agitation · baking · pastry cream · pastry school · recipes · versatile

Versatility, thy name is pastry cream

Until I went to pastry school, I never fully appreciated pastry cream. It is such a simple thing to make. The thing that makes it great, besides the taste, is that pastry cream can be used in a variety of different applications and can be customized by adding various flavorings.
Pastry cream can be used as a filling in cakes, cupcakes, doughnuts, pies, tarts, and the list goes on and on and on. You can flavor it with just about anything your imagination comes up with; vanilla bean, chocolate, coffee, mango are just a few of the reincarnated forms of this humble custard-like filling.
The base is made up of milk, egg yolks, sugar, and cornstarch. To this, you, can add any number of flavorings you desire.  Today’s post incorporates vanilla bean paste (you can scrape the seeds of a vanilla bean, but buying them gets expensive) to make a luscious and creamy variation of pastry cream.
I love using pastry cream as a base for a fruit tart. I think it is my favorite way to eat it. It doesn’t hurt that I feel like I’m eating something “healthy” with all the fruit piled on top. Another way I use pastry cream is as the filling for Boston cream pie doughnuts. It is oh-so-divine! My dad and I love these doughnuts. We fight over every last morsel. No joke.
No matter how you use pastry cream, you definitely get your money’s worth. The only problem is that there are too many options as to how you use it.
img_3698Here’s the recipe:  Vanilla Bean Pastry Cream (by Naseem)
Yield:  about 2 1/2 cups
2 1/4 cup 2% milk, divided
4 egg yolks
2/3 cup sugar, divided
1/3 cup cornstarch
1 Tbsp vanilla bean paste (or seeds from 1 vanilla bean)
1.  Whisk 1/2 cup milk with egg yolks, 1/3 cup sugar, and cornstarch in a medium bowl.
2. In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, add remaining milk, vanilla bean paste, and remaining sugar. Place on stove over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Do not stir.
3. Once it begins to simmer, whisk it to combine and remove from heat. Add about 1/4 cup of the hot milk mixture to the egg yolk mixture, whisking to combine and temper the eggs. Add tempered egg mixture to hot milk mixture and mix to combine.
4. Return saucepan to stove over medium heat, bringing mixture to a simmer and whisking constantly until it begins to thicken.
5. Remove from heat. Whisk a few times until the pastry cream is smooth. Pour into a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Make sure the wrap touches the surface of the cream to avoid skin from forming.
6. Place in fridge to cool for at least 6 hours. Pastry cream can be stored for up to 3 days well-wrapped in the fridge.

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