Caramel French Silk Pie with Pretzel Crust

Created by: Nicole Leggio, Cooking for Keeps

Turkey, dressing and mashed potatoes get all the love when it comes to Thanksgiving – but for me, Thanksgiving isn’t complete without dessert, and that includes at least three variations of pie.

Of course, there’s the obligatory pumpkin pie (which I love and would never think about omitting); there’s your pecan pie (mandatory at our house); and then there’s the wild card, which for my family tends to be something new and exciting each year.

I’ve whipped up apple pies and pear tarts, and while I adored them all, I feel like dessert isn’t truly complete unless there’s a little bit of chocolate involved. I grew up on French silk pie, so of course it’s a dessert that’s near and dear to my heart. But for some reason, it never seemed to make it to the Thanksgiving table – that changes now. Because “new and exiting” is the ultimate goal for the wild card dessert, this particular French silk pie has its own twists and turns.

For starters, instead of a butter-and-flour-based pastry crust, I opted for an easier, less traditional, sweet and salty pretzel-based crust made up of crushed pretzels, brown sugar and plenty of melted butter. The mixture is pressed into a greased baking dish, popped into the oven until it’s golden brown and set, and then left to cool to room temperature.

While the crust cools, the two other components of the pie are assembled – a caramel sauce base and the actual French silk filling. Brown sugar, butter and heavy cream make up the caramel sauce. Plenty of chocolate, softened butter, eggs, sugar and store-bought whipped topping make up the French silk filling. While I admit that the French silk filling does require a little bit of a time commitment, the end results are 100% worth the effort; plus, I feel like holidays warrant a little bit of an extra special touch.

Once the pretzel crust is cooled, the caramel sauce gets poured into the bottom, with the French silk filling following next. The whole pie is covered in plastic wrap and popped into the fridge to set up for a few hours or, preferably, overnight. Right before serving, it’s covered with the remaining whipped topping, sprinkled with some crushed pretzels and shaved chocolate, and then it's ready for the dessert table!

30 min | Prep time: 13 hours | Serves: 8
Ingredients for Crust:
  • 4 cups mini-pretzels
  • ¼ cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 stick butter, melted
Ingredients for Caramel:
  • ½ cup packed brown sugar
  • 2½ Tbsp. butter
  • ⅓ cup heavy cream
Ingredients for Filling:
  • 8 oz. semisweet chocolate chips
  • 2 whole eggs
  • 1 egg yolk
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 stick butter, softened
  • 8 oz. whipped topping
  1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Grease a pie dish with nonstick cooking spray or butter.
  2. Add pretzels and sugar to a food processor. Pulse until almost completely crushed. Slowly drizzle in melted butter while pulsing.
  3. Transfer mixture to pie dish, and use your fingers or the side of a measuring cup to push the crust into the bottom and up the sides of the pan. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until the crust is golden brown and set. Cool completely.
  4. In a medium sauce pan, add butter and brown sugar. Turn the heat to medium. Let the butter and sugar melt, stirring occasionally. Once all of the butter has melted, add in heavy cream. Cook for 1-2 minutes or until the sugar has completely melted. Remove from stove; set aside.
  5. Put the chocolate in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave in 25-second intervals, stirring in between each interval, until chocolate is almost melted. Once chocolate has just a few pieces left, stir until completely melted. (The heat of the bowl will finish melting the chocolate.)
  6. In a small saucepan, whisk sugar and egg yolks together. Turn the heat down to low, and while stirring almost constantly, heat the mixture up until the sugar has melted and the mixture is hot. It should coat the back of a spoon and when you run your finger through the middle, nothing should drip down. Remove from heat and add chocolate; stir until combined. Cool to room temperature.
  7. In a medium bowl, cream butter with a hand-held mixer. Cream until light and fluffy, 1-2 minutes. Add in chocolate mixture; beat until combined.
  8. Gently fold in 1 cup of whipped topping until combined.
  9. Pour caramel into the cooled crust. Pour chocolate filling on top. Cover with plastic wrap, and chill for six hours or preferably overnight.
  10. Before serving, top with remaining whipped topping, extra crushed pretzels and shaved chocolate.

View Party Plan: Thanksgiving Feast