FROSTINGS, CONDIMENTS & SAUCES

Creme Patissiere (Pastry Cream)

May 1, 2021

Homemade thick and creamy custard that is used as a filling for pastries, tarts and more.

If you’ve loved French pastries, you are likely to love this creme patissiere. From cream puffs, éclairs to fruit tarts, creme patisserie is an incredibly basic yet versatile filling in French pastries and cuisine. For me, it’s like the oldest sister of all creams that you may find in many pastry shops.

 

CREME PATISSERIE

Creme patisserie, known as pastry creme in English is a sweet, thick and creamy custard-like filling that is commonly made of milk, egg and sugar. However, pastry cream is often thicker than other custards because of the addition of cornstarch or other thickening agents, which yields a perfect texture and consistency that can hold its shape. 

The most common flavor for this pastry cream is vanilla; however it can be flavored in various ways. You can add other flavorings such as cocoa powder, matcha powder, fruit puree, to add an extra flavor to this creme patisserie. 

CREME PATISSERIE INGREDIENTS

As this is a filling base for other deserts, its ingredients are quite simple. 

Sugar: Sugar not only acts as a sweetener in this pastry cream but also helps to slow down the rate in which the eggs start to become solid in the cooking process.

Egg yolks: Egg yolks will give flavors, nice color and provide creamy structure to creme patissiere. Replace egg yolks with whole eggs will result in less flavor and loose structure.

Whole milk: The optimal type of milk to use in making creme patissiere. However you can replace it with half and half or heavy cream for a lighter creme. 

Cornstarch: This will help thicken creme patissiere. This custard relies on both egg yolks and cornstarch to achieve the thick consistency.

Vanilla extract: Adds extra flavor to the custard. Substitute with vanilla bean or your choice of flavor extract.

 

HOW TO MAKE CREME PATISSERIE

Start off the process by whisking the egg yolks, sugar and vanilla in a medium bowl until it’s creamy and pale, then add in the cornstarch and mix. Set aside.

In a saucepan bring the milk to a simmer over medium heat. Once it reaches the simmering point, remove from the heat. Quickly and carefully pour half of the hot milk into the egg mixture while whisking constantly the egg mixture to prevent eggs from curdling. 

Pour the mixture back into the saucepan and return to medium heat, whisking constantly until mixture begins to thicken and comes to a boil. Remove from heat then stir in butter and whisk until completely melted and smooth.  Add any kind of flavorings as you wish at this point and keep whisking until they are all combined. If there are any big lumps remained, you can smooth out the cream by straining through a sieve to separate the clumps from the pastry cream. 

Cover the surface of the pastry cream with a plastic wrap to prevent a skin from forming. Let it cool and chill in the fridge  for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight.

SOME TIPS TO MAKE PERFECT CREME PATISSIERE

Tempering egg yolks. If you don’t want to end up with curdled/scrambled eggs in the creme, tempering egg yolks is helpful. Slowly pour half of hot milk into the egg mixture while whisking constantly then combine the tempered egg yolks with milk back to the saucepan and cook until it becomes thick. 

There is another way to make creme patisserie without having to temper egg yolks. All you will do is simply combine all of the cream’s ingredients while cold and heat them up together until thicken. By doing this, you don’t need to preheat the milk, neither temper egg yolks.

Add in flavorings. For powders such as cocoa powder, matcha powder or instant coffee powder, I would recommend using 1-2 teaspoons and heat together with milk. For fruit puree, add in after the cream has been removed from heat and still warm. 

Curdled eggs may result from not whisking constantly or failing to temper egg yolks (if you use the preheat milk method). Whisk constantly can prevent eggs from forming curdles. The other way to fix it is that you can strain custard through a sieve to remove any lumps remained in it.

Runny custard may come from removing from heat too soon, too little of cornstarch in the recipe. If a custard is too runny, bring it to a boil over medium heat and whisk until it’s thickened. Make sure that you use the right ratio of cornstarch and egg yolks to help the custard full set.

Creme Patissiere (Pastry Creme)

Homemade thick and creamy custard that is used as a filling for pastries, tarts and more.
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Course: Dessert
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Servings: 2 1/2 cups

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup (67g) granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons (23g) cornstarch
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 2 cups (480ml) whole milk
  • 2 tablespoons (28g) unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon (5ml) vanilla extract

Instructions

  • In a medium bowl, whisking the egg yolks, sugar, salt and vanilla until it’s creamy and pale, then add in the cornstarch and mix. Set aside.
  • In a saucepan bring the milk to a simmer over medium heat. Once it reaches the simmering point, remove from the heat. Quickly and carefully pour half of the hot milk into the egg mixture while whisking constantly the egg mixture to prevent eggs from curdling.
  • Pour the mixture back into the saucepan and cook over medium heat, whisking constantly until mixture begins to thicken and comes to a boil. Remove from heat then stir in butter and whisk until completely melted and smooth. If there are any big lumps remained, you can smooth out the cream by straining through a sieve to separate the clumps from the pastry cream.
  • Cover the surface of the pastry cream with a plastic wrap (press directly onto surface) to prevent a skin from forming. Let it cool and chill in the fridge  for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight.

Notes

Storing: Pastry cream can be stored in an airtight container, with plastic wrap placed directly on the surface, and refrigerated for up to 3 days. Whisk before using to get rid of any lumps.
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