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Pastry Cream

This recipe for pastry cream, from the "Martha Stewart Baking Handbook," is used to make delicious Heart-Shaped Raspberry Napoleons.

  • Yield: Makes about 2 1/2 cups
Pastry Cream


  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise, seeds scraped
  • Pinch of salt
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces


  1. In a medium saucepan, combine milk, 1/4 cup sugar, vanilla bean and seeds, and salt. Cook over medium heat until mixture comes to a simmer.

  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together egg yolks, cornstarch, and remaining 1/4 cup sugar. Whisking constantly, slowly pour about 1/2 cup of the hot-milk mixture into the egg-yolk mixture, 1/2 cup at a time, until it has been incorporated. Pour mixture back into saucepan, and cook over medium-high heat, whisking constantly, until it thickens and registers 160 degrees on an instant-read thermometer, about 2 minutes. Remove and discard vanilla bean.

  3. Transfer to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the butter, and beat on medium speed until the butter melts and the mixture cools, about 5 minutes.

  4. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing it directly onto the surface of the pastry cream to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate until chilled, at least 2 hours or up to 2 days. Just before using, beat on low speed until smooth (you can also whisk by hand).

Reviews (5)

  • scrappycook 26 Apr, 2014

    I've made this recipe many times - it is delicious! I can't afford the vanilla bean, so I substitute vanilla bean paste and it tastes and looks amazing.

  • Kis Moni 7 Apr, 2013

    Today i've made this pastry cream for a crispy brisèe base, but i mix well the white of eggs and turn in the warm pastry cream, leave it to cold on this crispy brisèe and it's a delicious fluffy cream,yummy!

  • nesshawk 26 Jul, 2010

    Attention! This recipe has an error. In the ingredient list, it calls for 4 large eggs, however, in the directions, it says "whisk together egg YOLKS...". Nowhere does it say to separate the eggs (as well as having no reference to using the whites), and I would guess that if you use whole eggs rather than yolks, you would end up with a major mess rather than a nice pastry cream.

  • chocolatequeen 23 May, 2008

    I agree! I used 2% milk and it worked great! I did add an extra yolk and some Cointreau for good flavor. Also, I added the butter in small cubes by hand with a whisk and had excellent results.

  • NeatNickers 9 May, 2008

    This pastry cream is so good! It tastes like it comes from a patisserie. It's very similar to the cream in Beard Papa's regular cream puffs. I used 1% milk and it still turned out delicious. My boyfriend couldn't tell and ate it straight from the bowl.

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