Pastry cream is the iconic custard you use to fill eclairs, cream puffs and fruit tarts. It’s super easy to make but beyond delicious so be forewarned. Once you try this recipe you might become addicted!
Is Pastry Cream and Custard the Same?
Pastry cream is thicker than custard because there’s more starch. In some ways they can be interchangeable but pastry cream is better for tart and eclair fillings. Pastry cream is also more stable at room temperature.
What is Pastry Cream Used For?
You can put pastry cream in EVERYTHING! It’s great in eclairs and cream puffs, as the base of fruit tarts, cake fillings, and in any number of other desserts.
While eclairs are typically long bars you can pipe them in any shape! I made a batch of donut eclairs and they were basically the best thing ever!!!! You can see them waiting to be filled in the photo above.
A Few Notes
- Using the corn starch is a bit of a cheat, you can reduce or omit it if you’re feeling the brave traditionalist.
- You can fold melted and cooled chocolate into this or add a fruit reduction, so many options!
- This custard can be made up to 24 hours in advance. Refrigerate until 1 hour before using. I whipped some cream up and folded it into my chilled custard to lighten the filling up, this is now called Ambassador Cream.
Steps to Make Pastry Cream
- In a medium saucepan, heat the milk and vanilla bean by bringing it to a boil over medium heat. Immediately turn off the heat then set it aside to infuse for 15 minutes.
- Separate the egg whites and yolks into a separate bowls. Don’t throw out those egg whites, you can use them to make many tasty things! Put the yolks into a larger bowl
- Pour in 2/3 cup sugar in with the egg yolks and whisk them together until it’s a light and fluffy mixture.
- Now add the cornstarch and mix vigorously. You don’t want any lumps remaining! You can also sift it into the bowl to help prevent those lumps.
- Whisk in 1/4 cup of the hot milk mixture until it is incorporated then mix the remaining hot milk mixture in. Pour the mixture back into the saucepan and cook over medium-high heat, whisking continuously until thickened and slowly boiling. Now go ahead and remove from the heat and stir in the butter.
- Let it cool slightly then pour it into a bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, lightly pressing the plastic against the surface to prevent a skin from forming. Chill it for at least 2 hours or until ready to serve.
If you’ve tried this pastry cream then don’t forget to rate the recipe and let me know how you got on in the comments below, I love hearing from you!
This silky, perfectly sweet vanilla custard is perfect for filling eclairs, cream puffs, tarts and just about anything else!
- 2 cups whole milk 473mL
- 1/2 vanilla bean split lengthwise
- 6 egg yolks
- 2/3 cup sugar 135g
- 1/4 cup cornstarch 37g
- 1 tbsp unsalted butter 15g, cold
- In a medium saucepan, heat the milk and vanilla bean to a boil over medium heat.
- Immediately turn off the heat and set aside to infuse for 15 minutes.
- In a bowl, whisk the egg yolks and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the cornstarch and whisk vigorously until no lumps remain.
- Whisk in 1/4 cup of the hot milk mixture until incorporated. Whisk in the remaining hot milk mixture, reserving the saucepan.
- Pour the mixture through a strainer back into the saucepan. Cook over medium-high heat, whisking constantly, until thickened and slowly boiling.
Remove from the heat and stir in the butter. Let cool slightly.
Cover with plastic wrap, lightly pressing the plastic against the surface to prevent a skin from forming.
- Chill at least 2 hours or until ready to serve. The custard can be made up to 24 hours in advance. Refrigerate until 1 hour before using. I whipped some cream up and folded it into my chilled custard to lighten the filling up, this is now technically called Ambassador Cream.
This recipe makes a good amount of custard but you can make it go further and lighten it up by folding in whipped cream. The whipped cream can be sweetened or just plain. This dreamy combination is called diplomat cream and it's quite lovely.
Try incorporating melted and cooled chocolate for an indulgent variation.
You can also add passion fruit juice for an amazing tropical flavor, or you can add in some other fruit reduction.
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