This pastry cream is excellent as a filling for éclairs, Paris-Brest or any application where a silky, slightly flowing pastry cream is preferred. It’s most often made from whole milk, so it’s a bit lighter than a standard pastry cream (which is often made with half heavy cream). Even though it has the same amount of sugar it doesn’t taste as sweet. To make it you’ll need:
the seeds of 1 vanilla bean
32 ounces (1 quart) whole milk or half-and-half
8 ounces sugar (1 cup plus one tablespoon)
12 egg yolks
1.25 ounces (generous 1/4 cup) cornstarch
Start by combining the seeds of the vanilla bean with the milk in a medium saucepan and bring it to the boil.
Give it a good whisk every so often.
Meanwhile, combine the yolks and sugar in the bowl of a mixer fitted with the whip.
Whip on high for about three minutes until a thick ribbon drips off the whip.
With the mixer running on medium-low, add the cornstarch in a steady stream. Scrape the bowl to make sure it’s all incorporated.
Now add the hot milk in a steady stream.
When it’s completely incorporated, pour the whole works back into the saucepan…
…and whisking steadily, bring the mixture up to boiling. Let it bubble — not violently — for about 45 seconds to a minute.
Pour it into a bowl, and allow it to cool for about ten minutes. Don’t worry about the foam, it’ll subside eventually.
Lay on some plastic wrap to prevent a skin from forming. About half a tablespoon of melted butter will accomplish the same thing.
If you make the full recipe, you’ll want to cool the bowl in an ice bath, then put it in the refrigerator. A half recipe will cool down enough in half an hour to be placed in the fridge on its own.
This is kind of a neat method, isn’t it? The all-in-the-mixer “whipped egg” technique creates a lighter and more elegant product than the standard whisk method.