Crème pâtissière, also known as pastry cream, is a rich and creamy custard filling that’s used in a variety of desserts like cream puffs, éclairs, fruit tarts, and more. It’s simple to make and adds a luscious, sweet layer to your baked goods. Here’s a recipe for thick homemade crème pâtissière:
- 2 cups whole milk
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 4 large egg yolks
- 1/4 cup cornstarch
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract (or 1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped)
- A pinch of salt
- Prepare the Milk Mixture:
- In a medium saucepan, combine the whole milk and half of the granulated sugar (1/4 cup). Heat the mixture over medium heat until it’s hot but not boiling. Stir occasionally to dissolve the sugar. Remove the saucepan from heat just before it reaches a boil.
- Prepare the Egg Yolk Mixture:
- In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, the remaining granulated sugar (1/4 cup), cornstarch, and a pinch of salt until the mixture is pale and slightly thickened.
- Temper the Egg Yolk Mixture:
- While whisking continuously, slowly pour the hot milk mixture into the egg yolk mixture. This process, known as tempering, prevents the eggs from curdling when exposed to the hot liquid.
- Combine and Cook:
- Pour the combined mixture back into the saucepan. If using a vanilla bean, add it now. Place the saucepan over medium heat and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens and comes to a boil. This should take about 5-7 minutes.
- Remove from Heat and Add Vanilla:
- Remove the saucepan from heat once the custard has thickened. If you used a vanilla bean, remove it at this point and scrape the seeds into the custard. If you didn’t use a vanilla bean, stir in the vanilla extract.
- Strain the Custard (Optional):
- To ensure a smooth and creamy texture, you can strain the custard through a fine-mesh sieve into a clean bowl. This step helps remove any lumps or bits of egg that may have formed during cooking.
- Cool and Use:
- Allow the crème pâtissière to cool to room temperature. You can cover it with plastic wrap, pressing the wrap directly onto the surface of the custard to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate until you’re ready to use it.
Crème pâtissière is a versatile filling that can be used in a wide range of desserts. It’s perfect for filling cream puffs, éclairs, fruit tarts, or layering between cake layers. It can also be flavored with chocolate, coffee, or other extracts to suit your dessert needs. Enjoy your homemade pastry cream!