Making Crème Mousseline

Crème mousseline — also known as German buttercream — is a silky and decadent combination of pastry cream and butter. It’s often used as a filling, though it works just as well as a frosting, as the “buttercream” moniker implies. The proportions for crème mousseline are 2 cups pastry cream to one cup very soft butter. Yeah, I know. Wow.


Making Ricotta Cream

For those who aren’t big fans of cream cheese fillings or frostings (I’m one of those), ricotta cream is a terrific alternative. It’s lighter and fresher tasting, especially when you make it with homemade ricotta. Yet it’s utterly delicious. Served with some sort of crisp cookie garnish, it makes a dessert all by itself. And of course it’s the classic filling for cannoli. Start by placing the ricotta in the bowl of a mixer fitted with a paddle (you can do this by hand if you’d rather).


Ricotta Cream

This recipe is adapted from Grace Massa Langlois’ new book, Grace’s Sweet Life. If you haven’t been to her blog of the same name, I highly recommend that you visit. It’s a treasure trove of Italian and Italian-inspired bakery. Ricotta cream can be used as a filling for all sorts of things, but is most commonly seen piped into cannoli. You’ll need:

1 lb. 6 ounces (3 cups) fresh ricotta cheese, drained overnight
6 ounces (1 1/3 cups) confectioner’s sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1.75 ounces (1/3 cup) finely diced candied citron or orange peel (optional)
2.75 ounces (1/3 cup) miniature semisweet chocolate chips


Making Stabilized Whipped Cream

Sure, there are plenty of purists out there who don’t believe cream should be polluted with stabilizers. I’m with them…some of the time. The rest of the time I’m worried about my whipped cream holding up for long periods, on warm days or in the freezer. Then I’m looking for a little somethin’-somethin’ to help get me by.

That something is gelatin. Just a little will do wonders you whipped cream’s stability, and honestly, it barely impacts the taste or texture. Start by melting a little gelatin. For 2 cups of cream you’ll start with a 1/2 teaspoon of powdered gelatin and a little ice water. Yes, these are my little silicone Trudeau bowls again. I love them, that’s why I plug them. They’re wonderful:


Making Chiboust

Call it chi-BOOST, call it she-BOO, it’s a sweet, light and delicate filling either way. Pastry cream lightened with Italian meringue is what it is, and it works well in just about any context where you want a large volume of filling, but don’t want to overwhelm the eater with richness or heaviness. A Paris-Brest is a good example, or a Gâteau St. Honoré. Bear in mind that chiboust — like most meringues — doesn’t like humidity. And while it can be piped, pipe it only through large-bore nozzles, since constriction and pressure causes it to deflate and go runny. Here I have about a cup of the firmer of the two pastry creams that are up on the site.


Pastry Cream 2

Just because a component fails in one application doesn’t mean it isn’t good for another. This preparation is too thin and creamy for use in a layered pastry, but would be excellent as a filling for éclairs, in Paris-Brest or in any number of other applications where its eggy silkiness would be an asset. It’s made from whole milk, so it’s a bit lighter than a standard pastry cream (often made with half heavy cream), and 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
8 ounces sugar (1 cup plus one tablespoon)
12 egg yolks
2 ounces (1/4 cup) cornstarch


Making Praline Paste

Perfectly smooth, commercially-made praline paste is ubiquitous in many parts of Europe. Here in the States it’s virtually unknown. However once you taste it I have no doubt it will quickly attain a place of prominence in your spread pantheon — alongside nutella, peanut butter, jam and, for you Aussies and Brits, vegemite and marmite. It’s also very handy as a pastry ingredient, obviously. Begin by assembling your ingredients. The praline comes first. Lay the nuts out on a lightly oiled sheet of parchment paper.