Pastry Cream
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Pastry Cream, also known as crème patisserie, is a staple in pastry kitchens. It is used as a filling for tarts, pastries such as éclairs and Napoleons, cakes and other desserts such as a traditional Boston Cream Pie. Pastry Cream is rich cooked custard made with eggs, milk, sugar, flour or cornstarch for a thickener, and normally a vanilla bean for flavoring, then chilled before using. Pastry cream may also be flavored with other flavors such as chocolate, coffee, fruit purees, or liqueurs. Pastry Cream is best used within 3 days of preparation.
Recipe type: Dessert Cream
Pastry Cream:
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • ½ cup granulated sugar, divided
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
  • 5 large egg yolks
  • 2 cups milk (preferably whole milk)
  • ½ vanilla bean, split and scraped. Or, 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, room temperature
Pastry Cream:
  1. In a small mixing bowl, combine cornstarch, ¼ cup sugar, and salt; whisk together to mix. Set aside.
  2. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk the egg yolks, then add the cornstarch mixture and whisk until thoroughly blended. Set aside.
  3. In a medium, non-reactive, heavy-bottomed pan over medium heat, combine the milk, remaining ¼ cup sugar, vanilla bean, and scraped vanilla bean seeds. (If using vanilla extract in place of the vanilla bean do not add to the milk; instead the vanilla extract will be added after the cream has been cooked.) Bring the milk mixture to a simmer stirring constantly with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon, remove from the heat.
  4. Temper the eggs: Very slowly, in a thin stream, pour about ½ cup of the hot milk mixture into the beaten eggs while quickly whisking the two together with a wire whisk. Return the egg mixture back to the rest of the hot milk, pouring back slowly while quickly whisking the two mixtures together. Return to medium-low heat, stirring constantly with a rubber spatula in a figure eights pattern around the edge of the pan and into the center, making sure to scrape the rubber spatula across the bottom of the pan. Continue to cook until the mixture just comes to a boil. Continue to cook while stirring constantly for an additional 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Tip: A heat-resistant rubber spatula is best for stirring because it can scrape the entire bottom of the pot to help prevent the egg from clumping together and coagulating.
  5. Finishing the pastry cream: Remove and discard the vanilla bean if using. Or, if using vanilla extract, add it now. Also add the butter and stir until melted and completely blended. Let Pastry Cream cool to room temperature, stirring frequently while cooling. Or, Pour the Pastry Cream into a medium-sized bowl and place a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface while the cream is cooling to prevent a skin from forming. The pastry cream will thicken as it cools.
  6. The pastry cream can be used immediately or cooled to room temperature and refrigerated for up to 3 days.
Recipe Notes
Equipment: Medium Heavy Pan Method: Stovetop Yield: 2½ Cups Storage: Refrigerate

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