Makes about 2 cups
Pastry cream, which is essentially vanilla pudding, is incredibly versatile. It is commonly found as a filling in eclairs or as the base of a fresh fruit tart, but you can also use it for trifles, as a layer cake filling, in a cream pie, or as a creamy addition to any number of desserts. Fold whipped cream into pastry cream for a lighter (not as in healthier!) version to pipe into cream puffs.
- 1/4 cup cornstarch
- 3/4 cup sugar (divided use)
- 2 cups whole milk (divided use)
- 4 large egg yolks, lightly beaten
- 1 pinch salt
- 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoon unsalted butter
- Combine the cornstarch with ¼ cup of the sugar in a mixing bowl, then stir in 1/2 cup of the milk. Blend the yolks into the cornstarch mixture, stirring with a wooden spoon until completely smooth.
- Prepare an ice bath. Combine the remaining 1 1/2 cups milk with the remaining ½ cup sugar and the salt in a nonreactive saucepan over medium heat and bring to a boil. Remove the pan from the heat.
- Temper the egg mixture by gradually adding about one-third of the hot milk mixture, whisking constantly. Add the remaining milk mixture to the eggs. Return the mixture to the saucepan and continue cooking over medium heat, vigorously stirring with a whisk, until the mixture comes to a boil and the whisk leaves a trail in the pastry cream, 5 to 7 minutes. As soon as the pastry cream reaches this stage, remove the pan from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract and the butter.
- Transfer the pan to the ice bath. Stir occasionally until the pastry cream is cool, about 30 minutes.
- Transfer the pastry cream to a storage container and place parchment or waxed paper directly on the surface to prevent a skin from forming. Cover the storage container tightly and refrigerate until needed, up to 3 days.