Pastry Cream ~ This is a versatile custard that is sometimes used as a major component or as a base component to many desserts.
As a major component, pastry cream, serves as a filling for cakes, tarts, pate choux like profiteroles/cream puffs, éclairs, cannolis and other pastries. As a base component it is used in ice creams and souffles.
Versatile and easy to make, pastry cream can also take on many flavors by a simple infusion from extracts, flavored liqueurs, fruit purees, or other add-ins like chocolate at the very last stage.
Easy to make but quick to go wrong, pastry cream is all about technique. The key is to not let the eggs curdle. To prevent this make sure to constantly whisk the mixture. As important is making sure the last step, the water bath, is prepped and ready to go. The water bath will help reduce the residual heat and stop the cooking process once the pastry cream reaches readiness.
Basic Pastry Cream Elements:
- Basic Tools: Whisk, bowl, 2 saucepans, water bath (create one using a bowl, roasting pan or deep cake pan; just be sure to choose something large enough to hold ice and water as well as the saucepan used to make the pastry cream)
- How to store pastry cream: Place plastic wrap directly on surface and refrigerate for up to 3 days.
- How to re-heat pastry cream: Place pastry cream in a saucepan and bring it 200 degrees on an instant read thermometer. Properly made pastry cream should be able to hold its shape once cooled and appear thick and glossy almost pudding like in appearance.
- Pastry cream uses: Cakes, tarts, profiteroles/cream puffs, éclairs, cannolis and other pastries; ice cream and soufflé base
- 2 cup of whole milk
- ¼ cup cornstarch
- ½ cup plus 2 tablespoon sugar
- 1 large egg
- 3 large egg yolks
- Pinch of salt
- 4 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 2 teaspoon vanilla
- Combine cornstarch and ½ cup milk and stir to dissolve. Beat whole eggs and yolks into corn mixture; set aside. Prepare an ice bath; set aside.
- Combine remaining milk with sugar and salt in a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Remove sauce pan from heat and transfer mixture to a new pan to reduce any residual heat. Set aside and cool milk mixture for 5 minutes.
- Slowly add egg mixture into hot milk stirring constantly so the eggs do not curdle. Return mixture to stovetop and stir vigorously until mixture comes to a boil. Continue to stir until the whisk leaves a trail in the pastry cream, about 5-7 minutes. Once pastry cream reaches this stage, remove sauce pan from heat and stir in butter and vanilla extract. Transfer the saucepan to the ice bath. Stir occasionally until pastry cream is cool about 30 minutes.