Creme Patissiere or Pastry Cream

Makes about 2 1/4 cups pastry cream

16 oz whole milk
4 oz sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
3 1/2 Tbsp cornstarch
4 egg yolks

Pour 13 oz of the milk, 2 oz of the sugar and vanilla bean paste (if using vanilla extract then add it at the end) into a medium saucepan.  Bring to a low boil over medium heat.

In the meantime, combine the cornstarch and the rest of the sugar in a medium mixing bowl with a whisk.  Add the rest of the milk and the egg yolks.

Pour half of the boiling milk mixture into the egg yolk mixture then quickly pour the whole thing back into the saucepan.  Whisk gently but continuously until thickened then whisk briskly for another minute.  Remove from heat.  Whisk in vanilla extract if using.  If not smooth then strain.  If you whisked continuously it should be smooth.

Transfer to a glass or metal bowl, cover the surface of the pastry cream with saran wrap and chill immediately for about 4 hours or until set.  I have been able to get it set in the freezer in about an hour but you have to be careful not to leave it for too long. It can be stored in the fridge for 2-3 days but does not do well with long-term storage in the freezer.