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dessert CUSTARD CREAM repertoire {variations}


A repertoire of CUSTARD cream variations.
Smooth, rich, creamy and let’s not forget, absolutely, deliciously sublime.
Here’s my small contribution to assist you in your sweet delight preparations.



I've made countless desserts with some really wonderful and aromatic fillings.  

Since I get asked about these recipes all the time...
I figured it was time to gather them up in one place.  

Besides having made my share of custards for smooth, ‘yummilicious’ ice-cream...
I’ve become quite the fan of making a plethora of custard creams.  




I’m not telling you this post will completely demystify the vast selections of creams.
I will, however, do my best in clarifying a few and hopefully inspire you along the way.


What is custard?
It’s a mix of a very few fresh ingredients which turn out a very simple delectable cream.  
Mostly milk (sometimes whipping cream) is combined to a blend of egg (yolks mostly) and sugar.  
A splash a premium vanilla is usually the flavouring element. 

Depending on the use of this custard cream...
 it can be as thin as a pouring ‘crème anglaise’...a ‘sabayon’ or as thick as a pastry cream.

The satisfaction of having succeeded a custard cream will go...
a long way in offering your dessert with pride.

 These particular puffs enjoyed the company of a ‘Dulche de Leche’ pastry cream custard
For a dedicated post on cream ‘Choux Pastry’ puffs...refer here.


‘Classic’ METHOD vs. my way of making custard cream:
Most will make this popular cream through what I consider a longer method which has proven to be unnecessary on most occasions.
Throughout the years, I have been making custard very differently.  Quite a while ago I realized there was a more efficient way to circumvent the lengthier process of making ‘crema pasticciera’ the way it was first intended to be executed.  
It’s safe to say that my method is a fairly ’fail proof’ way to simplify the process.   
For those who have tried it...a less intimidating method has finally unleashed their desire to make homemade creams.

In making the basic custard recipe, I completely avoid heating the milk separately, unless infusing with a aromatic such as vanilla bean, anise star or ginger etc.   Otherwise, I do everything directly in one pot and a hand whisk.

For those who still want to continue doing it the originally intended method...more power to you.  
However, the extra tools and bowls along with that back and forth method of transferring a small amount of warmed milk -- beating eggs and sugar -- slowly adding warmed milk to cream -- beating it again with the flour -- then the cream goes back into the remaining milk -- on the heat it goes again -- whisking constantly several more times -- finally until a thick and rich cream is created.   Phew.....just writing it has exhausted me.  It’s no wonder some of my friends have backed away from making custard creams.  
This admittedly tried and true method used by some of our highly respected chefs is still a technique worth doing.  
However, if you’re willing to take a chance, try my method and soon realize that making custard cream is quite simple without fussing.  Your time and patience can then be appreciated elsewhere ;o)



With the holidays around the corner...
the following custard choices will hopefully be part of one of your desserts.  



Classic CUSTARD based CREAMS:
with several variations:

basic CUSTARD...aka crème anglaise (Vanilla custard)
{crema Inglese -- English cream}
This cream needs only egg yolks and starch is not required.
A custard that develops into a thinner, velvety, smooth cream.  
It can stand alone as a classic spooned (cold/warm) dessert or used to accentuate one in ice-cream, bread pudding or a sublime crème brûlée.
Note: First set of ingredients was adapted from the book: ‘Larousse- Best Desserts ever’


Yields about 3 cups (750ml)
Click HERE for PRINTER version for the first set of ingredients.

Ingredients:
(American / Metric measures)
. 4 large egg yolks
. 1/4 cup (55g) granulated sugar*  
. 2 cups (500ml) milk*** (low fat+)
. 1/2 tsp. (2.5ml) premium, Vanilla extract
***
another sinfully sublime variation:
. 6 large egg yolks
. 1 cup (250ml) milk (low fat+)
. 2 cups (500ml) whipping 35% cream
. 1/2 cup (110g) white sugar
. 2 tsps. (10ml) pure Vanilla extract

PREPARATION:
1. In a small-medium saucepan, hand whisk the egg yolks and sugar until a smooth paste has formed.
2. Add just a little quantity of milk and whisk to soften the thick paste.  Afterwards, continually whisk in the remaining milk until all is combined.  Note: this is one of the better ways to avoid getting curdles in the egg mix.   It will assure a smooth, lump-free custard every time.  It also avoids having to later strain it.
3. Over medium-high heat, start whisking the custard gently at first.  Once a very low simmering boil appears, a quicker whisking motion should take place.   As the mix starts rising slightly and lightly thickening, shut the heat and remove the pot.   The cream is ready and the vanilla extract can now be added.  Note: if there are any other add-in selections (see below)...this is the moment to combine the extra ingredient(s).  
4. Let the cream rest for about 15 minutes more while giving it a stir every so often.
5. Transfer the cream to a medium bowl and cover it with a plastic wrap touching the surface.  This will avoid a dry skin from forming.  When the cream has cooled at room temperature, transfer it to the refrigerator for a few hours to set until cold.  This cream keeps well for 2-3 days.


