Pastry cream, or creme patissiere, is a silky smooth staple in pastry desserts making it the perfect filling for eclairs, cream puffs and fruit tarts.
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When I first started blogging, I was a dry sponge ready to absorb everything and anything food related. When my kids were babies, I was parked on the couch with a sleeping tot and watching Sara Moulton make soup or Emeril Lagesse make tiramisu.
I also collected many cookbooks, too, written by chefs, bloggers and even celebrities. Most celebrity cookbooks are actually written and developed by talented chefs. But one celebrity cookbook that I still covet today is Sophia Loren’s Recipes & Memories.
First published in 1998, Ms. Loren taught me how to cook Italian food. The food pictures in her cookbook made my mouth water. Her stories about her friends and family made me smile.
I have made almost every single recipe in her book. One of my favorite recipes is her Vanilla Pastry Cream.
Why this recipe is so great
Pastry cream is one of those core recipes in the pastry world. It is not quite a custard, which is thicker, but it is thicker than a cream sauce.
You can pipe pastry cream inside cream puff dough and eclairs. It is use spread it in a tart shell to provide a base for a fruit tart. For an even simpler yet elegant dessert, serve with fresh seasonal fruit and berries.
The longer you cook the pastry cream, the thicker it gets so you control the final texture you want. You do need to keep an eye on the cream while it is simmering so it doesn’t turn lumpy. But it is not difficult or require any complicated cooking skills. Just a watchful eye and a whisk.
Ingredients you need
- Egg Yolks: Pastry cream’s richness comes from egg yolks. Large eggs are used in this recipe.
- Whole Milk: Pastry cream is not a low fat dessert! The fat in the milk and eggs provides the rich and creamy texture.
- Granulated Sugar: Granulated sugar is used to sweeten this recipe not powdered.
- Vanilla Extract: The primary flavor in this cream is vanilla, so be sure to use a high quality vanilla extract. You can also use other extracts, like almond.
- Flour: Some recipes use cornstarch to thicken the pastry cream, but this recipe uses all purpose flour.
1. In a saucepan over medium-high heat warm milk and vanilla extract until just before the boiling point.
2. In a large bowl whisk egg yolks and sugar together until pale yellow.
3. Whisk in all purpose flour until just combined.
3. Continue whisking and slowly pour the hot milk into the egg mixture. Do this a little at a time, so as not to curdle the eggs.
4. Pour mixture back into the saucepan and slowly bring it close to the boiling point, stirring constantly. Do not let it boil or the eggs will curdle and you will have a lumpy sauce. When pudding has thickened, remove from heat and allow to cool 10 minutes.
5. Place a piece of parchment paper on the surface of the sauce to prevent a skin from forming and cool to room temperature. Chill in the refrigerator for 3 hours or until ready to serve.
Expert Tips and Recipe FAQS
The key to making homemade puddings, custards and creams is patience. You want to heat everything over medium heat because you don’t want it to boil or curdle. You need to whisk regularly to keep the mixture smooth.
This might sound like a lot, but honestly it is fairly easy to whip up.
If you use fresh and newly purchased ingredients, pasty cream can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 7 days. Remember, eggs and milk are perishables and have expiration dates.
- Vanilla Pastry Cream
- 2 cups milk
- 1 ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 6 egg yolks
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- ¼ cup all purpose flour, sifted
- In a saucepan over medium-high heat warm milk to just before the boiling point.
- Remove from heat and stir in vanilla extract.
- In a large bowl whisk egg yolks and sugar together until pale yellow.
- Whisk in all-purpose flour.
- Continue whisking and slowly pour the hot milk into the egg mixture. Do this a little at a time, so as not to curdle the eggs.
Pour mixture back into the saucepan and slowly bring it close to the boiling point, stirring constantly. Do not let it boil or the eggs will curdle and you will have a lumpy sauce.
- When pudding has thickened, remove from heat and allow to cool 10 mins.
- Place a piece of parchment paper on the surface of the sauce to prevent a skin from forming and cool to room temperature.
- Chill in the refrigerator for 3 hours or until ready to serve.
Pastry cream can be use with fresh fruit, a filling for a fruit tart, or piped into cream puffs and eclairs.
Serving Size:¼ cup
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 131Total Fat: 4gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 109mgSodium: 73mgCarbohydrates: 21gFiber: 0gSugar: 15gProtein: 4g
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