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Archive for June 13, 2013

RECIPE: Crème Pâtissière, Pastry Cream

A cream puff stuffed with crème pâtissière,
pastry cream. Photo by Stu Spivak |


When we published an earlier tip for a brambleberry tart, we went to link to a recipe for crème pâtissière—pastry cream—and discovered we hadn’t published one. Zut alors!

So here we remedy the situation, and also explain some of the different “crèmes” in French pastry.

Crème pâtissière (CREHM pah-tissy-YAIR) is used to fill cream puffs (profiteroles), napoleons, éclairs, tarts and génoise (sponge cakes), among other cakes and pastries. Traditionally flavored with vanilla, it can be flavored with cocoa, coffee, orange and other flavors.


Prep time 5 minutes, cook time 10 minutes, chill time 1 hour.


  • 1-¼ cups whole milk
  • 3 egg yolks
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 1/8 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Preparation

    1. WARM the milk over low heat in a small saucepan, until it is just hot enough to steam. While the milk is warming…

    2. WHISK together the egg yolks, sugar, flour and cornstarch until the mixture is completely smooth.

    3. ADD half of the steaming milk to the egg mixture, whisking constantly.

    4. ADD the milk and egg mixture back into the pot of hot milk, continue to stir. Heat for 1-2 minutes, until the custard reaches 170°F on a thermometer and is very thick.

    5. REMOVE from the heat, stir in the vanilla extract or other flavor. Chill for an your or longer before filling pastry.



    In French baking, there is no word to match the English term custard. Thus, recipes with the word “crème” encompass both eggy English-type custards and creamier fillings. Here are a few; see our Custard Glossary for many more.

    Creme anglaise (CHREM on-GLEZ, translated as English cream) is a thin pouring custard, used as a sauce. The idea evolved in ancient Rome, where cooks used eggs as thickeners to create sweet custards and creams. Both the English and the French have a long history with both, either consumed alone or used to compose a wide range of desserts.

    Crème brûlée (CREHM broo-LAY, meaning burnt custard), is the richest and thickest of the three classic, silky, baked French custards (crème caramel and pot de crème are the others). All three are made of eggs, sugar, milk and/or cream in different proportions, along with a flavoring such as vanilla. The “brûlée” is a brittle layer of caramelized sugar, burned under a salamander or other intense heat source.


    A napoleon with one layer of crème pâtissière and one layer of custard.


    Crème caramel, the lightest of the classic French custards, crème caramel is made with whole eggs as well as yolks, milk as well as cream. Caramel syrup is poured into the mold or ramekin before adding the custard base. After the custard has set, it is unmolded, leaving the caramel sauce on top and pooling around it.

    Crème chiboust (CREHM shi-BOOST) is a crème pâtissière that has been lightened with stiffly beaten egg whites (Italian meringue). Some people use whipped cream to lighten, but this variation is actually called millefeuille cream. Crème chiboust is flavored with vanilla, orange zest or liqueurs. Mixed with fruit, it becomes crème plombières. The original recipe was purportedly created by a pastry chef, M. Chiboust, proprietor of a pastry shop on the rue Saint-Honoré in Paris, to fill the gâteau St. Honoré he created. The filling is also called crème Saint-Honoré or simply Chiboust. The filling is also used for the Paris-Brest pastry.

    Crème pâtissière is the equivalent of confectioner’s custard, although the English confectioner’s custard is less rich kind than French crème pâtissière. Made from egg yolks, milk, sugar and a little flour, with vanilla or other flavoring, crème pâtissière is used to fill cream puffs, eclairs and gateau St. Honoré,* and is a base for fruit tarts.

    *Gateau St. Honoré, or St. Honoré cake, is named for the French patron saint of bakers and pastry chefs, Saint Honoré (Honoratus, bishop of Amiens, d. 600 C.E.). It is a base of puff pastry with a ring of pâte à choux (cream puff pastry) piped on the outer edge. Small cream puffs are dipped into caramelized sugar and attached side by side on top of the circle of the pâte à choux. This base is traditionally filled with crème chiboust and finished with whipped cream, using a special St. Honoré piping tip.


