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This recipe for Pastry Cream is one I use often. I use it for tarts, for my tea parties in mini tartlettes, in cream puffs, eclairs, as a base for coconut cream pies and banana cream pies, and one of my granddaughters calls it “pudding” and wants me to make her “pudding” whenever she loses a tooth, so of course she gets her “pudding”.

Pastry cream is actually slightly different than pudding, or custard. A custard or pudding is milk or cream thickened with eggs. Pastry cream is a vanilla custard that is thickened with cornstarch, along with eggs. The cornstarch protects the eggs when boiled, which then cooks out the pasty cornstarch taste. Both pastry cream and custard are divine, especially when home made.

Don’t be intimidated by the process. At first I was afraid to make pastry cream for fear it would become scrambled egg cream. But, if you follow the recipe in order, you will see even a novice baker can make pastry cream, and move yourself up from novice baker to experienced baker, and impress everyone with your baking skills.

You can find recipes like this one, including one for my cream puffs, in my cookbook Rocky Mountain Lodge & Cabins MORE Favorite Recipes, which can be purchased at our Gift Shop.

Here is the recipe I use for my Pastry Cream:

Prep Time: 10 Minutes
Cook Time: 15 Minutes
Total Time: 25 Minutes
Servings: About 2 1/2 cups


  • 1 large egg
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 Tbsp cornstarch
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream (or another cup of whole milk)
  • 2 Tbsp real butter (not margarine)
  • 2 tsp real vanilla extract


  1. In a medium glass or heat proof mixing bowl combine egg, yolks, sugar, cornstarch, and salt. Whisk until the mixture is completely smooth with no lumps.

  2. In a large saucepan add milk and cream. Heat until just starts to boil, stirring often so the milk doesn't scald or form a film. As soon as it starts to boil, remove from heat.

  3. Slowly drizzle half of the hot milk mixture into the egg mixture while constantly whisking the egg mixture. This slow adding of the hot milk to the eggs is called tempering the eggs, and prevents them from becoming scrambled eggs.

  4. Pour the warm egg mixture back into the saucepan with the remaining milk mixture, and whisk to combine. Over a medium heat, whisk the cream constantly until thickened, about 2-5 minutes (depending on your altitude, things take longer at 7,500 feet in elevation where I live). The cream will thicken quickly but you need to cook off the corn starch so the cream doesn't separate. Reduce the heat to keep it at a very low boil, and continue whisking vigorously for 1 minute. When it's done the cream should be smooth and thick.

  5. Remove from heat and whisk in the butter and vanilla extract until the butter has melted and the cream becomes silky. Transfer to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap directly on top of the cream. This will prevent a skin from forming on top of the cream. Allow it to come to room temperature, then refrigerate for up to 3 days.

Recipe Cuisine: French

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