Crème pâtissière is the thick cream that goes into many French desserts and is one of the easiest to make.
First boil milk with a vanilla pod; whisk egg yolks with sugar; add flour (or corn starch) to the yolks and sugar to make a smooth paste. Dilute the yolks with the boiling milk by pouring it slowly into the bowl while continuing to mix. Put it back on the stove and keep stirring until you have a nice thick cream. Put a pat of butter on top so it doesn’t form a skin, and let it cool off slowly
If you are taking a course in pâtisserie, one of the first things you learn are crème pâtissière’s five variations:
crème mousseline: same as crème pâtissière, but with butter, added twice, once when the cream is hot and again when the cream is cold. The result is smoother than crème pâtissière and lighter than crème au beurre.
crème princesse: crème pâtissière combined with whipped cream. Often used to fill choux pastries.
crème diplomate (also known as crème madame): crème pâtissière with gelatine and cornstarch so it keeps it shape, with the addition of cold crème liquid to keep it light and silky. Often used on fruit tarts and in a Tarte tropézienne
frangipane: for galette des rois.
Image by SKopp