Remember the good old days of throwing a handful of mud on a plate and trying to convince your little siblings to take a bite? Anyone? No? Anyway … Then there were the mud pies at birthday parties: crumbled Oreos topped with chocolate pudding and whipped cream, with gummy worms sticking out of it. And then, as we matured, we were introduced to French silk pie: a buttery, flaky pie crust filled with chocolate pudding and topped with freshly whipped cream. This recipe is inspired by all of those tasty iterations of mud pie throughout the years, but healthier — so you can have your pie without regret.
The benefits of this pie lie in its nutrient-dense ingredients, which are good for you in moderation. The crust is made with blended oats, almonds, cacao powder and dates as a base, and tastes a lot like a brownie crust when all is said and baked. The filling is a simple mix of cashew milk, maple syrup and cacao powder. Arrowroot flour thickens the mixture to a pudding-like consistency. We top it all off with some whipped coconut cream and dark chocolate shavings for a vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free, refined-sugar-free dessert.
Dessert doesn’t get much healthier than that unless it’s fruit — and we all remember how we felt about the neighbor who put a box of raisins in our Halloween candy bag assuming we would find that acceptable (permanent side-eye). But back to the fun stuff.
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3 ½ tablespoons arrowroot flour (can sub 5 tablespoons cornstarch)
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon salt
For the coconut whipped cream:
1 can (14 ounces) coconut cream, refrigerated overnight and separated from liquid
1 tablespoon maple syrup
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 dark (vegan) chocolate bar for topping
Begin by heating the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Using a food processor or blender, pulse together the almonds, chia seeds, and oats into a course meal. There shouldn’t be any large chunks of almond visible, but it shouldn’t be overblended into a flour either. Pour the meal into medium bowl and set aside. Using the same blender, blend together the remaining crust ingredients (dates, cashew milk, cacao powder, coconut oil, baking soda, and salt) until smooth. Add the blended mixture to the oat and almond meal and stir until fully incorporated. Add the dough to a greased pie dish. Use a cake spatula to line the pan with the batter so that it forms a full pie crust. Place in the oven and bake for 20 minute, and then set aside to cool.
To make the filling, whisk all pudding ingredients in a saucepan thoroughly. Ingredients such as cacao powder and arrowroot flour are quite water-resistant, so you have to use some elbow grease here.
Then, place the saucepan over low heat for 5-10 minutes, whisking constantly until the mixture achieves a pudding-like consistency. When achieved, take the mixture off heat and allow to cool for five to 10 minutes.
While the pudding cools, return to your pie crust. After baking, it will have puffed up a bit because of the baking soda, so use your hands to press the crust flat to the shape of the pie dish. Pour the pudding mixture over the crust, and even it out with a cake spatula. Place the pie in the fridge for 10 to 15 minutes to set.
While the pie sets, make the topping. You should have refrigerated the coconut cream overnight, or for at least six hours. When you open it, it should have separated to a layer of liquid and a layer of hard cream. Tip: Open the coconut cream upside down, because then the liquid is usually sitting on top. Remove and discard the liquid, or set it aside to use in smoothies.
Add just the coconut cream to a large mixing bowl or the base of your stand mixer, along with vanilla extract and maple syrup. Mix it on high for about five minutes. It will look fully whipped after about two minutes, but the extra time will allow the cream to heat up a bit, making it easier to spread on the pie later.
Finally, remove the mud pie from the fridge and add the whipped coconut cream. Top it off with as many dark chocolate shavings as your heart desires. (Use a potato peeler or the flat end of a box grater to make the shavings). Serve chilled, or keep covered and refrigerated for up to five days.