I hesitated at first to do Bavarian cream because I’ve had so many bad experiences with it. No, not making it. Eating it. For Bavarian cream is a much abused substance in the baking world. So often it has so much gelatin in it that it comes off like JELL-O pudding. Thankfully, pastry chef Laura N. — another solidly obsessive personality — was kind enough to help me find a formula to get excited about. It’s by Chef Roland Mesnier from his book Dessert University and it goes kinda sorta like this:
1.5 ounces (3 tablespoons) cold water
2 1/4 teaspoons gelatin
4 large egg yolks
3 ounces (1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon) sugar
1 1/2 cups half-and-half
Seeds from one vanilla bean
1 1/2 cups heavy cream, cold
Put the cold water in a small bowl, sprinkle on the gelatin and let it stand. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs and sugar.
Get a large bowl of ice water ready.
Put the half-and-half in a small saucepan, add the vanilla seeds and whisk to combine. Bring the mixture to the boil, then slowly pour it into the egg mixture, whisking the whole time. Pour the entire mixture back into the saucepan and bring it just to the boil. When the custard starts to bubble, pour it through a fine mesh strainer into another bowl. Whisk in the gelatin and place the bowl in the ice water bath.
While the custard is cooling, whip the cream. Add the cold cream to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whip and whip to the soft peak stage. When the the custard has just started to thicken but is still liquid, fold in the whipped cream. Scrape the mixture into the appropriate mold and chill in the refrigerator for a minimum of 3 hours. It can be kept several days or frozen for up to three months.