Lately, we've been testing recipes from the cookbooks we have in the store at Local Root. Have to do some quality control, you know?! Truth be told, you can't really get to know a cookbook until you've paged through it, taking in the photographs and recipes, and workied through those that jump out at you most. For this post, the baker in me gravitated towards Dorie Greenspan's Around My French Table, where I picked out recipes to compose the perfect cream puff. I started with this pastry cream recipe, knowing Dorie wouldn't steer me wrong. Cream puffs, eclairs and the like are all things I've made in many forms and variations in the past, but it's always so nice to revisit those basic recipes, to remember how to work through the steps and execute something that results in this incredible product.
I thought it might be fun to give you a step-by-step guide on how to make pastry cream, with photos of each step along the way. If you decide to give this a try, I'd love to know what you think! I'd also be curious to know your other favorite pastry cream recipes. Around My French Table has a chocolate variation, which I haven't tried yet, but certainly plan to!
So let's get to the recipe, shall we?
Dorie Greenspan's Pastry Cream
Ingredients 2 cups whole milk 6 large egg yolks 1/2 cup sugar 1/3 cup cornstarch, sifted 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract 3 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces, at room temperature
Directions 1.) Bring the milk to a boil in a small saucepan.
2.) In a large bowl, mix together the egg yolks, sugar and cornstarch. This mixture will be extremely thick, but that's how it should be.
3.) As soon as the milk begins to boil, gradually pour about 1/4 cup of milk into the egg mixture, stirring the entire time so that the eggs don't curdle. Continue to add the milk to the eggs, whisking continuously. Once all of the milk has been incorporated, return the mixture to the pan and continue to heat over medium heat, still whisking continuously. The mixture will thicken quickly, just continue to whisk until it reaches your desired consistency, then remove from the heat. This step will really only take a minute or two.
4.) Add in the butter and vanilla, and continue whisking, until the mixture smooth and silky. Transfer the cream to a bowl, and press a piece of plastic wrap onto the surface of the pastry to prevent a film from forming. The pastry cream can now be placed into the fridge, or if you want it to chill faster, place the pastry cream bowl into a bigger bowl filled with ice cubes and cold water. Once cool, it's ready to use!
**Baker's note: Sometimes when you make a pastry cream, you will end up with bits of cooked egg in there, no matter how careful you are not to curdle the egg. If this happens and your cream isn't completely silky, just press it through a fine mesh sieve using a spatula. This removes all of the pesky little chunks, and will ensure that you get the flawless cream you desire. This pastry cream will keep tightly covered for up to three days n the refrigerator.
Use this cream to fill cream puffs, eclairs, or perhaps a cake or pie like Boston Cream?!