think that covers all chocolate bases, and yet I keep coming up with more chocolatey ideas... Sort of similar to my little chocolate drawer situation -- no matter how full it is, I always manage to haul new chocolate bars home when I come across them. Does it matter that I've got three different kinds of orange flavored bars in there? Nope. Does it matter that I've got my own homemade chocolate in the fridge? Not one bit. Doesn't stop me from wondering what the next bar will taste like... So that brings me to this no-bake vegan French Silk Pie... a new and rather necessary addition to the chocolate category on the recipes page.
When I was a teen a friend gifted me a fridge magnet with a rather corny saying on it: "There's nothing better than a good friend, except a good friend with chocolate" -- despite the cliche, I'm kinda feeling a strong need to be the good friend with chocolate here, and share some of this pie with you -- at least in recipe form :). When I first made it I just couldn't get over how good it was. I have a pretty good feeling that you'll love it too, if you're a chocolate-loving kind of person.
So what makes it so good? Um, well it's probably the smoothest, fluffiest, moussiest, silkiest, velvetiest, creamiest, chocolatiest, dreamiest melt-in-your-mouth chocolate pie I've had. Probably EVER. And what makes it French? Truthfully, I had absolutely no idea when I first made it! All I knew was that a friend who's been working in a posh bakery told me that French Silk Pie was the biggest seller there, and she's been pestering me to make some for years. Well, I'm glad I finally came around to giving it a go. Friends, I now see what all the rage has been about. This is a chocolate-lovers chocolate dessert.
I've since looked up a little more about the history of this dessert. Turns out this "French" treat is actually an all American invention. The predominant word on the street is that it was an award winning creation in a Pillsbury bake-off (1951) by a lady named Betty Cooper. The name appears to have to do more with the silky and luxurious texture of the pie, than with France. Well, Mrs. Cooper, I tip my hat to you -- it's certainly one lovely dessert concept!
When I set off to work on creating this recipe I relied solely on the description of the texture and pie filling flavors my friend provided me with, adapting the concept to make a no-bake, gluten-free, and vegan French Silk Pie. I also purposefully skipped a classic component of this treat: the whip topping and chocolate shavings. This pie is traditionally served with a layer of whip cream and some chocolate shavings, but I decided to skip that part. Instead I just added a white swirl using some dairy-free yogurt. I felt the cake had enough flavor and a beautiful texture to stand on its own. Feel free to add some coconut whip if you're feeling more traditional though.
Interestingly, I have an old "nutella" cream pie recipe on the blog, featuring a layer of chocolate and a layer of cream, yet the two are worlds apart. Though I love the old pie very much, there really is something magical about this new silken version.
A few things I'm quite happy about with this creation: it's not only gluten-free, vegan (hence dairy-free and egg-free), and refined sugar-free, but it's also nut-free (optional), coconut-free, and grain-free. That's a lot of things crossed off the regular "Can It Be Made Without.." list! And it's a no-bake cake that can be ready in just over an hour, start to finish. It's a super no-fuss treat (just see Janel's video of her making it down below -- it's a breeze!).
Another thing I quite like is that it's a fridge cake, and not a freezer cake, which makes the texture velvety and creamy straight away. I love my freezer cakes very much, but sometimes you just want something a little different, ya know?
The best part is that this cake tastes super luxurious and rich, but it's actually lightened up quite a bit by the tofu (compared to a nut-based cake of this sort). I don't do soy very often on the blog because I know a lot of people are quite sensitive, but in this cake it's just purely magical -- an essential component.
Just a quick final note here before I let you dive into the pie: the firmness of the cake is entirely controlled by the cake's temperature. If you keep it frozen, it will last longer (so you can freeze some for later use), but it will also be firm so I recommend thawing it out a bit for a creamier, silky texture. Otherwise, keep it refrigerated and serve straight from the fridge for the best consistency. If it seems like it's a bit too soft, just chill it briefly in the freezer and it will firm right up. So long as it's not boiling hot where you are, it should hold up at room temp for a bit.
Vegan French Silk Pie
A smooth, fluffy, melt-in-your-mouth vegan chocolate pie recipe topped with dairy-free yogurt or whip. Gluten-free & no-bake.
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Total Time: 15 minutes
- Yield: 7" pie
- Category: Pie
- Method: No-Bake
- Cuisine: Dessert
- 1½ cups raw brazil nuts*
- 8 soft medjool dates, pitted
- ⅛ tsp salt
- 2 tbsp raw agave (or maple syrup)
- 2 tbsp cacao powder
- 300gr / 10.5oz regular (or firm) tofu (make sure it's room temp and not cold)
- ⅔ cup chopped dairy-free dark chocolate of your choice, melted**
- ⅓ cup cacao powder
- ⅓ cup raw agave (or maple syrup***)
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- just under ½ tsp salt
- just under ¼ tsp instant espresso powder (optional****)
- a few tablespoon dairy-free yogurt for swirls*****, cacao nibs, chocolate coated cacao nibs, chocolate covered amaranth balls, edible rose buds and petals. Other topping ideas: coconut whip cream, shaved chocolate.
