How To Make Light & Fluffy Pastry Cream: Perfect for Eclair & Profiteroles

In this post I’m sharing with you 1 secret basic ingredient that can actually transform a thick pasty cream to light and fluffy pastry cream just like the one you see in store-bought Cream Puff. I also have a simple Pastry Cream recipe that you can use to practice what you are going to learn today. 

Small Batch Custard Cream Recipe

I love Profiteroles and Eclair mostly because of the custard cream filling and the chocolate coating. The smooth, silky and creamy texture plus the subtle sweetness is one thing that made it sands out for me. Think about Boston Cream Cake or Boston Cream Triple, how can you say “No” to these dessert? Pastry Cream is delicious, and one the classic filling that you should know how to make if you are into baking. Once you master the technique in making a Pastry Cream, there are various ways that you can use it for your Pastry. Let us take few minutes to get to know Pastry Cream.

Small Batch Pastry Cream

What is Pastry Cream?

Custard Cream of Pastry Cream is a custard base filing used for Cream Puff, Eclairs or Tarts. It is made by mixing and cooking the Cream, Egg, Sugar, Flour, Salt and Cornstarch until it turns into a thick smooth consistency. It can be made plain, like the classic Vanilla Pastry Cream, or you can transform it into a decadent Chocolate flavor or Caramel flavor.  

What’s the Difference Between Pastry Cream and Mousseline Cream?

These two are almost the same, with just some minor difference. In terms of ingredients, Mousseline Cream uses an addition of butter which makes the texture lighter and buttery in taste. You can interchange both, sometimes the difference is not that easy to tell. But they are both good base to use when making filling for Profiteroles and Eclair. If you are interested to know how to make Mousseline Cream, get the FULL RECIPE HERE

Small Batch Cream Puff with Chocolate Coating

Ingredients for Pastry Cream:

  • Heavy Whipping Cream: This is the base liquid ingredient that will make the Pastry Cream creamy, so make sure to use only full fat cream. No non-dairy or skim milk please, this is not the right recipe for you to use Almond milk or coconut milk.
  • Granulated Sugar: – to give slight sweetness to the Pastry Cream. We are only using a small amount because Pastry Cream is not a sweet filling.
  • Flour & Cornstarch: This will thicken the Pastry Cream, combination of both is necessary to get a nice smooth and thick filling. Do NOT substitute one with the other.
  • Egg Yolk – Is what make this into a Custard filling. Without the egg yolk, it is not a Custard filling. Do NOT substitute by using an entire egg as it will not give a smooth texture as when you use pure egg yolk.
  • Vanilla Extract – For flavoring. Can be substituted with Almond Extract. If you want to make a different flavor such as Chocolate Pastry Cream or Caramel Pastry Cream, check the RECIPE HERE
  • Salt – Adds taste

Small Batch Eclair

How To Make a Fluffy and Light Eclair and Profiteroles Filling

So the secret… Whipping Cream! Yes, a simple addition of whipping cream can make a huge difference in the consistency and texture of pastry cream. When I was starting to learn how to bake and I was new to about almost everything about baking, Pastry cream is one thing that really captured my interest. I am a huge fan of Cream Puff (Profiteroles) and I drool over the smooth and light custard filling of this pastry. They are absolutely delicious, smooth, creamy and light. So when I tried to re-create it at home, I made a Custard Pastry Cream (this very same recipe) and used it as a filling. However smooth it was, I was disappointed because I was imagining something like a store-bought custard filling texture, and it was not like that. That is when I started experimenting on it to make it light and fluffy, and the secret and magic ingredient that was able to transfer this Pastry Cream to a light and fluffy texture is the Whipping Cream. Here’s how you do it.

  • Make the base Pastry Cream
  • Make the Whipped Cream (or you can use store-bought ready to use whipped cream in a tub or can)
  • Fold the whipped cream into the chilled Pastry Cream
  • Chill for 30 minutes then whip until light and fluffy

That’s it! You now have a light, fluffy and delicious Pastry Cream, just like this one I used in my Eclair. Full details of the below.

