This pastry cream is flavorful and a very easy recipe to prepare. Just have ice water in the sink ready to cool the custard quickly.
Use this pastry cream as a filling for layer cakes, cream puffs or eclairs, or use it to fill a sponge cake roll or cream-filled doughnuts.
Meyer Lemon Pastry Cream
- 3 large eggs (the yolks)
- 3 cups milk (or use part half-and-half for a richer custard)
- 1/2 cup sugar (granulated)
- 1/3 cup cornstarch
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract (or 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste plus 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract)
- Have about 1 to 2 inches of ice water in the sink or a large container (large enough to put the medium saucepan in when the custard is done).
- In a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks until smooth. Gradually add the milk, whisking constantly, until well blended.
- In a medium saucepan, combine the granulated sugar, cornstarch, and salt. Stir with the whisk to blend thoroughly. Whisk in about 1/2 cup of the milk mixture and stir until smooth.Gradually whisk in the remaining milk mixture until thoroughly blended.
- Put the pan over medium-low heat and cook, stirring constantly, for about 10 to 15 minutes, or until the mixture is thickened and it begins to boil. Let it boil for 1 minute, continuing to stir constantly.
- Immediately place the pan in sink or container with the ice water. Stir frequently as the mixture cools. Stir in the vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste.
- Press a sheet of plastic wrap onto the surface of the custard to prevent a skin from forming. Transfer the bowl to the refrigerator to chill thoroughly.
- The recipe makes about 3 1/2 cups of pastry cream.
- Use it to fill cream puffs, filled doughnuts, cakes, cake rolls, or other desserts.
- Lemon - Add the juice and zest of 1 small lemon along with the vanilla extract.
- Vanilla Bean - Reduce the vanilla extract to 1 teaspoon and add 1 teaspoon of vanilla bean paste.
- Chocolate - Add 1/4 cup of unsweetened cocoa powder to the sugar and cornstarch mixture OR stir 3 ounces of melted semisweet chocolate into the hot pastry cream just before you take it off the burner.
- Coffee - To the milk, add 1 tablespoon of espresso powder or instant coffee granules.
- Strawberry, Blueberry, or Raspberry - Add about 1/3 cup of seedless raspberry jam, blueberry jam, or strawberry jam along with the vanilla.
- Other Flavorings - Add along with the vanilla, 1/4 teaspoon of almond, coconut, or mint flavoring.
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