- Process nuts, dates, and salt in a food processor into a fine crumble. Add agave and cacao powder and process to combine. Transfer into a 7" tart pan (or pie plate) and press into a crust along base and edges. Place in the freezer while working on the next step.
- Blend the tofu into a smooth consistency in a power blender. Add all remaining filling ingredients and blend until smooth. Pour over prepared crust and tap the pan on the counter a few times to smooth the filling out.
- Optional: drizzle the yogurt over the cake using a cake decorating pen or pipping bag, create desired swirl pattern, sprinkle with any additional toppings. Freeze cake for 1 hour to set. Afterwards keep it refrigerated until serving. Enjoy!
*Use toasted pumpkin seeds for a nut-free version.
**Can also use chocolate chips. I recommend using your favorite chocolate bar or something similar for best flavor.
***If substituting with maple syrup, keep in mind it's usually a bit sweeter than other liquid sweeteners, so you might want to start with a bit less and adjust the flavor to your liking.
****The espresso powder adds an incredible rich chocolate flavor to this pie.
*****A runnier yogurt works best (some dairy-free varieties can be a little dense).
******Double recipe for 9" pie
Keywords: Vegan French Silk Pie Recipe
This recipe looks amazing. I’m so keep to try it out however I don’t have accessibility to raw nuts or a nut shop. Is natural nut packets ok from supermarket stores?
Hi Rose, yes roasted nuts would work just fine here. They have a slightly deeper/nuttier flavor usually, but it still works great in a dessert like this. Enjoy! :)
Looking forward to trying it out. Dumb question maybe but can you clarify if the tofu is drained and pressed or drained only or something else?
Hi Marcy, good q :) I just drained it, no need to press. Enjoy!
O.M.G. Audrey.....I have NEVER had a dessert so silky smooth....not even before being vegan. This is DIVINE!!!! THANK YOU so much for sharing this amazing recipe. I can't wait to make it again for my unsuspecting non-vegan family and friends....I know they will be blown away with this too!!! :)
Hi Ro, thanks for your awesome comment. Made my day :)
My family love this recipe so much. It’s a staple in our home. Fits for our various food sensitivities too besides tasting delicious . Could you suggest a cooked crust ? My niece loves the filling but doesn’t like raw crusts and i would like to make this for her upcoming birthday. Thanks Audrey.
Hi Mary, so sorry I missed your lovely comment somehow! :S
I've never tried this with a baked crust, but I do have some baked pies on the blog so you can perhaps improvise with a crust from them (depending on what your sensitivities are). Here are a few examples:
If you give it a try with a baked crust, I'd love to hear how it turned out for you.
I made this recipe and it came out delicious. Thanks
Thanks so much for the feedback -- glad you enjoyed it :)
I did your French Silk Pie.The crust I did it with cashews and turned ok. The filling I just changed the agave to rice malt and it turned doughy like the crust. Why do you think it turned like that? What did I do wrong?
Hi Ana, that's odd. I don't think changing to rice malt should impact it. Did you by chance change anything else in the recipe?
The only things that come to mind as a guess are: not blending the tofu first (before adding other ingredients), using firm or extra firm tofu instead of regular (as it's dryer), or adding a bit too much cacao (which tends to dehydrate the liquids out of mixtures).
Hello! What a WoW! Would love to try this just some q's: do you taste the tofu? How does it taste? Regular tofu is not silken right? Thanks!!
Hi Leng. I can't taste any tofu in this at all -- the chocolate and cocoa powder cover it up nicely. And yes, silken tofu is different to regular tofu in texture. I used regular here (i.e. not soft, but not too firm) to give it a soft texture. You could try this though with extra firm silken tofu -- I think that could work well too.
hello audrey! i have made this..again :) i have noticed that the chocolate mixture tend to be so sticky during blending so i add 2T of milk just to loosen it up a bit. the first time i made this, they were all surprised that tofu is in it. my family enjoyed it but not to keen for seconds . i guess they just have to get used to healthy desserts. my friends on the other had was very amazed when they found out that the made ingredients is tofu haha!
will bring this tomorrow to a friends party. thanks for the wonderful recipe! you inspire me!
Hi leng -- thank you for sharing :) So happy to hear it went over well. I find sometimes when I tell people what's in a dessert it makes them a little more prejudiced against it than if I just give them "chocolate pie" :) I usually wait until after tasting to say what's in things if need be. Glad you enjoyed it!
