Pastry cream is so versatile and amazingly delicious! I’d describe it as kind of a cross between a custard and a pudding, thickened with egg yolks and cornstarch. It’s so silky smooth, velvety, creamy and bursting with vanilla flavor lending itself to so many different desserts!
What Is It Used for?
It’s a must try recipe! Use it as a filling for
- Cream Puffs
- Cakes such as Boston Cream Pie
- Or eat it by the spoonful…my favorite!
Other Uses For Pastry Cream
Fold in whipped cream to make a Diplomat cream: 1 part whipped cream and 1 part pastry cream. It’s fluffier, has a mellow flavor and is just amazingly delicious.
Whip up a mousseline: 2 parts pastry cream to 1 part creamed butter. Also known as a German buttercream. It’s slightly sweet and creamy. However, I used to work in a bakery, and we used 2 parts pastry cream to one part buttercream icing. Absolutely amazing. Still creamy, but much sweeter! We mainly used it to fill cakes.
Flavor the pastry cream for some extra yum. Add chocolate, jams, peanut butter, or extracts. Get creative! I love making different flavored eclairs.
Let’s Start Cooking Pastry Cream
It’s not hard to make, but it’s kind of finicky since you’re dealing with eggs and boiling hot liquid.
It’s just a few ingredients for so much deliciousness! Milk, heavy cream, sugar, eggs, vanilla, butter and cornstarch. Mix just perfectly and it creates the most wonderful sweet treat.
To start, in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat add the milk and sugar. Heat until it just comes to a boil. Watch it so it doesn’t boil over the pot! In a separate bowl, add the egg, egg yolks and cornstarch. (A side note: if you’d like a thicker, more stable pastry cream, you can add 1 tablespoon more cornstarch) Mix well until it’s smooth.
Here’s the tricky part. Tempering the milk and the egg mixture. If you pour the egg mixture straight into the hot milk, you’ll end up with little bits of cooked egg making for a chunky, unpleasant cream. To avoid this, temper the milk into the egg mixture by pouring a small amount of milk into the eggs while whisking vigorously. Then pour in one more small amount of milk and whisk again.
Now that the eggs are brought up in temperature, pour it into the saucepan and continuously whisk, scraping the bottom and edges of the pan while bringing the pastry cream to a boil again.
Don’t miss a corner! It’ll become thick, but keep stirring! After about 3-5 minutes, immediately take it off the heat and add the vanilla and butter. Completely incorporate and pour into a shallow bowl.
You can choose to strain it if it’s not completely smooth. Cool down. Place plastic wrap directly on the pastry cream surface so it doesn’t form a skin on it. If that does happen, just whisk it again and it should come back to life. Place into the refrigerator and get ready to indulge!
What Vanilla Do I Use?
Using a vanilla bean is most optimal, but don’t always have one on hand? I usually never have any! I know just buying one is crazy expensive, but you can certainly use vanilla bean paste (my favorite) or vanilla extract. It tastes just as amazing!
A vanilla, creamy, silky smooth, crazy delicious pudding/custard mostly used as a filling for pastries such as eclairs, cream puffs and cakes.
- 1/2 Cup Heavy Cream
- 1 ½ Cups Milk
- 2 Tbsp Cornstarch
- 1/2 Cup Granulated Sugar
- 2 Egg Yolks
- 1 Egg
- 3 Tbsp Butter
- 1 Tbsp Vanilla Extract Or 1 vanilla bean
- 1/2 tsp Salt
In a medium sized sauce pan over medium high heat, bring to a boil the heavy cream, milk and sugar.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg, egg yolks, cornstarch and salt until smooth.
After the milk has come to a boil, temper it into the egg/cornstarch mixture. To do this, add about 1/2 cup of the milk into the eggs while mixing vigorously. Add another 1/2 cup while mixing again. This will bring the egg mixture up in temperate so the eggs won’t curdle as easily when added back into the milk.
Pour the entire egg mixture back into the sauce pan and bring to another boil. Continuously stir so it doesn’t curdle and burn. About 3-5 minutes.
Immediately take off the heat and add the butter and vanilla. Stir until the butter is melted and incorporated completely.
Pour into a shallow dish and cover with plastic wrap, sitting directly on top of the pastry cream so it won’t develop an unappetizing skin. Cool in the refrigerator for about two hours or until completely cool.
Other Delicious Recipes
Try out this recipe and you’ll be hooked! Ahh…it’s so crazy delicious! I just can’t describe it to justice, so while many of us are stuck at home during this crazy quarantine time, start baking!
Try out some of my other favorite recipes that can used as fillings or eaten “just because!”
Keep it Sweet!
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