When my mom, Betty, began catering in the early 1980′s, fresh peach and fresh strawberry pies were her first orders from a wine bar cafe near us which did not have a full kitchen. Patrons loved her pies so much that she expanded into a full catering business for several years – Mrs. T’s Catering. I was reminded how luscious her pastry cream was the other day when deciding to prepare it. She would spread a layer of this yummy cream on the bottom of her pies (in her already baked, hand-made crust), then pile high with fresh fruit. Her pastry cream recipe is in Tea With Betty and below.
I was a bit rushed and being lazy so didn’t pull out my mixer which is called for to finish the cream. I hand whisked instead. It came out beautifully. Reducing the mixer step made making this pastry cream truly quick and easy to prepare. So, if you have the book…note that you can whisk in the last bit of butter by hand and it works excellently…no need for the stand mixer (which I have to go drag out of a cupboard in my garage any time I want to use it.)
As I tasted the finished cream, it instantly reminded me of my mom and what a special cook she was. She sure had a palate for knowing great flavor using simple, quality, and fresh ingredients.
These are the petite vanilla cream tarts I threw together as a friend was coming over for a chat and a cup of tea…I just wanted a few bites of sweet to go with our tea and talk. Perfect…three bites is all one really needs of sweets to be satisfied some say…we had four bites
Searching my fridge, I found a small amount left of this Italian dark cherry topping that a chef friend shared with me. Using one cherry and a little drizzle on each made for a nice combination of flavors.
Toschi cherries are an Italian gourmet product using the highest quality cherries. They are really wonderful to finish a meal with too on top of a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
Recipe: Mom’s Homemade Pastry Cream Filling Makes about 2 ½ cups.
PREP: 20 minutes TOTAL TIME: 50 minutes (includes chilling)
2 cups whole milk
½ cup sugar
½ vanilla bean, split lengthwise, seeds scraped (or 2 teaspoons vanilla extract)
Pinch of salt
4 large egg yolks
¼ cup cornstarch
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
In a medium saucepan, combine the milk, ¼ cup sugar, vanilla bean and seeds, and salt. Cook over medium heat until mixture comes to a simmer.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, cornstarch, and remaining ¼ cup sugar.
Whisking constantly, slowly pour about ½ cup of the hot milk mixture into the egg yolk mixture. Continue adding milk mixture, ½ 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° F on an instant-read thermometer, about 2 minutes. Remove and discard vanilla bean.
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. (or my new lazy way…move pan off heat and whisk in the butter for one to two minutes, voila, done…proceed to cover with plastic wrap).
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.