How to make perfectly smooth and creamy vanilla Pastry Cream Recipe at home! Today's recipe includes a step-by-step how-to video at the bottom of the post! Learn how to make perfect pastry cream every time! Great for Cream Puffs, Eclairs, and Boston Cream Pie! Be sure to check out the how-to video at the bottom of the recipe!
Combine cream, milk, ⅓ cup (67g) sugar, vanilla bean, and salt in a medium-sized heavy bottomed saucepan. Place on stovetop over medium heat. Stir frequently until sugar is dissolved and mixture comes to a simmer. Remove from heat and allow to cool for 10 minutes (stir occasionally).
Meanwhile, in a separate large bowl, whisk together egg yolks and 3 Tablespoons of sugar. Whisk vigorously for about 15 seconds, until sugar is beginning to dissolve.
Sprinkle cornstarch over egg/sugar mixture and whisk until combined and slightly thickened.
Once your cream mixture has cooled, slowly drizzle about ⅓ cup of the cream mixture into the egg mixture while whisking constantly (this will temper your eggs and gradually adding the heated cream will prevent them from cooking!). Slowly, while still whisking, drizzle in the remainder of your cream mixture until the cream and egg mixture are completely combined.
Pour mixture back into saucepan and return to stovetop over medium heat. Whisk frequently until thickened.
Remove from heat and pour mixture through a fine mesh strainer into a heatproof bowl (vanilla bean should be caught by the strainer and should be discarded now).
Whisk in butter, one piece at a time until completely combined. If you didn’t use a vanilla bean, stir in the vanilla extract at this point, too.
Place a piece of plastic wrap directly in contact with the surface of the pastry cream (to prevent a skin from forming). Allow pastry cream to cool at room temperature for about 30 minutes or until pastry cream is near room temperature, then transfer to the refrigerator to chill for at least 2-4 hours before using.
¹If you don’t have a vanilla bean, you can use 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract instead, but don’t add the extract until the end when you stir in the butter.This recipe adapted from Baking Illustrated (affiliate link).