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Vanilla Bean Pastry Cream

Chef John

"The key to a great pastry cream is using the minimum of starch. You need enough so the cream holds a shape, but not so much it interferes with the flavor. This version uses cornstarch; just be careful not to keep cooking it once it has thickened. This is perfect in Napoleons, pies, tarts, or cakes."
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Ingredients

2 h 30 m servings 120 cals
Original recipe yields 12 servings (3 cups)

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Directions

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  1. Place whole egg and 2 egg yolks into a mixing bowl. Add sugar, corn starch, and salt. Whisk together completely until mixture turns from yellow to a very page creamy color and is slightly thickened, 5 to 8 minutes.
  2. Place milk in a saucepan. Split vanilla bean lengthwise. Scrape the cut side with a paring knife to extract the seeds (paste). Add the seeds to the milk. Heat over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until milk just barely starts to simmer and a few small bubbles appear on the surface. Remove from heat. Whisk hot milk into egg mixture, starting with a small splash then incorporating the rest. Pour mixture back into saucepan.
  3. Place pan over medium-low heat and continue to whisk until mixture begin to thicken, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let it cool 5 minutes. Add chunks of butter and whisk until butter melts into the warm milk mixture. Pass mixture through a fine mesh strainer to remove and chunks of cooked egg or vanilla seeds. Cover surface with plastic to keep it from discoloring; refrigerate until thoroughly chilled 2 to 3 hours.

Footnotes

  • Chef's Note:
  • Tip: Save the scraped pods, and stick them in your sugar container for lovely, vanilla-scented sugar!
  • To use this cream as Napoleon filling, here's Chef John's recipe for Mille Feuille, or Napoleon Pastry Sheets.

Nutrition Facts


Per Serving: 120 calories; 6.3 g fat; 13.9 g carbohydrates; 2.3 g protein; 64 mg cholesterol; 211 mg sodium. Full nutrition

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Reviews

Read all reviews 12
  1. 15 Ratings

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Most helpful positive review

This recipe really is easier than others. To anyone who is not a big fan of stirring for what seems like an eternity over a hot stove, this recipe is for you. It comes together literally in just...

Most helpful critical review

I don't know what I did wrong. Are you sure the recipe needs one whole teaspoon of kosher salt? I followed the recipe EXACTLY with fresh ingredients and it seems too salty.

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This recipe really is easier than others. To anyone who is not a big fan of stirring for what seems like an eternity over a hot stove, this recipe is for you. It comes together literally in just...

Super delicious!

I don't know what I did wrong. Are you sure the recipe needs one whole teaspoon of kosher salt? I followed the recipe EXACTLY with fresh ingredients and it seems too salty.

First time making pastry cream and it was delicious! I chose this recipe because the instructions were clearest and easiest to follow. If you don't have all the ingredients on hand, substituti...

This looks totally delicious, and it is too! Yum!!

This was GREAT! It turned out with a very good taste!

This recipe is easy to follow. I sub 2% percent milk and Vanilla extract instead of vanilla bean. LOVE IT

thanks chef john!

Like most of Chef John's recipes, works like a charm and tastes great. Used as a filling for cream puffs.