Creme Bavaroise: How to Make Bavarian Cream [2 Flavor Options]

Dive into the creamy world of Bavarian cream! This simple guide will walk you through creating a velvety, mousse-like dessert that’s perfect for any occasion.

Layered bavarian cream with cherry compote and strawberry

Recipe At a Glance

Bavarian cream, or crème bavaroise, combines crème anglaise and whipped cream, stabilized with gelatin. Crème anglaise is a custard that, when mixed with whipped cream, transforms into a mousse-like, pourable texture akin to softly whipped cream. The addition of gelatin ensures that the mixture sets firmly in the refrigerator.

Here’s a quick overview of making Bavarian cream: start by blooming the gelatin, then cook the crème anglaise. After it’s cooked, stir in the gelatin and let the mixture cool to avoid deflating the whipped cream.

While the crème anglaise cools, whip the heavy cream.

Once the crème anglaise is ready, gently fold in the whipped cream, and your crème bavaroise is complete.

You can use it immediately if you need a soft, pourable consistency (perfect for molds or filling cream puffs), or let it refrigerate to set before piping.

If you’re new to this, be sure to read the ingredient notes, detailed instructions, and helpful tips provided. If you’re familiar with the process, you can jump straight to the recipe card.

Ingredient Notes and Substitutes

  • Milk: Milk is the foundational ingredient for crème anglaise, and full-fat delivers the best results. Some opt for a mix of half milk and half heavy cream or use half-and-half for a richer, thicker custard.
  • Egg yolks: Egg yolks thicken the crème anglaise, making them a crucial component.
  • Sugar: Regular table sugar works well, but feel free to explore other types, like brown sugar, which pairs nicely with chocolate-flavored Bavarian cream.
  • Vanilla extract: The classic flavor for Bavarian cream is vanilla, and vanilla extract is the most convenient option. If using vanilla beans, infuse them into the milk as you would for crème patissiere.
  • Gelatin: Gelatin helps the crème anglaise and whipped cream mixture thicken and set after chilling. Powdered gelatin is readily available and easy to use, but if you prefer gelatin leaves, ensure you adjust the quantity needed.
  • Heavy Cream: Go with whatever brand you use for whipping.

How to Make Bavarian Cream

Step 1: Make Creme Anglaise

  1. Bloom Gelatin: Whisk gelatin with water in a small bowl and let the mixture sit on the counter.
  2. Boil Milk: Measure the milk into a pot and stir in the vanilla extract. Bring the mixture close to a boil, then take off the heat.
Mixing the ingredients
Combine milk with vanilla extract and bring to a near boil
  1. Prep Yolks: While the milk is heating, whisk the yolks in a large heat-resistant bowl, then stir in the sugar. Set aside.
  1. Temper Eggs: Gradually pour a couple of tablespoons of the hot milk into the yolk mixture, constantly whisking to prevent the yolks from curdling. Repeat this process 3 to 4 times until you’ve incorporated most of the milk. Keep stirring throughout.
Pouring hot milk into the egg mixture
Gradually add hot milk into the yolk mixture
  1. Cook Until Thick and Bubbly: Return the combined mixture to the pot you used for the milk. Cook it over low heat, stirring constantly, until it thickens and starts to bubble. We go with low heat so that the eggs don’t curdle. The downside is that it sometimes takes quite a while, even more than 5 minutes of stirring. Don’t rush this step.
  1. Stir for 1 to 2 Minutes: Once the mixture is thick, set it to the lowest possible heat and continue stirring for another 1 to 2 minutes. We want to ensure the yolks go past 160°F (or 71°C) so they’re perfectly safe for eating. Off the heat after those 1 to 2 minutes.
  2. Stir in Gelatin: Grab the bowl with the bloomed gelatin and scoop its contents into the creme anglaise. Whisk until the gelatin melts and is incorporated. Set aside until the mixture is warm but not hot anymore: around 105°F or 40°C is perfect.
Stir in the gelatin
Stir in the bloomed gelatin

Step 2: Whip Heavy Cream

  1. Whip: Pour the cold heavy cream into a cold (possibly refrigerated) bowl and whip until medium to firm peaks. Refrigerate until the creme anglaise is ready.
Whipping the heavy cream
Whip the cold heavy cream until medium to firm peaks

Step 3: Combine

  1. Prep Creme Anglaise. Pour the warm but not hot creme anglaise into a large bowl through a strainer. The strainer will catch any curdled yolk parts or anything else that hasn’t melted properly (say, when adding chocolate to your English cream).
  1. Fold Whipped Cream: Add about one-third of the whipped cream to the English cream and stir it together. That helps loosen it up before adding the rest. Repeat with the second and third portions of the whipped cream. When folding, be gentle, as you don’t want to deflate the whipped cream or overbeat it. Make sure you scrape the bowl so everything is incorporated, and the color is uniform.
  1. Use or Refrigerate. You can use the Bavarian cream immediately if you need it pourable (say, for a dessert in a mold) or refrigerate it for 1+ hours if you want to pipe it.

