I have been eagerly awaiting Module 4 of my culinary arts program, as it signals the start to four straight weeks of intensive pastry and baking. From cream puffs and croissants to pâte à choux and palmiers, we will be covering every inch of sugar-topped and butter-stuffed glory.
We’ve made the transition from culinary lessons, where I measured by taste, to the pastry realm, where the difference between a teaspoon and a tablespoon is the difference between perfectly puffed and depressingly deflated. Seeing as I have what I like to call “a healthy dose of OCD,” I am loving every minute of perfection required to brush, bake and pipe my way to my golden brown goal.
I made the above Fruit & Cream Tartlets last week in class, and I couldn’t wait to share the Lightened Pastry Cream recipe we used. And don’t let the use of gelatin scare you off! I was skeptical at first, but it is incredibly easy. So get in touch with your inner OCD self and blend your way to the perfect pastry cream that can be spread onto tarts, pies and in my case, spoons (for instant satisfaction).
Lightened Pastry Cream
16 ounces (1 pint) whole milk
4 ounces sugar
2 ounces cornstarch
1 whole egg, plus 4 egg yolks
2 ounces unsalted butter, cubed
2 Tablespoons pure vanilla extract
4½ gelatin sheets, soaked in cold water for 10 minutes
16 ounces heavy cream
Combine the milk and half of the sugar in a large saucepan over medium heat, whisking constantly as the milk begins to warm.
In a separate bowl, whisk together all of the eggs with the other half of the sugar. Once combined, whisk in the cornstarch.
Pour a portion of the heated milk into the bowl with the eggs, "tempering" the hot into the cold. Return all of the combined egg/milk mixture to the saucepan with the rest of the milk. Whisk constantly and quickly until the mixture thickens to a thinned-out yogurt consistency.
Increase the heat and using a wooden spoon, continue stirring the cream to get out any leftover cornstarch flavor.
Remove the cream from the heat and stir in the butter and vanilla.
Squeeze out the soaked gelatin sheets and stir them into the cream.
Transfer the cream to the bowl of a mixmaster and beat it with a paddle attachment on the lowest speed until it has completely cooled (Note: this can take up to 15 minutes).
Whip the heavy cream until it forms medium peaks.
Fold the whipped cream into the completely cooled pastry cream and use within 3 days.
This recipe is from the Culinary Arts Career Program at The Institute of Culinary Education.