Small Batch Pastry Cream

Now time to put the tips to action. Here’s is a base Pastry Cream recipe that you can practice on. Put my tips into action, and turn it into a silky smooth and delicious filling. And since you are making a Pastry Cream filling, why not try to make Eclair or Profiteroles to put it to use. I have the recipe below. Check it out. Now let’s get started!

Pastry Cream Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup heavy cream (Do not use non fat or skim, or any non dairy like Almond Milk , Soy Milk etc)
  • 1/4 cup + 1 tbsp granulated white sugar
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 1 tsp cornstarch
  • pinch of salt
  • 3 large egg yolks – room temperature
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

For Use in Eclair and Profiteroles:

  • 1/4 cup Whipping Cream (Liquid whipping cream in a carton or you can use store-bough ready to use whipped cream in a tub or can)
  • 1 tbsp icing sugar

Instructions:

  1. Warm the Milk: In a saucepan bring the cream/milk just to a boil (just until milk starts to foam up or until the tiniest of bubbles appear on the edge of the pan but do NOT completely boil). Stir from time to time to avoid forming a thin “film” on top.
  2. Egg Yolk Mixture: Mix sugar and egg yolks together until pale in color. Sift flour and cornstarch over the egg yolk mixture. Manually whisk until thick and smooth.
  3. Warm Cream + Egg Yolk Mixture: Gradually pour warm cream/milk, whisking constantly to prevent curdling.
  4. Cook the Custard Mixture: Pour the mixture back into the saucepan you used to warm the milk and cook over medium heat until boiling, whisking constantly (DO NOT leave as it could curdle easily). Keep whisking constantly for 5 – 10 minutes or until the pastry cream becomes thick. The consistency should be thick but not oily. If you reach the stage that the custard becomes oily, then you have over cooked it. Over cooking could cause the oil to separate from the custard. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla extract or caramel syrup or melted chocolate (depending on the flavor that you are using). The consistency should be smooth and slightly fluid, it should drip from the whisk when you lift it. It should not be too thick. The cream will thicken on its own when it starts to cool. Chill: Scrape the pastry cream into a bowl.
  5. Cool to room temperature then cover with cling wrap and refrigerate until firm (can be made up to 3 days ahead). Whisk or strain before using to get rid of any lumps that may have formed. Note: Lumps in the custard could form if you do not continuously stir it while cooking. If this happens, pass the custard through a strainer to remove any lumps that may have formed.

For Use in Tart:

If pastry cream will be used as tart filling, let cool slightly then pour into a pre-baked tart shell. It is important to pour it while it is slightly warm so that it will be easier to spread and you will get a smoother and more leveled filled tart. If using when cold, spread into a pre-baked tart shell and use a spoon or spatula to level the top.

Small Batch Pastry Cream

For Use in Eclair or Profiteroles

  • Make the base Pastry Cream (any flavor). I have the recipe below. It’s advisable to make it a day before and keep it refrigerated so that it thickens. Or if you do not have that much time, at least chill it for 1 hour in the refrigerator until it thickens.
  • Make the Whipped Cream: You can also use store-bought whipped cream. Pour 1/4 cup of whipping cream in a bowl and add 1 tbsp of icing sugar. Whip until thick and fluffy, about 1 – 2 minutes.
  • Fold the whipped cream to the chilled pastry cream: I added the measurement in my post, but I strongly recommend that you add it gradually because the consistency of your Pastry Cream could vary with mine, or it could vary every time you make it. You don’t want to add to much cream as it will be some too runny. So gradually add the whipping cream (2 tbsp at a time). 
  • Chill for another 30 minutes then Whip:  Using a hand-mixer, whipped the chilled Pastry Cream for 1-2 minutes. Monitor the consistency as it changes color to pale yellow. You want a smooth shiny texture, and consistency that is thick and doesn’t easily fall of the spoon when you turn the spoon upside down. It’s more like a whipped cream frosting consistency that is smooth like this photo.

Smooth Pastry CreamPastry Cream

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Enjoy! If you make this, share and tag me in Instagram #SweetNSpicyLiving. I would like to see your creations too.

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Hi, I'm Marilou. Welcome to my website SweetNSpicyLiving. My website is where I share my passion for baking, cooking, photography and traveling. It's a small piece of my Sweet & Spicy Life that I like to share with you.

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