A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from December 13, 2011
French Silk Chocolate Pie

"French Silk Chocolate Pie” by Mrs. Kendall (Betty) Cooper of Silver Spring, MD, won the $1,000 “best in class - pie” award at the 1951 Pillsbury Bake-Off, held at New York’s Waldorf-Astoria Hotel. The recipe of unsweetened chocolate, sugar, eggs, butter, and vanilla (topped with whipped cream and chocolate curls) is not French at all—it’s adapted from a chocolate ice box pie recipe that Betty Cooper received from a friend’s mother, Hilda Larson, in Holdrege, Nebraska. It’s not known why Betty Cooper chose the “French Silk” name.

Dreyer’s Grand Ice Cream trademarked the “French Silk” ice cream flavor in 1992. A “French Silk” coffee was trademarked in 1995.


Next Exit (Nebraska)
The French Silk Story
When she was growing up in Holdrege, Betty Winquest’s best friend was Mary Larson. Later—after she moved to Washington DC, met and married Ken Cooper—she had only four recipes in her collection. One was for a chocolate “ice box” pie from Mary’s mother Hilda Larson. That recipe on a battered piece of folded stationary would become the basis for the internationally famous French Silk Pie.

In 1951, Pillsbury was organizing their third annual bake off, and Betty heard about it listening to an Arthur Godfrey radio program. She decided to adapt Hilda’s recipe, which had become a favorite of her young family. She won the first rounds and was invited to final bake off in New York. There she won “Best of Class” and a $1,000 check.
(Recipe follows, along with Betty Cooper’s personal account—ed.)

Pillsbury.com
French Silk Chocolate Pie
Betty Cooper
Kensington, Maryland
Bake-Off® Contest 03, 1951.
INGREDIENTS
Crust
1 box Pillsbury® refrigerated pie crusts, softened as directed on box
Filling
3 oz Hershey’s® unsweetened chocolate, cut into pieces
1 cup LAND O LAKES® Butter, softened (do not use margarine)
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
4 pasteurized eggs
Topping
1/2 cup sweetened whipped cream
Chocolate curls, if desired

Google News Archive
13 December 1951, Oxnard (CA) Press-Courier, “La Jolla Mother Receives $25,000 In Bake-off Contest” by Elizabeth Toomey, pg. 15, col. 3:
(...)
Prizes of $1,000 each, awarded to best of class winners, were handed to six more of the 100 contestants by Miss Truman at a luncheon at the Waldorf-Astoria hotel.
(...)
...Mrs. K. E. Cooper, SIlver SPring,Md., pie class.

22 February 1952, Morning Advocate (Baton Rouge, LA), “Parish Library Pantry” by Mrs. Max Schenker, pg. 4C, col. 3:
Another pie Betsy St. Julien served to another group was a French Silk Chocolate—and it was truly wonderful.

French Silk Chocolate Pie
Bake an 8-in. crust at 450 degrees for 10-12 minutes.
Filling
Cream
1/2 cup butter, add gradually
3/4 cup sugar, creaming thoroughly.
Blend in
1 square (1 Oz.) chocolate, melted and cooled.
1 teaspoon vanilla
Add 2 eggs, beaten five minutes after each addition.
Turn into cooled pit shell. Chill 1-2 hours. Serve with whipped cream. Crushed black walnuts are sprinkled on top. Serves 6.

26 July 1953, Corpus Christi (TX) Caller-Times, pg. 14, col. 1 ad:
French Silk Chocolate Pie...16c
(Robin Hood Cafeteria—ed.)

16 January 1958, Los Angeles (CA) Times, “Mrs. America Recipes Offered,” pg. A8:
Heading the recipes is Mrs. America’s own French Silk Chocolate Filling.

Google News Archive
19 October 1959, Youngstown (OH) Vindicator, “Marjorie Mariner’s Kitchen Corner: Recipe for the Day,” pg. 17, col. 3:
French Silk Chocolate Pie
Ingredients and method:
1.2 cup butter
3/4 cup sugar
Add sugar gradually to creamed butter; blend in:
1 square chocolate, melted and cool
1 teaspoon vanilla
Add 2 eggs, one at a time, beating 5 minutes after each addition. Turn into pie shell and chill 1 or 2 hours. Serve with whipped cream or ice cream on top.

Google News Archive
20 May 1968, Toledo (OH) Blade, pg. 18, col. 4:
French Silk Chocolate Pie
1 stick butter
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 square chocolate, melted and cooled
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs
Baked pie shell
Cream butter, and gradually add sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, until sugar is dissolved. This takes a half hour. Add chocolate and vanilla. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating 10 minutes after each addition. Pour into baked and cooled pie shell. Refrigerate at least 3 hours until set. Garnish with whipped cream and walnut halves. To make a nut crust, substitute 1/2 cup ground walnuts for 1 tablespoon shortening in regulsr pie crust recipe.