PASTRY CREAM custard:
Italian 'Crema Pasticcera'...
or as the French call ‘la Crème pâtissière’ 
The use of WHOLE eggs and starch is required in order to achieve a thicker cream.
NOTE: It’s always best to prepare this cream the day before.
This version was initiated by my Mom and I’ve pushed the recipe a little further with time ;o)


Yields about 3 cups (750ml)
Click HERE for PRINTER version for the first set of ingredients.

Ingredients:
(American / Metric measures)
. 2 large, whole eggs
. 1/2 cup (110g) granulated sugar*  
. 1/2 cup (75g) unbleached all-purpose flour**  
. pinch of sea salt
. 2 cups (500ml) milk*** (low fat+)
. 1/2 tsp. (2.5ml) premium, Vanilla extract
***

NOTE: There's also another version of the Crème pâtissière’
...with the use of EGG YOLKS and saltless.
Try both versions and decide on your favourite.
. 6 large egg yolks
. 1/2 cup (110g) granulated sugar*  
. 6 Tbsps. (36g) unbleached all-purpose flour**
. 2 cups (500ml) milk (low fat+)***
. 1 Tbsp. (15ml) premium, Vanilla extract

* Sweetness desired: If you’re not sure how sweet you want the cream...start with half the quantity mentioned and work your way up from there.  Note: the quantity in this recipe is generally a good balance.
** Starch for a GLUTEN-FREE version: use Cornstarch (corn flour), or Arrowroot.  Note: less quantity is needed.  Generally use half the amount instead.
*** Regular cow’s milk can also be replaced successfully with: Almond milk, Goat milk or Rice milk without much altering of the initial intention of the cream.

Note-1: some recipes include butter to be added at the very end when cream is done and removed from the heat.  I personally don’t add it.  However, if you wish to try it...just add 1 tsp.(5ml) of butter for the quantity of cream in this recipe.
Note-2: Making the custard with infused Vanilla Bean...refer to the ‘Flavour Variations List’ below.  A different method is used.
Note-3: An EGGLESS version can also be made.  It will be a thinner pastry cream, more like a ‘Béchamel’ type cream.  Lighter, smooth and flavourful nonetheless.

PREPARATION:
1. In a small-medium saucepan, hand whisk the eggs, sugar, salt and flour all at once until a smooth paste has formed.
2. Add just a little quantity of milk and whisk to soften the thick paste.   Afterwards, continually whisk in the remaining milk until all is combined.  Note: this is one of the better ways to avoid getting curdles in the egg mix.   It will assure a smooth, lump-free cream every time.  It also avoids having to later strain it.
3. Over medium-high heat, start whisking the custard gently at first.  Once a very low simmering boil appears, a quicker whisking motion should take place.   As the mix starts rising slightly and lightly thickening, an evident ribbon trail will follow.  This is the indication that the cream is ready.   
4. Remove the pot from the heat.   Note: if there are any add-in selections...this is the moment to combine the extra ingredient(s).  
5. Let the cream rest for about 15 minutes more while giving it a stir every so often.
6. Transfer the cream to a medium bowl and cover it with a plastic wrap touching the surface.  This will avoid a dry skin from forming.  When the cream has cooled at room temperature, transfer it to the refrigerator for a few hours to set until cold and thickened.  This cream keeps well for 2-3 days.



FLAVOUR VARIATIONS:
General notes: 
. The vanilla extract remains in most recipes unless, otherwise indicated.  
Add this flavouring only at the very end when cream is removed from the heat.
Follow the same cooking method for all and make sure to add or place the ingredients as mentioned.

Other welcomed additions: 
. Fold in a 1 cup (250ml) of whipped cream after the base cream had been refrigerated overnight.
. 1 finely zested orange usually pairs well with most of the variations mentioned below.




