- 4 medium egg yolks
- 80 g (1/2 Cup) of granulated sugar
- 40 g (1/3 Cup) of cornstarch
- 1/2 liter (2 Cups) of whole milk
- 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla bean (scrape the inside of a vanilla bean pod) you can also use 1 tsp of good quality pure vanilla extract (optional substitute: almond extract)
- zest of half lemon
- In a medium mixing bowl whip the egg yolks and sugar with an electric mixer until light and foamy, about 5 minutes. Add the corn starch and mix again for 1-2 minutes until smooth and combined.
- In a sauce pan heat the milk on low heat. Add lemon zest and vanilla bean (or extract). Stir to combine. Now, turn heat to medium and heat milk until a soft boil (little bubbles on the sides and steam starts to form). When the milk is hot, remove from heat. Using a whisk- start adding the beaten egg, sugar, and cornstarch mixture, a little at a time into the hot milk. It’s very important to stir constantly until you achieve a unified mixture.
- Put the saucepan back on low heat and continue whisking. Simmer for about 3-4 minutes until the cream begins to thicken. It’s very important that the cream NEVER BOILS. In this way you have a smooth cream without lumps and without chunks of cooked egg.
- If you have a cooking thermometer you can check that the temperature never exceeds 85°C (185 F). Otherwise, as soon as you see that bubbles begin to form in the cream, lower the heat. You can even remove it from the heat for a few seconds and put it back. This step is the only difficult step in the Pastry Cream recipe.
- Keep cooking on very low heat until cream is thickened. When the cream is well thickened (it will stick to the back of a wooden spoon and not drip off), immediately pour it into a cold glass container. Important to remove the cream immediately from hot saucepan to prevent it from cooking longer.
- While cooling, cover the cream with plastic wrap. Keep it in contact with the cream. This step is to avoid forming a skin on the cream surface.Refrigerate at least 3 hours for it to set.
Italian pastry cream will keep in the fridge for up to one week in an air tight container.
- Prep Time: 5 min
- Cook Time: 10 min
- Category: Sweet/ Dessert
- Method: Italian
- Cuisine: Italian
Keywords: pastry cream, Italian dessert, crema pasticcera, Italian custard, custard, cream recipe, dessert recipe, sweet recipe, Italian crema