Velvety Vanilla Pastry Cream: A Guide to Perfect Custard


1/2 cup granulated sugar
4 large egg yolks
2 cups whole milk
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, diced

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Heat Milk: In a saucepan, heat the milk over medium heat until it simmers. Remove from heat and set aside.

Whisk Eggs: In a mixing bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, sugar, cornstarch, and salt until smooth and pale.

Temper Eggs: Slowly pour the hot milk into the egg mixture, whisking constantly to temper the eggs. This prevents them from scrambling.

Return to Heat: Pour the mixture back into the saucepan and return to medium heat. Cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens and coats the back of a spoon, about 5-7 minutes.

Add Vanilla: Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla extract.

Incorporate Butter: Add the diced butter to the pastry cream and stir until melted and fully incorporated.

Strain (Optional): For an extra smooth texture, strain the pastry cream through a fine-mesh sieve into a clean bowl.

Chill: Cover the pastry cream with plastic wrap, ensuring it touches the surface to prevent a skin from forming. Chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours, or until completely chilled.

Serve or Store: Use the pastry cream as a filling for cakes, éclairs, cream puffs, tarts, or any other pastry of your choice. Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days

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