Rich and creamy Vanilla Pastry Cream is a type of custard filling used in many French desserts like eclairs, choux buns, and other pastries. Once you learn how to make it, you’ll find any excuse to make it again and again.
If you enjoy making desserts, pastry cream (or crème pâtissière) is definitely something worth knowing how to make. If you ever need a delicious, silky filling for pastries, tarts, donuts, or other treats, there’s no better filling than this classic French custard.
It seems almost everyone who makes pastry cream has their own special way. I do, too, and my goal is always to make things easy. At a basic level, vanilla pastry cream is a rich custard thickened with eggs and cornstarch. The process is easy but does require full attention.
Follow my instructions and tips, and I can promise you perfectly thick, creamy, and rich vanilla pastry cream. It will take any dessert you add it to, to a whole new level.
Table of Contents
- Whipping cream
- Granulated sugar
- Large egg
- Sifted cornstarch
How to Make It
For this recipe, you will need a medium-sized pot. Before you do anything, rinse it with cold water. This will prevent the milk from burning and sticking on the bottom of the pot when you cook it.
Once you’ve rinsed the pot, combine part of the milk, cream, and sugar and bring it to a boil. Stir occasionally as the mixture heats up.
In a medium-sized bowl, whisk the egg, cornstarch, and the rest of the milk. Carefully pour half of the boiling milk mixture into the egg mixture. This process is called “tempering” and will prevent the eggs from scrambling.
Pour the mixture in the bowl into the pot and stir. Add the vanilla and salt and bring it back to a boil.
Stir the custard continuously as it cooks. Once it’s thickened, transfer it to a clean bowl.
Cover the pastry cream with plastic wrap, so it’s touching the surface. This will prevent a skin from developing as it cools. Cool the cream in the refrigerator. Once it’s cold, it’s ready to use.
How to Use It
Once chilled, the pastry cream will be firm enough to pipe or spread. To use it as a filling, transfer it to a piping bag. Here are different ways to use it:
- Pipe it into chocolate eclairs.
- Using it as a filling for donuts like Boston cream donuts or maple bars.
- It is wonderful to use in a homemade fruit tart.
- Make a batch of choux buns and pipe each one with some of the pastry cream.
- You can also use it to make breakfast pastries like Danishes.
Yes, it’s a type of custard. Custard is a cold and creamy filling or topping that is made with eggs.
They are similar but not the same thing because pudding is not always made with eggs.
Sometimes people strain it in case there are any small pieces of cooked eggs in it. I don’t find a need to do this if you properly temper the eggs.
Vanilla pastry cream will keep for up to five days in the refrigerator.
Why don’t you treat yourself soon and use this homemade pastry cream to make a decadent dessert? Once you try it, you’ll find all kinds of ways to use it.
Vanilla Pastry Cream
- ½ cup milk (divided)
- ½ cup whole/heavy/whipping cream
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- 1 large egg
- 2¼ tablespoons cornstarch (sifted)
- ½ teaspoon vanilla
- 1 pinch salt
- Rinse a medium pot with cold water before adding the liquid, this keeps the milk from burning and sticking to the bottom of the pot.
- To the pot add ⅓ cup + 1 tablespoon of milk (90 grams), the cream and sugar, bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.
- In a medium bowl whisk together the egg, corn starch and remaining milk.
- Add half the boiling milk mixture to the egg mixture and whisk to combine, then pour into the remaining milk mixture in the pot, with the vanilla and salt. Bring it back to a boil and stir constantly until thickened, it won't take long to thicken. Pour into a clean bowl, cover with plastic wrap, make sure it touches the top of cream (this keeps the cream from developing a skin). Refrigerate until cooled completely, approximately 2 hours. Enjoy!