Pastry cream, also called Creme Patissiere, is a rich, thick and creamy custard made from a mixture of milk, eggs, sugar, flour and cornstarch (corn flour). Vanilla, liqueurs, chocolate, coffee and fruit purees are some complementary flavorings that can be added to the cream.
If a lighter pastry cream is desired, a little whipped cream can be folded into the pastry cream once it has thickened and cooled.
It has a wonderfully smooth and creamy texture that is a staple in pastry kitchens. It is used to fill all sorts of cakes, tarts, cream puffs, eclairs, Napoleons, and other pastries.
Pastry Cream Recipe:
1 1/4 cups (300 ml) milk (whole or 2%)
1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise or 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
For lighter pastry cream fold in 1/2 cup (120 ml) softly whipped cream to cooled pastry cream.
For Chocolate pastry cream add 2 ounces (60 grams) of finely grated bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate to the hot pastry cream. Stir until melted.
For Coffee pastry cream add 1/2 – 1 tablespoon instant espresso or coffee powder to the hot milk.
For Raspberry pastry cream add 1/4 cup (60 ml) (or to taste) raspberry sauce to pastry cream.
Pastry Cream: In a medium-sized heatproof bowl, mix the sugar and egg yolks together. (Do let the mixture sit too long or you will get pieces of egg forming.) Sift the flour and cornstarch (corn flour) together and then add to the egg mixture, mixing until you get a smooth paste.
Meanwhile, in a saucepan bring the milk and vanilla bean just to boiling (just until milk starts to foam up.) Remove from heat and add slowly to egg mixture, whisking constantly to prevent curdling. (If you get a few pieces of egg (curdling) in the mixture, pour through a strainer.) Remove vanilla bean, scrape out seeds, and add the seeds to the egg mixture. (The vanilla bean can be washed and dried and placed in your sugar bowl to give the sugar a vanilla flavor.) Then pour the egg mixture into a medium saucepan and cook over medium heat until boiling, whisking constantly. When it boils, whisk mixture constantly for another 30 – 60 seconds until it becomes thick. Remove from heat and immediately whisk in the liqueur (if using). (Stir in vanilla extract if using instead of a vanilla bean.) Pour into a clean bowl and immediately cover the surface with plastic wrap to prevent a crust from forming. Cool to room temperature. If not using right away refrigerate until needed, up to 3 days. Whisk or stir before using to get rid of any lumps that may have formed.
Makes about 1 cup (240 ml). Preparation time 20 minutes.