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sick days and french silk pie

April 22nd, 2011 | 3 Comments »

It’s never convenient to get sick. Lots of people try the old ‘mind over matter’ thought process when they feel that scratchy throat come on, or the sniffles begin to build. I used to do that, but often I think that it makes it worse. While there are some ways to help ward off illnesses when they wage war on you, often the best defense is to realize that it likely has you beat, and to surrender.

So I surrendered this week when I felt the pain form in my throat and then move into my chest. I’m familiar with this type of respiratory illness, having been plagued with it my entire life. Thankfully, as I moved into a healthier way of living in the last 15 years or so, the severity of these illnesses is much less, and the frequency has dropped off too. I know, just by the symptoms, when I’m about to be dealt it’s blow. And this one couldn’t have come at a worst time.

For one thing, there was my son’s 17th birthday. And although I managed to make it through his celebratory dinner out, I felt horrible the entire time. My food tasted off, my head hurt and I just wanted to lay down and shut my eyes, waking up maybe, in a few days after the ickyness would pass. But, even through the ‘Blah’ that settled on me that day, I did manage to make his birthday requested French Silk Pie.

We like to treat birthdays with the consideration that nothing is off limits. And French Silk Pie was the gleam in his eye when I asked him what kind of cake he wanted. Even given the fact that I’d never made one from scratch, I agreed, because this is my boy, you know? There might not be that many more birthdays that he’s around to make a special request.

And muddling through the impending doom that was settling over my body, I churned out what has to be one of the best pies I’ve ever made. Then I promptly fell into an illness that left me shaking with fever, prone on the sofa, and unable to taste anything. Even if I could eat something, bringing forkfuls of rich chocolate pie to my mouth was just not going to happen. One bite and my stomach flipped over in protest. No rich foods! It called out to me. Soup! Eat Soup!

It’s been a long time since I’ve been that sick; that bone chilling, fevered sickness. I couldn’t sleep despite being exhausted. I couldn’t do anything like read a book or one of the magazines that are piling up on various surfaces around the house. I couldn’t summon up the energy to do much but flip over and over in bed, brushing the sweaty hair off my neck and forehead, and shaking with fever. But during the process of working this illness from my body, I began to think about it as some sort of transition I was going through. Lately I’ve felt really unmotivated in some areas of my life, this blog being one of them. I blame it solely on the transitional status of our weather, that strange flux state between winter and spring when you can’t stand the thought of one more heavy winter repast, yet the light refreshing springtime offerings aren’t quite ready to indulge in yet. My meals have lacked excitement, or creativity. I’ve submerged myself in throwing quick simple meals together, most often with a poached egg and some sort of vegetable like asparagus, or tiny new roasted potatoes and Griffin has made several delicious meals these past few weeks. But the food is consumed and the moment passes before I think ‘Hey I should have photographed that to blog about!’ but then, it’s done and gone.

And maybe my body knew this illness was coming, and began a sort of shutdown process ahead of time. The week that the illness fell was full of social activities and fun events, and being sick caused me to cancel out of every one of them. I don’t think I’d ever been more disappointed. But I couldn’t ignore this, nor could I have rose above it to go out anyway. So this purging through fever and downtime might be thought of as a motivator. Goodness knows I’ve got a stack of workable recipes, waiting to be turned into  blog posts just looking for the time, energy and verve to work through; current food magazines are brimming with ideas, beautiful recipes and fresh means to explore the bounty of Springtime. We’re still waiting for the nice weather to arrive and stick around, and every chilly day that brings yet another coating of fluffy wet snow makes it feel like some drawn out joke on us poor Minnesotans. So I accepted the illness, and the shutting down of my life and plans, letting Mike care for me, bring me soup, do the laundry and refill my water glass. He’s pretty amazing that way, and after nearly 10 years together, I’m still floored at how blessed I am to have someone who takes such good care of me when I’m sick. He makes it easy to just stop my life, and recover.

But…… there was that pie too.

It was delectably rich; creamy, fudgey and delicious. My guys were in heaven, and watching them consume their slices, topped with fresh whipped cream, was pure bliss. Even in my fevered state. I tried a piece when I started to feel better and was amazed at it’s creaminess, the intense chocolate flavor. But still, it wasn’t what my tummy wanted. At least I know now that when the request for French Silk Pie comes again, and I’m pretty sure it will, that I have this terrific recipe to offer.

Ok, so indulge me……What’s your favorite pie?


French Silk Pie

Pie crust of choice
2/3 c. sugar
2 eggs
2 oz unsweetened chocolate, chopped into small pieces
1 t. pure vanilla extract
1/3 c. butter, softened
2/3 c. heavy whipping cream
2 t. powdered sugar

Prep pie crust as needed, crimping edges. Preheat oven to 400° and bake pie crust 10-15 minutes, or until lightly golden brown. Allow to cool completely.

In a small saucepan, combine sugar and eggs, whisking to combine. Set over low heat, and whisking or stirring constantly, bring mixture to 160° , to where it thickly coats the back of a spoon. Remove from heat and add the chocolate and vanilla, whisking to melt chocolate and blend thoroughly. Cool to lukewarm, about 90°.

While chocolate mixture cools, beat butter with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add cooled chocolate mixture and beat on high speed for about 5 minutes. You want this to be light and fluffy, and flow in a continual thick ribbon when you lift the beaters.

In a separate bowl, beat heavy cream until thickened. Add in the powdered sugar and beat until cream holds very stiff peaks. Fold this whipped cream carefully into the chocolate mixture. It’s ok if it’s not completely uniform.

Spread into cooled pie crust, pressing into place with an icing spatula and smoothing the top. Place in refrigerator and chill for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight. Serve with extra whipped cream, and chocolate curls if desired.

From the Taste of Home website


I used half pure cane sugar and half pure maple syrup for my sugar content in this. The added liquid didn’t make any difference in the final product. I also had an extra 1/2 oz of chocolate and added that for extra richness. More chocolate is always good.

I’m not the best when it comes to pie crusts, and for this pie I used Marie Callendars pre-made pie crusts from the freezer section in the grocer. They come ready to fill in reusable tins. I was really pleased with the results, and the flavor of the crust is pretty good. It also has the purest ingredients. Another good ready-made pie crust is Pappy’s. It has lard in it, which obviously makes it amazing, but comes in squares that you need to roll out. So if you roll out a mean crust, go with Pappy’s. Of course, if you’re a whiz with pie dough, ignore all of this.