1) In a medium-sized saucepan, stir together 2 1/2 cups of the milk, the sugar, salt, and the vanilla bean. (If you're using vanilla extract or Vanilla Crush, add it at the end.) Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar.
2) Meanwhile, whisk the cornstarch, flour, and egg yolks with the remaining 1/2 cup milk.
3) Whisk some of the hot milk mixture with the egg yolks to temper them. This keeps the yolks from turning to scrambled eggs when you add them to the simmering milk.
4) Pour the egg/milk mixture back into the remaining simmering milk. Doing this through a strainer will help prevent lumps later. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly with a whisk, until the mixture thickens.
5) Remove from the heat and strain through a fine sieve. Stir in the butter and vanilla extract (if you're using it). If you're going to flavor the pastry cream with chocolate or some other flavor, this is the time to do it (see variations below).
6) Rub a piece of butter over the surface of the cream, top with a piece of plastic wrap (make sure it touches the top of the pastry cream so it doesn't develop a skin), then refrigerate until cool.
7) To complete, fold the whipped cream into the cooled pastry cream.
Butterscotch Pastry Cream: Add 1/4 teaspoon butter-rum flavor and/or 1 cup (6 ounces) butterscotch chips to the pastry cream after straining, stirring until the chips have melted.
Caramel Pastry Cream: Add 3/4 cup chopped caramel (7 1/2 ounces, or 21 to 23 unwrapped individual caramels) to the hot, strained pastry cream, stirring until melted and the mixture is smooth.
Chocolate Pastry Cream: Add 1 cup (6 ounces) chopped chocolate to the hot, strained pastry cream, stirring until melted and the mixture is smooth.
Hazelnut Pastry Cream: Omit the butter and increase the sugar to 3/4 cup (5 1/4 ounces). Add 3/4 cup (8 1/4 ounces) praline paste to the hot, strained pastry cream, stirring until combined.
Orange Pastry Cream: Increase the sugar to 3/4 cup (5 1/4 ounces). Add 1 teaspoon orange extract; 1/4 teaspoon orange oil; or 3 tablespoons orange zest to the hot, strained pastry cream.
Peanut Butter Pastry Cream: Add 3/4 cup (7 1/4 ounces) smooth peanut butter to the hot pastry cream, stirring until melted and the mixture is smooth. If you're using a natural or freshly-made peanut butter, omit the butter from the recipe, or the pastry cream will be greasy.
Pistachio Pastry Cream: Omit the butter and increase the sugar to 3/4 cup (5 1/4 ounces). Add 3/4 cup (8 1/4 ounces) pistachio paste, or blanched pureed pistachio meats.
Rice milk will be a bit thin, but coconut milk will work beautifully. Happy baking! Laurie@KAF
Hi Sharon, Unfortunately, there isn't any good way to make this recipe gluten-free as the chemistry of the stabilization of the cream would be very different. As such we would encourage you to look for a recipe for pastry cream that is written originally to be gluten-free. If you have any further questions, please feel free to call our Baker's Hotline at 855-371-2253 and we'd be happy to answer any further questions at that time. Happy baking! Jocelyn@KAF