Pastry Cream

I have recently become intrigued with different flavors of pastry cream. It is a very useful canvass for desserts. Once you make the base pastry cream, you can really add all sorts of things.

Possible desserts using pastry cream:
  • pipe into dessert cups or wine glasses with whipped cream, or between layers of flavored gelatin
  • pipe into choux pastry (like eclairs, cream puffs etc.)
  • use as filling for cake or cupcakes, or between layers of petit fours
  • as filling for roll cake
  • as dollops on top of other desserts, like pie
Possible add-ins to pastry cream (whisk into finished pastry cream):
  • crushed berries
  • pumpkin or sweet squash puree (like kabocha or butternut squash), with ground spices (cinnamon, cloves, allspice, nutmeg)
  • maple syrup
  • peanut butter, almond butter (?) probably use in small quantities. You could try tahini, but I'm not sure how that would taste.
  • cocoa powder
  • extracts (coconut, vanilla etc.)
  • grated coconut, coconut milk and coconut extract- grated coconut will affect the texture of the pastry cream, but in the right setting this would be good
  • matcha powder (high quality Japanese green tea powder- bright green)
  • citrus (lemon, orange or lime) zest with honey
  • ginger- either ground ginger, or finely grated fresh ginger (I like the microplane graters for this kind of work)
Experimental add-ins:
  • liquers like baileys irish cream, kahlua, grand marnier, brandy etc. (?) Not sure if this will work yet, sometimes alcohol will curdle milk products, so this is an experimental idea
  • juice concentrate (cranberry, pomegranite etc.) (?) also an experimental idea, need to check the acidity of the juice with milk products to avoid curdling the cream.
  • sweetened condensed milk- another experimental idea, perhaps reduce the amount of cream in the original recipe and replace with sweetened condensed milk (?)
Possible flavorings to infuse the cream (simmer half and half with these items, then strain and use for the recipe below):
  • chai tea spices (see chai tea recipe)
  • any sort of tea leaf- earl grey, sencha/green tea, black tea, or Japanese specialty teas like Houjicha, Genmaicha etc. This makes a "milk tea" kind of concept like my milk tea cupcakes, or earl grey puddings.
  • melted bittersweet chocolate
Pastry Cream
This goes fast, so be prepared to watch and stir this from start to end, no checking email while this is on the stove!

Warm over medium heat until simmering, stirring occasionally:
2 C half & half
6 TB sugar
pinch of salt

While that is warming, whisk 5 egg yolks in medium bowl until combined. Add 2TB sugar and whisk until sugar is dissolving, mixture will be creamy. Now whisk in 3 TB cornstarch, whisk until combined and thick.

When half and half is simmering, gradually whisk some half and half into the egg bowl and stir to temper the eggs (brings the temp of eggs up slowly, instead of cooking the eggs). Then pour from the egg bowl back into the cream pan on the stove. Return to a simmer over medium heat, whisk constantly for about 30 seconds. When the cream is glossy and thickened, remove from heat.

Whisk in:
4 TB cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1.5 tea vanilla

Strain the pastry cream. Cover with plastic wrap and either refrigerate until cold or stick in the freezer to speed up the process- just don't let it freeze.

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