This vanilla custard (AKA pastry cream) is about as simple and versatile as it gets. With just a few ingredients, you can whip up a batch in 30 minutes or less. Pipe it into eclairs or profiteroles if you're feeling fancy, layer it between cakes with fresh fruit or simply enjoy it by the spoonful.
I made this recipe with vanilla extract, but you can infuse pretty much anything into the milk for other flavors, like fresh or dried herbs, spices or even spirits. It's an empty canvas for all kinds of creativity, but also a universal favorite in its most basic vanilla version, especially for the little ones.
(yields 1 1/4 C)
1 cup organic whole milk
1 Tbsp vanilla or 1/2 vanilla bean, split
2 Tbsp cornstarch
1/4 C organic sugar
1 organic egg
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
- Pour milk into heavy saucepan. Split vanilla bean into milk, add salt and heat over medium-high, stirring constantly. Bring to just under a boil, turn off heat.
- In a medium bowl, combine sugar, cornstarch and egg; whisk until smooth.
- Using a ladle, add one third of hot vanilla bean milk into egg mixture, whisking constantly. Pour the egg-milk mixture back into the saucepan with remaining hot milk. Turn heat back on and whisk custard over medium heat until mixture thickens and starts to bubble slightly, just under a full boil.
- Remove from heat and pour custard through a fine mesh sieve into a medium bowl. Cut butter into custard and whisk to combine until smooth.
- Finally put a piece of plastic wrap directly on top of custard and allow to cool at room temperature before chilling in refrigerator. Store chilled up to five days.