-- ANISE STAR (infused milk):
. Use two fresh anise stars.
. Before starting the custard, put together the milk and the anise stars together in a medium saucepan.  Warm the milk on medium-low heat.  Once a very light simmer has surfaced and tiny bubbles appear around the edges of the pot, remove from the heat.   Let the anise infused milk rest for about 15 more minutes while the other ingredients are being prepared.  Once, ready to use the infused milk...remove the stars.
- Proceed with the recipe above, except for one thing that will have to go differently.  The milk will be added gradually in smaller quantities in order not to cook the egg yolk. 
-- BUTTERSCOTCH:
. REPLACE all granulated, white sugar with 3/4 cup (165g) dark brown sugar, packed.
. Once the basic cream is off the heat...ADD 1 tbsp. (15ml) unsalted butter and a good pinch of sea salt.
-- CARAMEL:
. Make the sweetness adjustment by using only half the quantity of granulated sugar mentioned in the base recipe.
. Once the basic cream is off the heat...ADD 1/4 cup (50ml) caramel spread and stir until combined. 
-- CHOCOLATE:
. ADD 1 tbsp. (15ml) premium, unsweetened cocoa powder at the same time as the flour.
. Make the sweetness adjustment by adding an extra 4 tbsp./ 1/4cup (55g) of granulated sugar.
. Once the basic cream is removed from the heat...ADD 2 oz. (50g) bittersweet 65-70% chocolate 
-- CITRUS: LEMON or ORANGE:
(Base version with a light perfume of a CITRUS flavour INFUSION)
. Once all the milk has been poured...ADD the peel of 1 small lemon or orange.  Note: When peeling, make sure to avoid the interior’s undesirable white 'pith'.   Very finely zested peel can also be added.
. If desired, a few drops of orange or lemon based liquors can also be added for extra flavour.
. Omit the vanilla extract
-- COFFEE:
. ADD 1 tbsp. (15ml) instant coffee granules at the same time as the flour.
. Make the sweetness adjustment by adding an extra 4 tbsp./ 1/4cup (55g) of granulated sugar.
-- ‘DULCHE de LECHE’:
. Make the sweetness adjustment by using only half [4 tbsp. or 1/4 cup (55g)] the quantity of granulated sugar mentioned in the base recipe.
. Once the basic cream is off the heat...ADD 1/2 cup (125ml) ’dulche de leche’ (room temp.) and stir until combined. 
-- FRUIT JAMS and MARMALADE:
. When the base custard cream has reached room temperature...ADD about 1/2 cup (125ml) of desired fruit Jam or Marmalade which was taken out beforehand and kept at room temperature.   Afterwards, chill as mentioned in the recipe.
-- GINGER (infused milk):
. Cut for 1/4 cup (55g) worth of sliced fresh, peeled Ginger .
. Before starting the custard, put together the milk and the Ginger slices together in a medium saucepan.  Warm the milk on medium-low heat.  Once a very light simmer has surfaced and tiny bubbles appear around the edges of the pot, remove from the heat.   Let the Ginger infused milk rest for about 15 more minutes while the other ingredients are being prepared.  Once, ready to use the infused milk...remove the Ginger slices.
- Proceed with the recipe above, except for one thing that will have to go differently.  The milk will be added gradually in smaller quantities in order not to cook the egg yolk. 
-- VANILLA BEAN (infused milk):
. Omit the recipe’s vanilla extract
. 1 whole Vanilla bean is required.
. Before starting the custard, put together the milk, the split Vanilla bean and its scraped out seeds together in a medium saucepan.  Warm the milk on medium-low heat.  Once a very light simmer has surfaced and tiny bubbles appear around the edges of the pot, remove from the heat.   Let the Vanilla bean infused milk rest for about 15 more minutes while the other ingredients are being prepared.  Once, ready to use the infused milk...remove the bean.  The seeds can remain.
- Proceed with the recipe above, except for one thing that will have to go differently.  The milk will be added gradually in smaller quantities in order not to cook the egg yolk. 
-- SABAYON ‘ Zabaglione’:
. Omit the recipe’s vanilla extract
. Once the basic cream is off the heat...ADD 2 tbsp. (30ml) of dry Marsala wine and stir until combined. Other choices that can be selected: Grand Marnier, Madeira and a Sherry fortified wine.

***

Crema Chantilly
aka
 {crema diplomatica}
...a union of 2 creams


A ‘classic’ custard ITALIAN pastry cream...‘Crema PASTICCERA’
with the classic’  whipped FRENCH cream...‘Crème CHANTILLY‘.
Italians who have grown up devouring this blended ‘diplomatic’ cream in their favourite desserts indirectly brought confusion to a popular French classic ...‘Crème CHANTILLY‘ whipped cream.

