Vanilla Pastry Cream (Crème Pâtissière)

This pastry cream is super smooth and silky. It has a beautiful vanilla flavor without being too overpowering. And it takes less than 10 minutes to make. If you want to explore the art of French pastries, then add this recipe to your repertoire because it is essential for many French desserts.

vanilla pastry cream

What is Pastry Cream?

Pastry cream, also known as crème pâtissière, is a French custard consisting of eggs, milk, sugar, butter, and vanilla.

This filling is used in tarts, cream puffs, eclairs, profiteroles, and many other French pastries and desserts. We do not need to limit its use to “French” desserts, however.

For example, this pastry cream is amazing in this Raspberry Stuffed French Toast. The French toast wouldn’t have the same wow factor without the pastry cream!

pastry cream

Best Vanilla to Use for Pastry Cream

For this crème pâtissière, the type of vanilla that is best depends on how strong of a vanilla flavor you want to experience.

Good vanilla extract works perfectly most of the time. If you want the vanilla to have a bigger punch of flavor, however, use half of a vanilla bean. To do this, put the bean paste in the pastry cream right at the end when the butter goes into the pot, and watch the beautiful flecks of vanilla swirl around in the cream. It’s sooo beautiful!

Tips for Making Pastry Cream

  1. Temper the egg/sugar mixture by pouring the hot milk slowly into the eggs and whisking vigorously. This prevents the eggs from scrambling.
  2. In the event that some of the eggs scramble a bit (which happens to the best of us), strain it through a mesh collander to be certain that it is completely smooth.
  3. Add the butter and vanilla right at the end. We add the vanilla at the end so that the flavor is strong and doesn’t dissipate from cooking out.
  4. Add the butter at the end to give the pastry cream an extra silky mouth-feel.
  5. Put the warm pastry cream in a storage bowl, and lay a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the pastry cream so that no air comes in contact with the surface. Otherwise, a skin will form – Yuck! Cover the container with a lid and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
creme patissiere

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Vanilla Pastry Cream (Crème Pâtissière)

creme patissiere

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  • Author: Camille
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 10 minutes
  • Yield: 2 cups 1x
  • Category: french desserts

Ingredients

Units Scale
  • 474 ml whole milk (2 c)
  • 100 g granulated sugar
  • 25 g cornstarch
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tsp vanilla or 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
  • 28 g unsalted butter (2 Tbs)

Instructions

  1. Combine milk and half of sugar in a medium pot. Cook on medium-high heat and bring to a simmer.
  2. While the milk is coming to a simmer, combine the remaining sugar, cornstarch, eggs, and egg yolks; whisk until smooth.
  3. Once milk is simmering, slowly pour half of the milk into the egg mixture, whisking quickly so that the eggs won’t scramble. 
  4. Return mixture to pot and place on medium heat, whisking quickly so the pastry cream doesn’t burn. After a minute or two, the pastry cream will boil and thicken to a consistency similar to pudding. Continue to stir for one minute after it begins to boil so that the cornstarch taste disappears.
  5. Remove from stove immediately and add butter and vanilla. Stir until butter fully melts and blends in. 
  6. As an optional step, you can put the pastry cream through a fine mesh strainer to make sure no egg bits remain. This step is optional but recommended for super smooth pastry cream. 
  7. Transfer the pastry cream to a clean storage container. Place a piece of plastic wrap directly on top of the pastry cream so that it does not form a “skin.” Chill the pastry cream for at least 2 hours. Pastry cream can be made a few days ahead as well if desired. 

Notes

This is a Baker Street Society original recipe.

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