Vanilla Bean Pastry Cream

If you enjoy making desserts at home, this is something you should know how to do – especially if you like impressing people. That includes yourself.

The uses are so numerous, it’s one of the first recipes you learn in a professional baking class. From the filling for cakes, fruit tarts or even as the second layer sandwiched between a nice pastry shell and whatever fruit grabs yer fancy on top. To really look like a pro, jazz up cupcakes by hollowing out a small ‘cone’ shape, add some pastry cream, top with the cut out cone & dust with icing sugar. 

For the most effortless dessert for a dinner party, serve it simply and elegantly in some pretty glass goblets. Add a nice biscotti on the side. Perhaps a decadent piece of rich, dark chocolate. Simple is usually best~

Using a vanilla bean or vanilla bean taste will give you best flavour, and those gorgeous vanilla specks throughout. If you don’t have either, use vanilla extract – but make sure it’s the real thing~

Vanilla Bean tip: even if looks dry, there’s still some goodness inside. Heat it with the milk, then cut it open and scrape out the seeds.

Vanilla Bean Pastry Cream

This recipe comes from local Niagara chef goddess Anna Olson. I’ve had the opportunity to meet both Anna and her chef husband Michael; like their food and their recipes, they were gracious, lovely and genuine. 

1 cup 2% milk
½ vanilla bean, cut open, seeds scraped out (or 1 tsp vanilla bean paste)
3 large egg yolks
3 Tbsp sugar
2 Tbsp cornstarch
2 Tbsp unsalted butter, cut into pieces

Heat the milk with the scraped seeds form the vanilla bean (or use vanilla bean paste) to just below a simmer. If using extract, add with the butter at the end.

In a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks, sugar and cornstarch. Ready a bowl with the butter, placing a strainer on top of it.

Gradually whisk the hot milk into egg mixture and then return it all to the pot. Whisk this constantly (switching to a spatula now and again, to get into the corners) over medium heat until thickened and glossy, about 2 minutes. Test by dipping a spoon and then tracing your finger along the back; if a line forms, it is ready. Pour this immediately through the strainer, whisking it through if needed, and stir in the butter.

Place a piece of plastic wrap directly over the surface of the custard, cool to room temperature and then chill completely until ready to use. The pastry cream will keep up to 4 days refrigerated.