Can you use anything else than tofu ?
Just reposting a reply I shared below to a similar question:
There’s an option in the recipes section of this blog for “soy-free” recipes — might be easier for you to find things you can enjoy that way. For this particular recipe, you can use the filling from this cake instead (double the recipe though) as fairly similar in consistency:
Hope that works :)
Each time I see a recipe from you I am fascinated by your beautiful pictures - though they all seem dive-worthy by taste already the beauty of composition adds even more to it! Do you work as a designer in any way professionally?
Thank you so much for your kind comment, Bridget! :) I did a bit of design work in the past (web design, stock imagery, interior design, and also some technical design like ebook layout), but since discovering my passion for food photography and recipe creation I pretty much just focus on that these days. I've never been trained in any of those things though -- mostly just self-taught and follow my imagination and hope my skills can keep up with it ? -- it's always a work in progress and a learning journey.
Kelly Katolin says
Any suggestions for Tofu substitutes? I have extreme sensitivities to soy products. thanks Kelly
I hear ya. There's an option in the recipes section of this blog for "soy-free" recipes -- might be easier for you to find things you can enjoy that way. For this particular recipe, you use the filling from this cake instead (double the recipe though) as fairly similar in consistency:
If im allergic to tofu, how can i subtitute?
Hi Renee, have you tried hemp tofu? That's the best direct substitute I can think of. Otherwise you can use the cake filling from this avocado chocolate mousse cake, with the addition of a bit of espresso powder to taste. Or, if you want to stick to this recipe, you can make a cashew cream by soaking 1 cup cashews in water to plum them up and then blend them along with the rest of the filling ingredients + 2 tbsp coconut oil in place of the tofu). Hope some of these suggestions work -- would love to hear what you end up doing and how you go if you make this.
P.S. There's a soy-free section on the recipes page -- not sure if you had a chance to explore that, but just mentioning in case :)
Could we use extra cacao powder with some liquid like a nut milk instead of using the melted chocolate?
I cannot WAIT to try this- I absolutely adore all of your recipes! ? Every day deserves a good dose of chocolate ?
Hi Lizzy, the chocolate is what helps it to set (because of the cacao butter in it). You can use a DIY magic shell (like this recipe) instead if you prefer.
I want to try making some of your delicious looking desserts, but I don't have a food processor...so I'm thinking of buying one, but I wondered if you had a preference for the size/kind etc.?? There are so many options to choose from, and I just want to get the best one for making things like your nut crusts. Thank you!!
Hi Samantha. Any regular processor should work (but not those tiny plastic ones that are meant to just chop up a bit of garlic, etc.). In fact I've been working temporarily with a really pathetic Black & Decker one for a few months now and my desserts still came out (though it's been a bit of a pain at times). But funny you should ask because today I'm finally heading out to buy the one I actually love -- a Breville sous chef pro. I've worked with it in the past and it's hands down the best processor I've come across. It's a touch pricy, but for me it's well worth the investment -- super durable.
Thanks Audrey! Yes, I've been looking at that one too, it does seem to be the best in its price range :).
Picked mine up yesterday and couldn't be more happy :) I got the 12 cup one. I've worked with it in the past for some time and it was just awesome.
All I have is extra firm tofu. Would that work?
If you have a good blender, I think should still work just fine. A softer tofu would give it a slightly softer / fluffier / silkier texture though which is why I chose to use it.
I am also a fan of silken tofu in chocolate cakes. They offer a lighter version than a cashews and that's why I do preffer them when I want something with chocolate but less heavy.
Your pie looks divine, Audrey, I only wish I had some tofu home to make it.
Totally in love with it <3
Thanks so much, Natalia :) And yes, absolutely. I've not been sharing too many recipes with tofu on the blog because I know a lot of people are sensitive to soy, but I absolutely love it in cakes and pies too.
This pie looks decadent! I've tried tofu in pies before but it never looked like this. Must try it again. The brazil nuts might be a nice change, too. I usually use almonds. Beautiful work, Audery
Thanks so much, Melissa! Yes, just had brazil nuts on hand. I love them with chocolate, so why not? :) But almonds would work great here too.
Natalie | Feasting on Fruit says
"Moussiest" could be my new favorite dessert descriptor. Although autocorrect thinks I'm talking about mice haha. But light and fluffy desserts always get my full attention! I had a mild french silk ice cream addiction for a couple of years in my middle school years, so that is a flavor I am very familiar with and adore <3 It looks just as beautiful as I'm sure it tastes!
Haha, I know -- autocorrect didn't like "moussiest" either, but I say it's a word. A delicious word. And what's French Silk Ice Cream!? ?