Google News Archive
29 January 1985, Tri-City Herald (Pasco, Kennewick, Richland, WA), pg. C6, cols. 1-3:
Chocolate pie a winner with dessert fan
By CECILY BROWNSTONE
Associated Press Food Editor
DEAR CECILY: I’ve enjoyed French Silk Chocolate Pie several times in restaurants, but I’ve never been able to obtain the recipe. Do you have it?—DESSERT FAN.

DEAR DESSERT FAN: The recipe for French Silk Chocolate Pie first appeared in 1951, when it won $1,000 in a bake-off contest. The prize-winner was Mrs. Kendall Cooper of Silver Springs, Md. Nowadays, Mrs. Cooper lives in Kensington, Md., and is personal secretary to a U.S. senator.

We tried the original 1951 bake-off recipe and found its directions were excellent. C.B.

FRENCH SILK CHOCOLATE PIE
1/2 cup butter, cut into eight equal pats
3/4 cup sugar
1 square (one ounce) unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 large eggs
1 eight inch bakery pastry shell
Whipped cream (for garnish)

Tortefeaster
January 16, 2011
The Label Says “French Silk,” But This Pie is All-American
It was in 1951 that Betty Cooper won the third annual Pillsbury Bake-Off contest for home cooks with her now-classic recipe for the Chocolate French silk pie.
(...)
Nothing I found explains how the pie came to be known as “French Silk”–indeed, Betty Cooper is an elusive and mysterious past Bake-Off winner unlike others who have been featured in Pillsbury Bake-Off Contest cookbook profiles. My guess is that the texture of the pie is what prompted this descriptor. When made correctly, it is luxurious and lustrous and, well…silky . Maybe Betty Cooper’s name for her pie was aspirational, invoking the French fashion house of Hermès and its trademark scarves.

Serious Eats
Pie of the Week: French Silk Chocolate
Posted by Lauren Weisenthal, July 14, 2011 at 10:00 AM
French. Silk. Chocolate. Pie. These are four of the sexiest words in the English language, and sexy is the best single word I can think of to describe this decadent, classic dessert. Perhaps it’s the way that billows of whipped cream and flirtatious chocolate curls coyly reveal just a hint of the luscious chocolate filling that lies beneath. Or the smooth, unctuous chocolate filling that eases the fork down into a flaky all-butter crust.

It’s all about the chocolate, so be sure to select the best one possible. For a filling that is airy like a mousse but also dense like a truffle, you’ll want to use chocolate with a cacao content in the 58-71% range. Anything higher won’t contain enough fat to achieve the silky, creamy texture, and using milk chocolate (lower percentages) would cause you to lose the rich chocolate flavor and color.

The secret to this pie’s rich and airy texture is that it contains sabayon; a foamy mixture of whipped egg yolks, water, and sugar, that have been whisked over a double boiler until it reaches 160 degrees Fahrenheit.

(Trademark)
Word Mark FRENCH SILK
Goods and Services IC 030. US 046. G & S: ice cream. FIRST USE: 19920403. FIRST USE IN COMMERCE: 19920403
Mark Drawing Code (1) TYPED DRAWING
Serial Number 74250766
Filing Date February 28, 1992
Current Filing Basis 1A
Original Filing Basis 1B
Published for Opposition July 21, 1992
Registration Number 1766874
Registration Date April 20, 1993
Owner (REGISTRANT) Dreyer’s Grand Ice Cream, Inc. CORPORATION DELAWARE 5929 College Avenue Oakland CALIFORNIA 94618
(LAST LISTED OWNER) SOCIETE DES PRODUITS NESTLE, S.A. CORPORATION SWITZERLAND CASE POSTALE 353 1800 VEVEY SWITZERLAND 0
Assignment Recorded ASSIGNMENT RECORDED
Attorney of Record JOHANNA F SISTEK
Disclaimer NO CLAIM IS MADE TO THE EXCLUSIVE RIGHT TO USE “SILK” APART FROM THE MARK AS SHOWN
Type of Mark TRADEMARK
Register PRINCIPAL
Affidavit Text SECT 15. SECT 8 (6-YR). SECTION 8(10-YR) 20030308.
Renewal 1ST RENEWAL 20030308
Live/Dead Indicator LIVE

(Trademark)
Word Mark FRENCH SILK
Goods and Services IC 030. US 046. G & S: Coffee. FIRST USE: 19950601. FIRST USE IN COMMERCE: 19950601
Mark Drawing Code (1) TYPED DRAWING
Serial Number 75370167
Filing Date October 8, 1997
Current Filing Basis 1A
Original Filing Basis 1A
Published for Opposition July 28, 1998
Registration Number 2198403
Registration Date October 20, 1998
Owner (REGISTRANT) Executive Coffee Service CORPORATION OKLAHOMA 6239 E. 15th Tulsa OKLAHOMA 74112
Type of Mark TRADEMARK
Register PRINCIPAL
Affidavit Text SECT 8 (6-YR).
Live/Dead Indicator LIVE

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityFood/Drink • (0) Comments • Tuesday, December 13, 2011 • Permalink