Tips

Here are a couple of tips that might come in handy:

  • Consider Using a Double Boiler: Try the double boiler method if you’re making just a small batch of crème bavaroise and need only a little crème anglaise. Set a bowl containing your milk and egg yolk mixture over a pot of simmering water, ensuring the bowl doesn’t touch the water. This method takes longer, but the gentle heat dramatically reduces the risk of curdling the eggs.
  • The Spoon Test: Your crème anglaise should be thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Drag your finger across the spoon; a clear path that remains intact indicates the right thickness. If it’s too thin, whip up another yolk or two, temper them with your existing mixture, and continue cooking until properly thickened.
  • Cold Plunge: In a rush? Cool down your crème anglaise quickly by placing it in a cold water bath until it reaches the desired temperature.
  • Monitor Custard Temperature: Keep a watchful eye on your custard’s temperature to prevent it from thickening prematurely. If it starts to set before you add the whipped cream, gently warm it just until it becomes fluid again, but be careful not to let it boil. Stick to low heat and constant stirring.

Variations

  • Chocolate Bavaroise Cream: For a chocolate twist, halve the vanilla extract and mix in 4 oz (~110 g) of dark chocolate for each cup of milk. Add the chocolate after the gelatin has been incorporated and stir until completely melted and smooth. Adjust the sweetness as needed. If opting for milk or white chocolate, reduce the sugar in your base recipe by one-third to half respectively.
Bavarian cream layers with cherry compote and blueberries
Two-flavor Bavarian cream layers topped with cherry compote and blueberries

Uses

Here are a few delicious ways to enjoy Bavarian Cream:

  • Desserts: Bavarian cream is versatile enough to serve as a layer in multi-tiered desserts, or as a creamy base topped with jam, fresh fruits, or pastry cream. The vanilla flavor of the base recipe complements nearly any addition, making it a safe and delicious choice for experimenting.
Rich layers of bavarian cream topped with cherry compote and blueberries
Bavarian cream for filling
Bavarian cream for filling
  • Tart Filling: It also works beautifully as a filling for pre-baked tart shells. Just add a layer of Bavarian cream and top with fresh berries for a visually appealing and scrumptious dessert.

FAQ

Bavarian Cream vs Diplomat Cream

Bavarian cream and diplomat cream are quite similar in preparation, but they differ mainly in their base ingredients. The foundation for Bavarian cream is crème anglaise, or English cream, which provides a rich, velvety flavor. In contrast, diplomat cream uses pastry cream as its base, giving it a thicker texture.

Bavarian cream with cherry compote and strawberry on top
Bavarian cream with cherry compote and strawberry on top

The rest of the process is pretty much the same for both. We add gelatin to help stabilize the mixture, fold in whipped cream for a light, airy texture, and either use it immediately for a softer consistency or chill it in the fridge to firm up.

Creme Anglaise to Heavy Cream Ratio

When making crème bavaroise, the key is to balance the liquids in the crème anglaise—usually milk or a blend of milk and heavy cream—with the amount of heavy cream you whip up.

You’ll find recipes with various ratios, ranging from one part milk to one to three parts heavy cream. There’s no perfect ratio; it all comes down to how rich and creamy you want your dessert.

If you opt for a 1:1 ratio, brace yourself for a luxuriously rich flavor, but keep in mind that it’ll require quite a few egg yolks. On the flip side, if you lean towards more heavy cream as I do in this recipe, you’ll get a lighter bavaroise cream and won’t end up with a mountain of leftover egg whites.

Either way works just fine.

Spoonful of bavarian cream
Spoonful of rich and velvety Bavarian cream

Just remember, if you tinker with the ratio, you’ll need to tweak the amounts of sugar, vanilla extract, and gelatin as well. More heavy cream means more sugar and vanilla to maintain that delicious flavor. And since gelatin helps set the mousse, more liquid means more gelatin. A good rule of thumb is to add about one teaspoon of gelatin per cup of liquid.

Storage

Bavarian cream and any dessert or pastry with it should keep for 3 to 4 days in an airtight container in the fridge.

Layered bavarian cream with cherry compote and strawberry

Bavarian Cream (Creme Bavaroise)

Dive into the creamy world of Bavarian cream! This simple guide will walk you through creating a velvety, mousse-like dessert that’s perfect for any occasion.
Prep Time: 40 minutes
Waiting Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 40 minutes
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: French
Keyword: Bavarian Cream, Creme Anglaise, Whipped Cream
Servings: 4.5 cups

Equipment

  • Stand mixer

Ingredients

Creme Anglaise:

  • 1 cup full fat milk ~240g
  • 4 egg yolks medium or large
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 6 tablespoons sugar 75g
  • 4 teaspoons gelatin ~12g
  • 1/4 cup water 60g

To Make Bavarian Cream:

  • 2 cups heavy cream ~480g

Instructions

Make Creme Anglaise

  • Bloom Gelatin: Mix gelatin with water and set aside.
  • Heat Milk: Combine milk and vanilla extract; heat until just before boiling.
  • Mix Yolks: Whisk yolks and sugar in a separate bowl.
  • Temper Eggs: Slowly add hot milk to yolks while whisking to prevent curdling.
  • Cook Mixture: Return to the pot and simmer on low until thickened, stirring constantly, then cook for an additional 1-2 minutes.
  • Add Gelatin: Remove from heat, stir in bloomed gelatin and whisk until smooth. Cool to about 105°F or 40°C.

Make Whipped Cream

  • Whip Cream: In a chilled bowl, whip the heavy cream to medium or firm peaks. Chill until needed.

Combine

  • Strain Anglaise: Strain the creme anglaise into a large bowl to remove any lumps.
  • Fold in Cream: Gently fold in whipped cream in thirds to maintain volume. Stir until the mixture is uniform in color.
  • Set or Serve: Use immediately for soft-set desserts or chill for firmer consistency that's pipeable.
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