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    FATHER’S DAY: Grilled Potato Salad With Hot Dogs

    Grilled potato salad (added franks not
    shown). Photo courtesy McCormick.


    In this recipe, we combine grilled hot dogs with grilled potato salad, and serve it as a side. So you can have a burger, chicken or other meat from the grill, and still enjoy a hot dog—mixed into the potato salad.

    We adapted this recipe for Montreal Grilled Potato Salad from, adding
    our own spin: grilled frankfurters, cut into bite-size pieces and mixed into the potato salad.

    The potato salad recipe makes eight 3/4-cup servings; depending on how many franks you use, the portions will be larger. Prep time for the potato salad is 10 minutes, cook time 20 minutes.


    Add a fun flavorful twist to summertime potato salad by first grilling the potatoes and vegetables. Put some franks on the grill at the same time, cut them into bite-sze pieces and add them to the salad.



  • 2 pounds medium red potatoes, pierced with fork
  • 1 medium onion, cut into 1/2-inch slices
  • 1 large red bell pepper, quartered
  • 2 ribs celery
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3/4 cup mayonnaise or plain Greek-style yogurt
  • 2 teaspoons McCormick Grill Mates Montreal Steak Seasoning or Montreal Chicken Seasoning*
  • 6 frankfurters, grilled
    *Substitute: Create your own blend of coarse salt, black pepper, garlic, paprika and red pepper.



    1. MICROWAVE potatoes on HIGH 7 minutes or until almost tender, turning potatoes over halfway through cooking.

    2. GRILL potatoes and vegetables over medium heat 10 to 15 minutes or until potatoes are crisp and vegetables are tender, turning occasionally and brushing with oil. Cool potatoes and vegetables slightly then coarsely chop. While potatoes are grilling, add franks to the grill.

    3. MIX mayonnaise and seasoning in large bowl. Add potatoes, vegetables and sliced franks; toss to coat well. Sprinkle with additional seasoning, if desired. Serve warm or at room temperature.


    Grill ‘em, slice ‘em, toss ‘em into the potato salad. Public domain photo.



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    JULY 4th: American Flag Cherry-Blueberry Pie

    As American as blueberry and cherry pie.
    Photo courtesy Centerville Pie Company.


    If you’re planning for July 4th festivities, here’s a fun food idea from Centerville Pie Company of Centerville, Massachusetts: an American flag pie.

    Prepare your favorite blueberry and/or cherry pie recipe. The Centerville Pie bakers fill the pie crust 3/4 with cherry filling, and use blueberry filling in the upper left corner. Then, they simply use this American flag pie crust cutter cut the top crust to resemble the Stars and Stripes (ingenious!).

    You can also use whipped cream to create “stars” on the upper left corner.

    Centerville Pie Company is happy to ship a pie to you, and pie lovers will really enjoy looking at all of the delicious pies on the website.




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    TIP OF THE DAY: Baking With Honey

    If you love to bake but want to use less refined sugar, consider honey as a substitute. Here are tips on cooking with honey from, the website of the National Honey Board, where you can find every type of recipe plus beekeepers in your area:


    Honey helps enhance browning, so it creates beautifully browned baked goods. The extra body provided by honey adds shape to cakes, pastries and other desserts. If you need to prepare baked goods in advance, honey gives them that “bakery fresh” taste, even days later.

  • Substitute honey for up to one-half of the sugar.
  • For easy removal when measuring honey, spray the measuring cup with cooking spray before adding honey.
  • Reduce the amount of liquid in the recipe by ¼ cup for each cup of honey used in baked goods.
  • Add about ½ teaspoon baking soda for each cup of honey used in baked goods.
  • You’ll need to increase beating time and speed, since it takes more vigorous beating to achieve the correct texture with honey.

    Reach for the honey instead of the sugar. Photo courtesy Michael S. Richter | Morguefile.

  • Reduce oven temperatures by 25°F to prevent over-browning of baked goods.

