This is the pastry cream you want for things like Napoleons, layer cake filling, or other applications where the pastry cream must stand up on its own and not run. You can make this a variety of ways depending on how rich and/or sweet you like it. You can make it with all milk, 50% half-and-half or 50% cream as listed below. For a less sweet version cut the sugar down to 6 ounces. It goes like this:
the seeds of 1 vanilla bean
1 pint whole milk
1 pint heavy cream
8 ounces sugar (1 cup plus one tablespoon)
12 egg yolks
1.75 ounces (scant 1/2 cup) cornstarch
Start by combining the seeds of the vanilla bean with the milk in a medium saucepan and bring it to the boil.
Give it a good whisk every so often.
Meanwhile, combine the yolks and sugar in the bowl of a mixer fitted with the whip.
Whip on high for about three minutes until a thick ribbon drips off the whip.
With the mixer running on medium-low, add the cornstarch in a steady stream. Scrape the bowl to make sure it’s all incorporated.
Now add the hot milk in a steady stream.
When it’s completely incorporated, pour the whole works back into the saucepan…
…and whisking steadily, bring the mixture up to boiling. Let it bubble — not violently — for about 45 seconds to a minute. There’ll be a little foam on the top, gently stir that in.
Pour it into a bowl or onto a sheet pan, and allow it to cool for about ten minutes.
Lay on some plastic wrap to prevent a skin from forming. Cool the pastry cream (if you’re using a bowl, placing it in an ice bath works the best) for about fifteen minutes, then put it in the refrigerator. A half recipe will cool down enough in half an hour to be placed in the fridge on its own.