This pastry cream is excellent as a filling for éclairs, Paris-Brest or any application where a silky, slightly flowing pastry cream is preferred. It’s most often made from whole milk, so it’s a bit lighter than a standard pastry cream (which is often made with half heavy cream). Even though it has the same amount of sugar it doesn’t taste as sweet. To make it you’ll need:
the seeds of 1 vanilla bean
32 ounces (1 quart) whole milk or half-and-half
8 ounces sugar (1 cup plus one tablespoon)
12 egg yolks
1.25 ounces (generous 1/4 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.