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Pastry cream is a basic preparation for many desserts. Tart bases, eclair fillings, cake fillings - the list goes on and on. There are many different formulas, but this one is my favorite because it's consistent and I love the brown sugar flavor. If you add about 3 oz. of metlted chocolate to this you will have chocolate pastry cream.
- Place the yolks, sugar and salt in a mixing bowl and whisk until blended.
- Stir in the cornstarch.
- Heat the milk and vanilla bean (if using) to scalding in a heavy saucepan.
- SLOWLY whisk the milk into the eggs, whisking the eggs constantly.
- This is called"tempering".
- Start out with just a thin stream of milk, constantly whisking, then as the eggs warm up you can add the milk faster.
- You need to do this slowly at first to avoid scrambling the yolks.
- If you do that, you have to start over.
- Remove the vanilla bean and pour the yolk mixture back into the pot and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens- about 3-5 minutes.
- Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the cream and the vanilla extract (if using).
- Pass the cream through a fine mesh strainer (very important to do!!!), then place a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface to prevent a skin from forming.
- Refrigerate for at least 2 hours to chill.
- Will keep several days in the refrigerator.