crème pâtissière (pastry cream filling)

  • Currently 4/5
futzing with this recipe to find a filling for choux pastries...and anything else needing a good dose of creamy nyumminess. this is a lighter and less custardy version of the filling due to the folding in of the whipped cream.
pastry cream
1 c + 6 tbsp (11 oz) milk
1 c (8 oz) cream
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
1/2 c (4 oz) sugar
8 (about 4 oz) large egg yolks
6 tbsp (1.75 oz / 48 g) cornstarch
3/4 tbsp (3/8 oz / 10 ml) liqueur (Grand Marnier, Brandy, Kirsch)
4 tbsp (2 oz) unsalted butter
whipped cream (for a lighter crème pâtissière)
1 c (8 oz) heavy cream
1 1/2 tsp sugar, or more
1. split the vanilla bean in half lengthwise and scrape the seeds into a saucepan along with the milk and cream, setting aside the 6 tablespoons of milk; add the bean pod as well.
2. in a heavy-bottomed saucepan, bring the milk and vanilla to a simmer, then set aside for 15 minutes to infuse the vanilla flavor into the milk.
3. fill a large bowl with a 50-50 mixture of ice and water. combine the cornstarch with the remaining milk and stir to disperse the cornstarch.
4. in a medium-sized stainless steel bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar. gradually whisk in the milk/cream mixture.
5. through a strainer, pour egg-milk mixture back into saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium-low flame. whisk in the cornstarch-milk mixture, stirring vigorously for 1-2 minutes, or until cream becomes very thick.
6. immediately remove from heat and set in ice water bath; whisk in the liqueur and continue to stir until the mixture has cooled slightly but is still warm enough to melt the butter. add the butter and stir until it's completely incorporated.
7. cover the surface with plastic wrap (to ensure that a "skin" does not form on top of the cream) and cool. can be refrigerated for 3 days.
8. just before you're ready to use, whip the heavy cream with the sugar, until you get soft peaks. whisk the pastry cream until smooth in a separate bowl, and then, with a wooden spoon or a spatula, fold in whipped cream.
possibly test to see how it works with 3 whole eggs instead or variations, thereof. possibly have to whip sugar and egg until pale and a bit thickened, first.

tip for lumpy cream: reserve 1/4 cup of the cold milk to add to cornstarch mixture before adding scalded milk. if you whisk in milk first into a smooth, lumpless mixture, ensures that the flour is evenly distributed, decreasing the chances that you will get lumps.

according to Francisco Migoya, the key is to bring milk to a rolling boil, not just scalding. for this, you will need a tall pot as the milk will rise and bubble up out of smaller pots. then you proceed to dump boiling milk into egg/cornstarch mixture (this streamlines steps even more by combining the yolk with the cornstarch), while whisking furiously, to sustain a smooth, lumpless pastry cream. recipe in ratios here.

sub about 2-3 tsp of vanilla extract for the vanilla bean and add after you remove from heat, the same time that you add the liqueur. no need to cook the vanilla flavor out of your dessert!
Cuisine   FrenchDish   Dessert
Cooking Time   less than 15 minutes 
Features   Vegetarian

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