La Crema Chantilly, also named ‘La Crema Diplomatica’  is essentially a fabulous union between the two cream delicacies.  They found a way to blissfully get along ;o)
This lusciously scrumptious cream is essentially a blend of  2/3 quantity of ‘Crema PASTICCERA’ and 1/3 quantity of ‘Crème CHANTILLY‘.     Fold the ‘Chantilly’ cream gently into the ‘Italian pastry cream’ until all is combined.   Note:  If a lighter and smoother consistency is desired...an equal amount of both cream will please you.



Crème CHANTILLY cream 
...to then be folded into the ‘Crema PASTICCERA’ 
Yields about 2 cups (500ml)
Click HERE for PRINTER version
Ingredients:
(American / Metric measures)
. 1 cup (250ml) Whipping cream (35%)
. 1/2 cup (45g) confectioner’s sugar 
. 1/2 tsp (2.5ml) premium Vanilla extract*
. ice (enough to fill and hold the whipping cream bowl)

* Brandy has been known to have replaced vanilla with a special resulting flavour.

Preparation:
1. Prepare a large-sized bowl filled with ice to receive the cold preparation in the medium-sized bowl filled with whipping cream. 
2. With an electric mixer, beat the cream on low speed until it becomes fluffy and starts holding its shape.  At this point, gradually beat in the sugar and lastly the vanilla.  It’s now ready to serve or to be briefly (2hrs. max.) chilled in the refrigerator.  This particular cream is best devoured as soon as possible.   It is not suggested to make this ahead of time.
***



SABAYON...Zabaione/Zabaglione cream
An Italian, light custard cream principally based on egg yolks, sugar and an added sweet wine such as 'Marsala’ or ‘Moscato‘.  
It’s whipped over a ‘bain-marie’, while lots of air is whisked into this sublime cream.

This particular recipe was adapted from the Book: 
‘LaVarenne Pratique‘...by Anne Willan

Note: there are a few variations...however, this is a fine basic dependable recipe.

Yields about 1 cup (250ml)
Click HERE for PRINTER version
Ingredients:
(American / Metric measures)
. 3 large egg yolks
. 3 Tbsps. (42g) granulated sugar
. 6 Tbsps. (90ml) Marsala wine* 

* Other flavour choices:  Grand Marnier, Madeira, Sherry and also Espresso brewed coffee.

Preparation:
1. In a large glass or stainless steel bowl, whisk the egg yolks and sugar.  The Marsala should be incorporated last.  Then set over a pot of hot, simmering water and whisk until the custard becomes lightened and thick enough to leave ribbon trails behind.  This should take about 5 minutes of constant whisking.  Note: make sure the water doesn’t get too hot...otherwise, the cream will turn grainy.  
2. This velvety cream sauce can either be served warm or have it cooled.  Note: If serving it cold, don’t forget to whisk it every so often, otherwise it will start separating.  Enjoy with fruits, sponge cake, lady fingers and as an ice-cream topping.



In truth, when dessert foundations holding the custard turn out less than perfect...a wonderful cream can usually save the day.  

As I continue to experiment and create more exciting flavours...I'll certainly be coming back to add them here.  
There will be many more custard cream derived recipes to share with you in the near future.  I promise to put a smile on your tummies with a few Ricotta cheese and whipping cream additions. 

Hope this selection has got you running for your whisk.

Have a wonderful time preparing all the holiday goodies to come.

Flavourful wishes,
Foodessa

Comments ...???... or suggestions ... write me :o)
Claudia at:  foodessa [at] gmail [dot] com

Go HERE for more SWEET creations.






Please take note on how I bake and cook...
Here’s a 101 of sorts to make sure that there are no disappointments when trying my creations.  
Also...just so you know...feel free to increase the salt and sweet factor since I'm not high on either of them ;o)
. Use DRY cup measurements for...you guessed it...all DRY ingredients.
Anything DRY gets measured by spooning the overfilled ingredient (never shake the cup) and then level off with a flat edged tool.  Exception...Brown sugar should be packed in and leveled.
. Use LIQUID cup measurements for...all LIQUIDS that cannot be leveled like for example butter, yogurt...etc.  Measure the liquids at eye level to avoid overdoing what the recipe truly needs.
OVENS are unfortunately not created equal.  Mine is so old that it has reached many degrees off it's norm.  It's really worth investing a few dollars to test yours with an appropriate oven thermometer.  You'd be surprised how many ovens I've heard about not being where they should have been.  Before you lose any more ingredients and much time preparing a new recipe...run to the store...you'll thank me later. 

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