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Pastry Cream
Plain pastry cream is delicious spread in a baked tart shell and topped with ripe berries, sliced peaches or other fruit. You can flavor the cream with 1 oz. melted unsweetened chocolate, or with toasted grated coconut or toasted pulverized nuts.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 Tbs. cornstarch
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 egg yolks, lightly beaten
  • 2 Tbs. unsalted butter
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

Directions:

Bring the milk to a simmer in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Meanwhile, in a mixing bowl, stir together the sugar, cornstarch and salt. Gradually add the hot milk to the sugar mixture, whisking constantly. Pour the milk mixture back into the saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture boils and thickens slightly, 7 to 10 minutes. Whisk in the egg yolks, then cook, stirring, until slightly thicker, about 2 minutes more. Remove the saucepan from the heat and stir in the butter.

Let cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally. Add the vanilla, cover and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled. Pastry cream will keep in the refrigerator, tightly covered, for up to 3 days.
Makes about 1 1/2 cups.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Kitchen Library Series, Pies & Tarts, by John Phillip Carroll (Time-Life Books, 1992).