Chef's Pastry Cream
1 pint whole milk
1/2 vanilla bean (split lengthwise)
4 Tbsp cornstarch
4 oz sugar
1/4 tsp salt
Place milk and vanilla bean in a saucepan and heat to a boil.
While the milk is heating, mix the cornstarch, sugar and salt.
Gradually add the eggs to the dry mixture and mix until smooth.
Slowly add 1/3 of the hot milk while whisking constantly (this is tempering the eggs). Then, pour the tempered eggs back into the saucepan and return to the heat, stirring constantly (now with a wooden spoon) until the mixture comes to a boil and thickens.
Remove the vanilla bean (you can rinse the bean and air dry it then add it to a canister of sugar to make vanilla sugar).
Pour into a large shallow bowl and cover the surface with plastic wrap or parchment to prevent a skin. Cool down a bit before putting in the refrigerator.
Pastry Cream should keep about 4 days in a cold fridge but it's best within 2 days
Makes about 1 pound 8 oz pastry cream
Pairs Well With
Pastry Cream is a staple in any professional pastry kitchen. It's not as difficult as many people think, in fact it's easier than a custard sauce because cornstarch is used to stabilize the eggs- no worry about curdling! If you get it too, too hot it will lump but don't worry, just put it through a strainer, the flavor will not be affected. It's a recipe that you should master if you enjoy baking because it has so many applications- thin it for a sauce, use it for filling cakes, it's a base for souffles, a topping for Danish and other pastries.
You absolutely must use whole vanilla bean in this recipe, not extract.