Pastry Cream and Crème Légère are key recipes to master when taking your home baking to the next level. Pastry cream, also known as crème pâtissière, is a thick custard that can be used in many desserts such as éclairs, cream puffs, fruit tarts, cakes, and donuts. Crème légère, a variation on the classic pastry cream, is simply lightened with the incorporation of fresh whipped cream. It can be used instead of pastry cream as an airy filling for choux buns, mille-feuille, and as a topping for other desserts.
- 1/2 vanilla bean
- 2 cups whole milk
- 1/2 cup sugar
- Pinch of salt
- 2 large eggs
- 4 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter
- Cut the vanilla bean in half lengthwise, scrape the seeds out, and add both the pod and seeds to the milk. Bring the milk to a boil then turn off the heat and let it steep for 10 minutes.
- In a bowl, whisk together the cornstarch, sugar, and salt. Gradually add the eggs and mix until a smooth paste is formed.
- Temper the egg mixture with the hot milk by slowly whisking in 1/3 of the hot milk, then pour the egg mixture into the remaining hot milk on the stove and continually whisk over medium heat. Whisk until thickened.
- Remove from heat and stir in the butter until melted and fully incorporated. Cool over ice, and cover with plastic wrap directly on the surface to prevent a skin from forming.
- Cool completely before using.
- In a stand mixer or by hand, whip 1 cup of cold heavy cream into stiff peaks and fold it into the cool pastry cream in 3 parts until fully combined.