This pastry cream is simple and delicious, it’s a thick pudding that is great for filling pastries, eclairs, cakes, donuts, pies and so much more.
Nothing tastes better than fresh pastry cream, think of it as a thick pudding or thick custard…. YUM!
I love using pastry cream in my desserts. It’s creamy and rich without being too sweet. It’s perfect for filling cakes, croissants, and all kinds of baked goods. This little custard takes any breaded item and elevates it!
Thicker than pudding but with the same consistency, pastry cream first came on the cooking scene in the 1700’s. It’s thought to have originated in either France or Italy, and no doubt each country likely claims it as their own – who wouldn’t?! It’s the perfect ingredient for layering cakes and stuffing cream puffs.
pastry cream is a thick delicious custard, perfect for filling desserts, cakes, cupcakes, eclairs and more…
I have a few recipes I like to use it for:
- Vanilla Cupcakes filled with Pastry Cream – This is one of my favorites. A beautiful and moist cupcake with a pastry cream center – it’s decadent and oh so good! And this works well with many of my cupcake recipes – use this as a template to fill all kinds of these mini cakes.
- Triple Lemon Cake – This one is so good. Here however you’d replace the lemon pastry cream with this pastry cream recipe. It’s perfect for those who love lemon but want something to help cut through the flavor a bit. Both versions are delicious. You could alternate the layers with plain pastry cream and lemon pastry cream, or choose to use plain pastry cream on all of them – Bakers choice!
- Banana Split Cream Puffs – Of course, I’m going to add a cream puff – it wouldn’t be a pastry cream recipe if I didn’t! Here, you’ll want to replace the premade pudding mix with this recipe and add just a little banana extract. These will disappear quickly, so better make extra!
Cream puffs are made with Choux pastry, and some call this choux cream since it’s the traditional cream puff filling. You can flavor it or leave it vanilla flavored. Other great options are almond, lemon, or coconut extract are great additions.
Pastry cream filled layer cake with berries.
Fillings and custards make any dessert better. And if you want a filling that has a different flavor other than our pastry cream – look no further. I have lots of fillings and custards on my website! Such as…
- Lemon Curd – Always a crowd favorite. It’s sweet and tangy, balancing both flavors so neither one overpowers the other. Use to fill cupcakes, layer cakes, or even just spread on a scone. It’s the perfect accompaniment.
- Strawberry Curd – Not a fan of lemon? That’s okay! I have you covered with this Strawberry Curd. It’s summertime in a jar! Make extra and can them for winter – this way you can always have a bit of summer in the winter months.
- Fudge Filling – For the chocolate lover in all of us! I use this one a lot around the holidays – especially for my Peppermint Cookie Cups. It’s a handy recipe to have around and can be used in a lot of different cookies and the like.
And there’s more where they came from, like blueberry curd, and cherry lime curd! Explore my blog to find more filling here.
Okay, let’s begin making this delicious filling!
In a medium bowl, mix sugar, cornstarch, and salt together. Then add ½ cup of milk and whisk until smooth.
In a separate, small bowl mix egg yolks. Next, add them to the mixture and blend until creamy. Set aside.
Now it’s time to focus on the custard part of the recipe – don’t get nervous, it’s super simple with these steps.
In a small saucepan, heat the remaining milk to a simmer. (small bubbles around the edge, not a full boil)
Slowly pour the heated milk into the egg mixture while whisking constantly. If you pour too fast, you’ll scramble your eggs. Pouring slowly allows the egg mixture to slowly heat and will prevent the eggs from scrambling. This process is called tempering.
Place the mixture back into the saucepan and heat on medium-low heat whisking until it comes to a boil and is smooth and creamy. This takes about 5 minutes.
Remove pan from heat, stir in butter and vanilla.
Place pastry cream into a bowl and cover with plastic wrap, allow it to cool for 15 minutes, then put it into the refrigerator to chill.
How long will pastry cream keep stored in the fridge?
Up to 5 days. Because of its short shelf life, I recommend making this as close to the time you need to use it as possible.
Could I use an egg product like Egg Beaters in place of the real eggs?
Unfortunately, this won’t work. If you need an alternative, it’s best to go with a vegan pastry cream recipe. The texture will be slightly different and not as thick.
What’s the best method for applying your pastry cream?
It totally depends on what you’re using it in. If it’s a layer cake, I use a spatula to spread it on. If it’s a cream puff or if I’m using it to fill muffins, I’ll use a piping bag.
Another great use is to fill mini graham cracker pies.
- 4 egg yolks
- ½ cup sugar
- ¼ cup cornstarch
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 2 cups whole milk (separated ½ cup and 1½ cups)
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter (this recipe does not taste good with salted butter)
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract (I use Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla)
- In a medium bowl, mix sugar, cornstarch, and salt together, then add to it ½ cup milk and whisk smooth.
- In a small bowl mix egg yolks, then add them to the mixture and blend until creamy.
- In a small saucepan, heat the remaining milk to a simmer. (small bubbles around the edge, not a full boil)
- Slowly pour the heated milk into the egg mixture while whisking constantly. Allowing the egg mixture to slowly heat will prevent the eggs from scrambling. (you are tempering the egg mixture)
- Place the mixture into the saucepan and heat on medium low heat whisking until it comes to a boil and is smooth and creamy. This takes about 5 minutes.
- Remove pan from heat, stir in butter and vanilla.
- Place pastry cream into a bowl and cover with plastic wrap, allow it to cool 15 minutes, then put it into the refrigerator to chill.
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