Vanilla Bean Pastry Cream

  • Serves: Makes 2 cups
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Use the freshest butter you can find for the best flavor. Egg yolks contain lecithin which give this recipe a creamy, smooth texture and a rich flavor. They also nicely color the cream a deep yellow. Make sure you boil the recipe for the exact time in the recipe so it thickens nicely and won't taste starchy. On the other hand, be careful not to over boil the recipe, otherwise the cornstarch begins to break down and the cream will begin to thin.

Recipe used with the:
Banana Cream Chocolate Ganache Pie Recipe


Let the pastry cream cool before you add in the butter, preventing the pastry cream from separating. 

2 cups whole or 2% milk
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and scraped (*or 2 teaspoons vanilla extract; if using instead, add in Step 6)

6 large egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons (1 3/4 ounces) unsalted butter, cold, cut into bits

Infuse the milk with the vanilla bean:
1. In a small, heavy-bottomed saucepan, bring the milk, vanilla seeds and scraped vanilla bean pod, to a boil over medium-low heat. Immediately remove from heat, cover and let sit for 10 minutes; this allows the milk to be infused with the flavor of the vanilla.

2. Strain the infused milk, through a fine mesh strainer, into a large Pyrex, glass heat proof 2-quart measuring cup or bowl before using. Save the discarded vanilla pod for another use. The seeds should be fine enough to pass through the strainer with the milk.

Cook the pastry cream:
1. Set aside the fine mesh strainer.

2. Bring the milk to a boil in a medium size heavy-bottomed saucepan, whisking constantly to make sure it won't burn. Make sure you get into the edges of the pan

3. In a large heavy-bottomed saucepan, whisk together the egg yolks, sugar, cornstarch, and salt until well-blended and thickened.

4. Whisk constantly so the egg yolks won't cook, drizzle in 1/4 cup of the hot milk. Repeat with the remainder of the milk, adding it in a steady stream.

5. Place the pan over medium heat, and while whisking constantly, bring the mixture to a boil. Adjust the heat, if necessary so the mixture won't burn.
Allow the pastry cream to boil for 1 to 2 minutes before removing. Take care to reach the corners of the pan with the whisk.
SARAH SAYS: Doing so sets the eggs and activates the starch, thereby ensuring a proper consistency.

NOTE: After cooking, strain the mixture through a fine mesh strainer if your pastry cream has lumps.

6. Let the pastry cream sit for five minutes before stirring in the butter chunks, (*and then, the vanilla extract.)
Stir until the pastry cream is smooth and all of the butter is incorporated.

7. Place the pan with the pastry cream, in a large bowl filled with ice cubes and water and stir occasionally until the cream is cold, about 10 minutes.

8. Scoop the pastry cream into a medium size bowl, taking care not to scrape the bottom and side of the pan. If the cream is lumpy or has bits of cooked egg whites, alternately strain the cream into the bowl pushing it through a fine mesh strainer with a rubber spatula.

9. Cover with a piece of plastic wrap pressed on the surface of the cream so a film will not form on its surface and place momentarily in the refrigerator to chill.

Press a piece of plastic wrap on the surface of the custard and refrigerate until chilled. The pastry cream can be made up to 3 days in advance. Stir well before using.
Does not freeze.
SARAH SAYS: Pastry cream is highly perishable; it cannot remain out of refrigeration for more than 2 hours maximum.

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