Catherine de’ Medici, an Italian noblewoman, introduced pastry cream or “crema pasticciera” to the French court in the sixteenth century. In turn, the French called it “creme patissiere”. While traditional pastry cream is made with eggs, sugar, flour and milk, contemporary versions of this recipe have added flavorings.
As a chocoholic, I created this pastry cream to satisfy my palate. I use this rich chocolate cream as a filling for cakes or simply served with berries. Rest assured that this is a definite crowd pleaser.
Active prep time: 3 hours (chill time)
Inactive prep time: 3 hours (chill time)
4 large egg yolks
1/4 cup granulated sugar
4 tablespoons unbleached, all-purpose flour
1-1/2 cups milk (2% is best – not too heavy and not too light)
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips, melted
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup fresh strawberries, stems removed and cut into fourths lengthwise
1 cup fresh blueberries
Powdered sugar and cocoa, for dusting
1. In a 3-quart sauce pot, whisk together the egg yolks and the sugar until well-blended.
2. Gradually and vigorously whisk in the flour, 1/2 tablespoon at a time, making sure that each addition is completely absorbed.
3. In a slow and steady stream, pour in the milk while whisking continuously until all the milk is absorbed.
4. Transfer the sauce pot containing the milk mixture to a stove burner set on medium-low heat.
5. Bring the mixture to a boil, whisking constantly.
6. Cook and stir the cream for 1 to 2 minutes or until it has thickened.
7. Remove the saucepot from heat and stir the melted chocolate chips and the vanilla into the cream. Mix until the mixture is uniform.
8.Divide the chocolate pastry cream evenly among four 4-ounce ramekins. Immediately cover each ramekin with plastic wrap and refrigerate 2 hours or overnight.
9. At serving time, top the chocolate pastry cream with berries and powdered sugar.
10. Set each ramekin on a flat dessert plate. Dust each plate with powdered cocoa and garnish with a strawberry and some blueberries.
Note: For more servings, just double or triple the recipe. Pour the cooked pastry cream into a porcelain or glass serving bowl, cool and refrigerate. At serving time, spoon the cream into individual bowls; dust with powdered sugar and cocoa. Garnish with fresh berries and mint leaves.
Variation: The milk can be substituted with soy milk, but the flavor will be different.
Text and Photographs ©2010 Nancy DeLucia Real