  • Select a mild, paler honey, such as clover, when delicate flavors predominate—baked goods, glazed vegetables, and subtle fruits like bananas, for example.
  • Select stronger, amber-colored honeys to accompany stronger flavors, such as peanut butter, meats and strong cheeses.

    Seabass with Aji Chile Honey Marinade.
    Photo courtesy Here‘a the recipe.



  • FRUIT: The combination of sweet fruits and honey brings out the best flavors of each. Apple slices dipped in honey is a luscious snack. Try sliced bananas, hazelnut spread and honey on toast or graham crackers for a tasty blend of flavors and textures.
  • ICE CREAM: Honey acts as an anti-freeze, which makes the ice cream’s consistency smoother and protects against crystallization. Here’s a recipe for peach ice cream with honey.
  • SALTY SNACKS: The combination of salt and sweet is a palate pleaser. We love dipping pretzels into honey, and making honey Cornflakes clusters instead of Rice Krispies treats.
  • CANDIED BACON: This recent craze is a special treat, but here‘s a tip: When making honey-candied bacon, the honey should be added to the bacon strips only after they have been cooked part of the way through. If the honey is added too soon, the honey will caramelize too quickly and the bacon will burn.
  • BREAD: Honey is a delicious bread spread instead of jam. Honey with buttermilk biscuits can’t be beat.

  • SALAD DRESSING: If you like sweetness in your salad dressing, add a half teaspoon of honey. It acts as a stabilizer, too, so the vinaigrette won’t separate.

    From appetizers and main dishes to sauces and sides, anywhere a sweetener is used you can substitute honey. We love it as a meat glaze and in marinades. Honey enhances browning and crisping, providing a more beautiful roast.

    Check out the honey-accented recipes at


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    RECIPE: Blackberry Cocktail & Brambleberries

    We recently saw “branbleberry tart” on a menu. It turned out to be a blackberry-raspberry combination.

    Brambleberry is a British term for blackberry (Rubus fruticosa). In the U.S., it includes other members of the thorny berry genus Rubus, such as the raspberry (Rubus idaeus).

    It’s easy to whip up an easy brambleberry tart: Just arrange the berries in a buttery pâte brisée crust (short crust—here’s the recipe), either:

  • top a layer of crème pâtissière (cream puff filling—recipe)
  • With a glaze of melted currant jelly (just pour over the fruit)
    Then, relax with a branbleberry cocktail. This recipe is courtesy and Tanqueray London Dry Gin.


    Bottoms up with a blackberry cocktail.
    Photo courtesy


    Butte blackberries. Photo by Bob Nichols |
    U.S. Agricultural Research Service.


    Ingredients Per Cocktail

  • 1.25 ounces London Dry Gin
  • .5 ounce créme de cassis (blackcurrant) liqueur
  • .5 ounce lemon juice
  • .5 ounce simple syrup (buy or make with this recipe)
  • 5 blackberries
  • Ice
  • Garnish: lime wheel, a cocktail pick of raspberries


    1. COMBINE gin, liqueur, lemon juice and simple syrup in a shaker with ice; shake well.

    2. STRAIN into an ice-filled rocks glass.

    3. POUR the creme de cassis over the top. Garnish with a lime wheel and raspberries.



    Gin has been made from juniper berries since the Middle Ages; as with most spirits, it was originally an herbal medicine. The Dutch physician Franciscus Sylvius (1614-1672) is credited with the invention of gin. The name comes from jenever, the Dutch word for juniper.

    Today there are numerous origins, styles, and flavor profiles that build on the juniper. London Dry Gin is the world’s most popular gin type.

    It‘s very different from jenever (also spelled genever). It is called dry gin because there’s no sugar to add sweetness.

    London dry gins also tend to be higher in alcohol: 90 proof as opposed to the more typical 80 proof. The flavor profile is characteristically citrussy, with lemon and/or orange peel among the numerous botanicals that provide the flavor. (Here are some of the different types of botanicals that can go into gin.)

    Beefeater, Bombay and Tanqueray are well-known brands of London Dry Gin. Gin trivia: While gin was distilled in London centuries ago, only one gin distiller remains there today.

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