Creme patissiere – pastry cream in English – is a vanilla-flavored custard filling similar to pudding which is used in wide variety of French fruit tarts and pastries, many of which have been embraced by Morocco. In traditional Moroccan cuisine, it most famously shows up in a stacked dessert known as Milk Bastilla, and it may also be used as an optional ingredient to make frangipane, a French almond pastry cream sometimes used in place of creme patissiere.
While boxed American vanilla pudding mix may be acceptable as a substitute, don't be be tempted to buy packaged creme patissiere mixes in Morocco; I don't feel the flavor or texture is worth the little bit of time they save, and they also seem to collapse if not used right away. Instead, try making your own creme patissiere from scratch, as the end result will be far superior to the boxed varieties and truly takes only a little more effort.
- Have all your ingredients measured and ready. Set out a large bowl, a medium sauce pan, a whisk or heavy spoon, and a sieve or strainer.
- In the medium-sized saucepan, heat the milk with the vanilla bean over medium heat almost to boiling.
- While the milk is heating, mix the egg yolks and sugar together in the large bowl, then whisk in the flour and cornstarch until the mixture is smooth.
- Remove the vanilla bean from the milk, then gradually whisk the hot milk into the egg mixture. Do this very slowly as you don't want the yolks to cook from the heat of the milk.
- Strain the mixture back into the saucepan. Place over medium heat, stirring or constantly whisking until the mixture thickens and reaches a boil. Continue cooking for half a minute longer, stirring hard and constantly to keep the pastry cream smooth.
- Remove the pastry cream from the heat. (Stir in the vanilla flavoring at this point if you did not use a vanilla bean). Place a layer of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the pastry cream to avoid a skin forming, and leave to cool to room temperature.
- The pastry cream can be used when cool, or covered and refrigerated for up to several days until needed. Stir chilled pastry cream before using.
Creme patissiere will-will keep for several days in the fridge, allowing you to plan ahead. The amount of sugar may be adjusted to make the pastry cream as sweet as you like.