Classic French Chocolate Pastry Cream Recipe

cookies filled with pastry cream
Chocolate Pastry Cream Filled Cookied. Glow Cuisine - Getty Images
    15 mins
Ratings (9)

There are some classics of the French kitchen which cannot be substituted or replaced by  ready-made versions, one of these is the classic French Chocolate Pastry Cream. If you have ever wondered why French Patisserie os so loved worldwide, then pastry cream is one of the reasons. The unctuous, cream whether flavored or not is the (not so) secret ingredient. 

Chocolate pastry cream can be used in profiteroles, or cream puffs, Napoleons, éclairs, tarts, and Génoise cake. In fact, check out most French cakes and pastries and it will often include the cream. This one is especially good piped into tart shells and topped with raspberries.

Many are afraid of making the cream, accusing it of being fragile and hard to make. Not so. Just follow the instructions below and you will just how easy it is. Do not rush it though, that's when it can go wrong. 

This recipe uses a semi-sweet chocolate, if you want a stronger, sharper choclate flavor then use a dark chocolate. Be warned though, this strength of chocolate is not to everyone's taste, especially children. 

What You'll Need

  • 1 ¼ cups whole milk
  • 2 oz. semi-sweet, melted chocolate (to melt chocolate see below**)
  • 3 egg yolks
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cocoa powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

How to Make It

In a small saucepan, warm the milk over low heat until it is just hot enough to steam, no more. While the milk is warming, whisk together the egg yolks, sugar, flour, cocoa powder, and cornstarch until the mixture is completely smooth.

Once the milk is steaming, add the melted chocolate to it and vigorously whisk until it is fully incorporated into the milk. Add half of the chocolate milk, again whisking constantly, to the egg mixture.

Add the milk and eggs back into the hot milk, continue stirring, and heat it for 1-2 minutes, until the custard reaches 170F on a digital thermometer and is very thick. Do not leave the cream unattended at this point, it needs your undivided attention. 

Remove the cream from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract, making sure it is fully incorporated. Chill the cream completely before using for filling your pastry or tart. 

This chocolate pastry cream recipe makes approximately 2 cups flavored cream.

** To melt chocolate. 

Chocolate can be melted in the microwave but this can be a little fierce if not done carefully, just a few seconds too long and the chocolate will scorch. A better method is tp place the chocolate broken into small pieces into a glass bowl. Place the bowl over a  broken into small pieces into a glass bowl. Place the bowl over a saucepan of gently simmering water, do not let the steam get to the chocolate. Stir from time to time​ ​with a wooden (not metal) spoon.