sssst! Don’t tell anyone, but when I was a little girl, there was no greater pleasure for me then licking the beaters of a hand mixer just after Mom finished making cream slices! Mmm, cream slices… In Croatia, cream slice or cremeschnitten (in German), is, without a doubt, the most popular pastry! A block of tasty, yellow vanilla cream, sandwiched between two thin sheets of baked puff pastry is a sight that no kid can resist!
And not only kids are addicted to this treat, quite often you will see a full grown man wolfing down a cream slice, with flakes of puff and smears of vanilla cream all over the place! Sometimes, on top of that yellow cream, there is a layer of whipped cream, too. And when you want to eat one – you have to remove and eat the top puff first, so you can enjoy the rest of the creamy treat…
So let’s get back to those beaters coated in freshly made pastry cream – pure joy! That is the reason crème pâtissière always puts a smile on my face and I feel like that nine-year-old all over again…
What is Crème Pâtissière?
Crème pâtissière [krεm patisjeεr] or pastry cream is custard made of milk, egg yolks, and sugar, and thickened with flour and corn starch. It is cooked until boiled and stirred for few more minutes while boiling until the starch is cooked. Except vanilla, it can be flavored with chocolate, liqueurs, extracts and fruits. Pastry cream is used to fill éclairs, cream puffs, napoleons, fruit tarts, donuts, etc.
How to Make Crème Pâtissière?
- Mix the milk, half of sugar and scraped vanilla pod in a large saucepan and bring to a boil.
- Blanch egg yolks with the rest of the sugar, add sifted flour and cornstarch and whisk to combine.
- Temper the yolk mixture with approximately half of the heated milk. Return the yolk mixture to the pan, put back on the stove and cook stirring vigorously until the cream boils and thickens. Allow pastry cream to boil for another 2 minutes stirring constantly.
- Remove from the stove and immediately pour the cream into a clean bowl. Cover by placing plastic wrap on the surface of the cream and leave it to cool down. Remove the vanilla pod before using the cream.
How to Flavor Crème Pâtissière?
Depending on the flavor you want to get there are several ways to aromatize crème pâtissière:
If you want to make classic, vanilla flavored crème pâtissière, the best way is to use fresh vanilla bean. You should cut it lengthwise with a paring knife, and scrape all the seeds from the inside of the bean. Put the seeds into the milk along with the rest of the bean. Cook the cream as described, and leave it to cool. Only when you are ready to use the cream, take the bean out. If you don’t have the bean, you can use vanilla paste or powder. You can also use vanilla extract. The best flavor has vanilla bean extract, and you should mix it into the cold cream.
You can easily make chocolate crème pâtissière by adding some chopped chocolate (any kind will work – dark, milk or white) to the hot cream. Chocolate will melt quickly, and all you have to do is stir until you get uniform cream, and leave it to cool.
You can add reduced fruit puree, fruit paste, jam or curd into already made and cooled crème pâtissière. That way, you won’t thin down the cream, and you will preserve all the taste of the fruits.
Nut pastes are available in some specialty shops, but naturally,hazelnut paste and pistachio paste can be bought online, too. They are a bit pricey, however – and trust me on this – they are worth every penny! You can achieve the heavenly flavor of roasted hazelnuts or delicate pistachios only by using these kinds of 100% nut pastes. You should also add them to the cold cream.
If you want to add some spirit (pun intended) to your crème pâtissière, add a liqueur such as Cointreau, Grand Marnier, Baylies or Kirsch, but do it when the cream is completely cooled to preserve the entire flavor. And remember – don’t drive or operate heavy machinery later!
Creams Based on Crème Pâtissière
Crème Mousseline [krεm muslin]is a term for pastry cream with butter added. This cream is also called mousseline buttercream or German buttercream.
There are two ways of making crème mousseline:
- Cook crème pâtissière as described. When it is done, pour it into a clean bowl and add half of the butter into the hot cream. Stir well and leave it to cool. When cooled down, add the remaining butter into the cream and use it immediately.
- Cook crème pâtissière as described. Cover the cream with plastic wrap and leave it to cool. When cooled down, whisk the cream, and gradually add softened butter. Use mousseline immediately.
The amount of butter can vary from 2:1 ratio in favor of pastry cream up to staggering double amount of butter than crème pâtissière, it is up to you.
This cream is also based on the pastry cream. Crème Chiboust [krεm ʃibust] is composed of pastry cream and Italian meringue which makes it much lighter texture than regular pastry cream or mousseline. It is made by cooking crème pâtissière, and adding some softened gelatin into the hot cream. Italian meringue should be added to the hot cream, too.
The quantity of Italian Meringue can vary from 1:1 to 3:1 ratio in favor of meringue.
Crème Diplomate [krεm diplɔmat] , also called Crème Légère is another cream based on the pastry cream. Crème Diplomate is made by adding whipped cream or Crème Chantilly (fancy name for cream whipped with some sugar) to crème pâtissière. That way the pastry cream becomes lighter and at the same time retains its flavor. It is possible to add some gelatin into crème pâtissière before mixing in Chantilly, but it is not necessary.
You can add half the amount of whipped cream than pastry cream up to equal amounts of whipped cream and pastry cream which will result in much lighter diplomate.
Well, my dear reader, our today’s lesson about pastry cream has come to an end. Now close your eyes, role up your sleeves and start your time travel back to childhood, by munching on at least one scrumptious, mouth-filling, delicious pastry filled with Crème Pâtissière. I will! See you there!
Well, what do you think about this post?
I read and really appreciate all the comments, even though I do not always have the time to respond to each one. So – keep me in the loop and try to create some sweetness every day because – Sweetness is happiness!!