Whenever a recipe called for pastry cream I used run for the hills and it was all because everybody told me how hard it was to make. That’s why for the longest time I never made any kind of cream pie, eclair or Napoleon pastry, because it meant that I had to make the impossible, the pastry cream.
That all changed the moment I learned that in order to get it right I had to whisk everything constantly to avoid cooking the egg yolks. All of a sudden everything made sense and I started making pastry cream whenever I could.
So yes, that’s pretty much the secret to a great pastry cream. If you want to make it even smoother, you can strain it at the end while pouring it into the container where you’ll be storing it but I find that that is barely necessary.
The basic recipe usually calls for vanilla as flavoring but feel free to add any flavor of your choice. That means you can use your favorite extract like almond, coconut, mint, etc.. You can also add cocoa powder to get a delicious chocolate flavor or even coffee or peanut butter. The choices are endless.
- 2 cups (480 ml) whole milk
- ¼ cup (50 g) white granulated sugar
- ¼ cup (30 g) cornstarch
- 1/3 cup (66 g) white granulated sugar
- Pinch salt
- 2 large egg yolks
- 1 large egg
- 2 tbsp (28 g) unsalted butter
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- Place milk and ¼ cup of sugar in a medium saucepan and bring to a slow simmer over medium heat. Do not let it boil.
- In a small bowl mix the cornstarch, 1/3 cup of sugar and salt.
- In a separate bowl beat the egg yolks and large egg. Add the cornstarch mixture and mix well.
- Once the milk is hot enough, slowly start adding it to the egg mixture while you’re constantly whisking. This will prevent the eggs from cooking instantly.
- Place this mixture back into the sauce pan and keep whisking until it starts to boil. Remove from the heat and add the butter and vanilla extract.
- Pour it into a heat resistant container and place plastic wrap right on the surface of the pastry cream to prevent a “skin” from forming. Refrigerate it until it’s completely chilled before using. If for some reason you see lumps in the pastry cream, you can pass it through a strainer before storing in the fridge. This pastry cream will stay fresh for about 5 days refrigerated.