Here is another thing to add to the list of “Things Not to Leave Alone with Megan” and this vanilla pastry cream is it. Just couple it with, a jar of Nutella, all the seasons of Downton Abbey on DVD, and a room full of puppies. I will lose my ISH. Hide all the spoons, because if it’s awfully likely that I will be spoon deep in my jar of itAnd since I’m a nursing school widow right now, it’s a constant struggle to keep my time occupied while Ben is hitting the books, or his clinicals and having a jar of pastry cream around is d.a.n.g.e.r.o.u.s. It’s especially dangerous because it’s so dang easy to make! And versatile. It’s amazing in these Boston Cream Pie Pancakes, or in between layers of cake in this Rose Ombre Cake - which also has a step-by-step tutorial in cake decorating!
Check out the step-by-step photos below to learn how!
First, split a half vanilla bean and using the back side of a knife, scrape the seeds or “caviar” out. In a large sauce pan over medium heat whisk together the half and half and milk together. Add the vanilla caviar and pod to the milk mixture to infuse the vanilla flavor. Once steaming and hot remove from the heat and let the mixture rest to finish infusing. As it is sitting, move onto the next step.
Crack and separate five eggs. If you’re sick of getting egg shells into your eggs, try my tried and true How to Crack and Separate Eggs How-to! To the eggs, whisk in the sugar until the egg yolks have turned a nice, light butter yellow color. Then add in the corn starch, whisking until smooth.
Slowly, I mean slowly, whisk in the heated vanilla milk infusion into the eggs, whisking as you go bringing the eggs to a warm temperature gradually. If you just pour all the hot milk at once the eggs will curdle and you will have to start all over. And that’s a bummer. Once the milk and eggs are whisked together pour them all back into the saucepan and bring to a light boil over medium heat, whisking constantly. Once the mixture has thickened, remove from the heat. With a strainer set over a large bowl, pour the whole mixture through and use a spoon to push it through and remove any curdled bits.
Cover the pastry cream with plastic wrap by pressing the plastic directly onto the cream and place in the fridge until set and cool.
And that’s all there is to it! Give it a try as soon as possible. I can’t make any promises that you won’t be eating it out of the jar with a spoon. There are no heroes here. Just go for it.
Vanilla Bean Pastry Cream
Yield: 2 cups
Prep Time: 10 Minutes
Cook Time: 5 Minutes
Total Time: 15 Minutes + Cooling
1/3 cup Sugar
5 Egg Yolks
1 1/2 Tbsp Cornstarch
1 cup Milk
1 cup Half-n-Half
1 Vanilla Bean, split and seeds scraped (or 2 1/2 Tbsp Vanilla Extract)
1 Tbsp Butter
Make up to 24 hours in advance and refrigerate until 1 hour prior to use.
In a medium saucepan, heat the milk, heavy cream and vanilla bean to a boil over medium heat. Immediately turn off the heat and set aside to infuse for 10 to 15 minutes. In a bowl, whisk the egg yolks and granulated sugar until light and fluffy. Add the cornstarch and whisk vigorously until no lumps remain. Temper the eggs by whisking in 1/4 cup of the hot milk mixture until incorporated. Whisk in the remaining hot milk slowly.
Pour the mixture back into the saucepan. Cook over medium-high heat, whisking constantly, until thickened and slowly boiling. Remove from the heat and stir in the butter. Let cool slightly. Press through a fine mesh strainer to remove any curdled bits and remove husk of vanilla bean. Cover strained pastry cream with plastic wrap, and press the plastic wrap on top of the pastry cream to make sure it doesn’t form a skin. Chill at least 2 hours or until ready to serve