Oh the love of pastry cream. This beautiful almost sinful delight has so many uses such as fillings for tarts,cakes,cream puffs and last but not least eclairs. Yum!!!
1 vanilla bean
1 2/3 cup whole milk
4 egg yolks
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
2 tablespoons butter
With a sharp knife split the vanilla bean lengthwise. Using the back of the knife carefully scrape the seeds from the bean and place into a saucepan. Toss the scraped bean into the saucepan as well. Add the milk to the sauce pan, over medium heat bring the milk and vanilla to a simmer. Turn off heat and cover tightly for 15 minutes to steep. Covering the milk and vanilla mixture is of great importance to the outcome of the pastry cream. If not covered, the finished pastry cream can be dry and not the wonderful supple cream it should be.
In a large bowl whisk the egg yolks and sugar until pale yellow. Add the cornstarch to the whisked egg yolks and whisk until well combined. Once the milk has steeped the 15 minutes. Uncover and remove the vanilla bean. Pour about a third of the milk into the egg yolk mixture and whisk until combined. This is called tempering the eggs. Tempering warms the egg mixture to that of the milk , not shocking it. Without tempering you would end up with scrambled egg instead of a smooth pastry cream. Pour the tempered mixture into the saucepan of remaining milk. Whisking constantly over medium heat, cook until mixture just begins to boil and has thickened. Remove from heat and allow to sit for about 10 minutes and stir in butter until combined.
Place the pastry cream in a bowl and cover top with plastic wrap. Allow to cool. Refrigerate if not using right away,once cooled.
Don’t trow away the spent vanilla bean. It has much more life in it. Rinse it off and allow to dry. When the vanilla bean is dry , add to a jar of sugar and just sit back a wait for the magic to happen. In a few days you will have vanilla sugar. Yum!