Learn how to make delicious vanilla-infused pastry cream! It's plant-based, super creamy, and requires just 6 ingredients. Perfect for fruit tarts, donuts, shortcakes, and more!
Pastry cream can be used in so many desserts that I thought it deserved its own recipe!
It requires just 6 ingredients and about 15 minutes (not counting refrigeration), let's do it!
📘 What is Pastry Cream
Pastry cream, also called custard, is a French preparation used in many desserts.
Traditionally, it is made using milk, eggs, sugar, cornstarch or flour, and is flavored with vanilla. It has a thick, yet rich and creamy consistency and is often used as a filling in mille-feuille, éclairs, strawberry tarts, layer cakes, and more.
🥣 How to Make Pastry Cream
Preparing this vegan pastry cream requires basic ingredients you most probably already have in your pantry:
- Milk - The base consists of plant-based milk, you can use almond, cashew, or soy milk. Just make sure to use the unsweetened kind, and preferably one with no gums or thickeners.
- Starch - Then, to thicken, we use a combination of potato starch and cornstarch. After testing, it seemed that using only cornstarch gives the pastry cream a slimy texture. By adding potato starch, we get a thick yet rich and creamy texture without the sliminess.
- Sugar - Now let's talk about the sugar. I recommend using white sugar for this recipe. If you want your pastry cream to be naturally sweetened, you can definitely use coconut sugar or maple syrup, however I found these tend to overpower the vanilla flavor.
- Butter - To replace the fat from the eggs, we add vegan butter that also gives the pastry cream a golden color.
- Vanilla bean - Finally, the vanilla: use seeds from one vanilla bean or one teaspoon of vanilla extract. Fresh vanilla bean is obviously the best, bringing more freshness and aroma.
Simply combine all the ingredients together in a saucepan and heat over medium heat until it thickens. Next, transfer to a bowl or deep plate and immediately cover with plastic film to touch to prevent the cream from forming a crust.
Once your pastry cream is chilled, whip it for a few seconds in a stand mixer. This step is optional, but it helps give the cream the perfect texture: smooth and creamy!
🍩 Where to use Pastry Cream
- As a layer in fruit tarts: spread a thick layer of pastry cream on the bottom of a baked crust and top with fresh fruits.
- In layer cakes, strawberry shortcakes, or in pastries such as Mille-feuille, crêpe cake, or even yule log.
- As a filling for donuts, croissants, brioches, and more.
How long can I keep this pastry cream?
Vegan pastry cream will keep for up to 5 days in the refrigerator.
What is the best way to store pastry cream?
Store the pastry cream in a container or a bowl covered with plastic film to touch. This will prevent the top of the cream from drying.
My pastry cream is grainy, how to fix it?
Simply pass it through a fine-sieve mesh, you will end up with a silky smooth pastry cream!
🍰 More French-Inspired Sweet Recipes
Let me know in the comments if you try this recipe!
How to Make Vegan Pastry Cream
- To a medium saucepan, add the almond milk, sugar, potato starch, and cornstarch. Whisk to dissolve the starches. Add the vegan butter, and seeds from the vanilla bean (or vanilla extract).
- Heat over medium heat, whisking regularly until the butter is melted. Keep heating, and whisk constantly until it thickens. It will thicken once the mixture almost reaches a boil.
- Remove from heat as soon as the milk has thickened, transfer to a bowl or deep plate and cover with plastic film to touch immediately (this will prevent the cream from forming a crust). Let it cool for 20 minutes before transferring to the refrigerator. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
- Once chilled, the cream will have thickened even more, that's normal. Transfer the cream to a stand mixer and beat it on high-speed for 10-15 seconds. This step will make the cream smoother and a bit lighter.
- You can now use it to make your favorite desserts! Keep in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.