Simple Pistachio Pastry Cream

Get your whisks ready! We’re about to make a delightful pistachio pastry cream that’s sure to be the star in your pastries and cakes.

Recipe At a Glance

This pistachio pastry cream is super simple. We begin by prepping a Polish-style pistachio pudding, but with less milk, and then transform it into a pastry cream by first creaming butter and gradually adding the pudding.

The flavor comes from pistachio paste, which resembles peanut butter and offers a hassle-free alternative to homemade paste. However, if you have pistachios but no paste, you can easily make your own with raw pistachios.

This cream is excellent for filling cream puffs and other pastries. And it excels when piped between eclair patties or layered in cakes.

If you’re making this pistachio pastry cream for the first time, read the ingredients notes, step-by-step instructions, and tips. If you’re a veteran, feel free to jump to the recipe card.

Ingredients Notes and Substitutes

Pistachio pastry cream ingredients
  • Milk: Whole fat works best.
  • Starch: Use either 4 tablespoons of cornstarch or 2 tablespoons of potato starch for thickening.
  • Sugar: Regular white sugar is fine, but feel free to use whatever sweetener you like.
  • Salt: Needed to enhance the flavor of unsalted pistachio paste.
  • Pistachio Paste: The key flavor ingredient, essentially ground shelled pistachios. Avoid pistachio spread as it’s sweeter, typically contains a lot of oil, and is not ideal for this recipe.
  • White chocolate. White chocolate really enhances the flavor of pistachios.
  • Unsalted Butter.

How to Make Pistachio Pastry Cream

  1. Salt the pistachio paste. Measure out your pistachio paste and give it a taste. If needed, add a pinch of salt. Pistachio paste from unroasted pistachios might taste a bit bland, so about 1/8 teaspoon of salt for every 1/4 cup of paste should do the trick. Start with less, mix it in, and taste again. Keep adding salt until you get a nice, strong pistachio flavor without making it too salty.
  2. Pudding prep. Measure the milk and set aside one-third of it. Pour the rest into a pot, add the sugar, egg yolks, white chocolate, and pistachio paste, mix everything well, and heat it up, stirring often.
  1. Prepare starch slurry. In a separate bowl, mix the reserved milk with cornstarch, ensuring there are no lumps.
Mixing the starch slurry
Mix cornstarch and reserved milk
  1. Cook the pudding. When the milk mixture in the pot is almost boiling, pour in the starch mixture while stirring. Continue stirring on low heat until it thickens, then turn off the heat.
Adding the starch slurry
Add the starch slurry and stir until it thickens
  1. Chill. Place plastic wrap directly on the pudding’s surface to prevent a crust from forming, then leave it at room temperature to cool for at least 60 to 90 minutes. Aim for the pudding to reach room temperature.
Cover pudding with plastic wrap
Cover pudding with plastic wrap and let it cool
  1. Prep the butter. In the meantime, cube the butter and let it reach room temperature. You want both the butter and pudding at the same temperature before you continue. The mentioned 60 to 90 minutes should be enough.
Cubed butter
Cool down the cubed butter
  1. Make pastry cream. Whip the room-temperature butter in a bowl, starting at low speed and gradually increasing to high speed until well aerated, usually 20-30 seconds. Gradually add the cooled pudding to the whipped butter, one tablespoon at a time, mixing well after each addition until a creamy consistency is achieved.
  1. Taste test. Adjust sweetness with powdered sugar if needed.
  2. Refrigerate. Refrigerate the cream for at least an hour before use, allowing it to thicken and hold its shape when piped.

Tips

  • Learn. Ready starch 101 to learn more about thickening liquids with starch.
  • Chill on a plate. To speed up chilling the pudding, pour it onto a large plate or bowl. A larger surface area will help it lose warmth faster.
  • Mind temperatures. Both the pudding and the butter should be at room temperature. If the pudding is too hot, it’ll melt the butter, and we definitely don’t want that.
  • Scrape the bowl. Use a silicone spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl and incorporate all ingredients for an even mix.
  • Make it in advance. This pastry cream keeps shape for 3 to 4 days, so you can easily prepare it the day before you need it.

Usage

Here are a couple of ways you could use pistachio pastry cream:

  • Layered Desserts: Use it as a layer in parfaits or trifle. Layer it with fruits, cake pieces, or crushed cookies for a delightful dessert.
  • Stuffed Pastries: Pipe it into croissants, Danish pastries, or sweet rolls before baking for a nutty surprise.
Creamy streusel topped puffs with pistachio pastry cream
  • Cake Filling and Frosting: Use it as a filling for sponge cakes, cupcakes, or layer cakes. It can also be used as a frosting for cupcakes or a naked cake.
  • Pistachio Macarons: Use it as a filling for macarons for a sophisticated and flavorful treat.
  • Tart Filling: Fill pre-baked tart shells with the pistachio pastry cream and top with fresh fruits or a glaze for an elegant dessert.

Storage

Once prepared, you can store this pastry cream in the fridge for 3 to 4 days. Make sure the container is sealed tightly so that it doesn’t absorb any smells.

As mentioned earlier, the pastry cream keeps its shape well for the time you store it, so you can prepare it in advance if needed.

Pistachio Pastry Cream

Get your whisks ready! We’re about to make a delightful pistachio pastry cream that’s sure to be the star in your pastries and cakes.
Print Recipe Pin Recipe
Pistachio pastry cream
Prep Time:30 minutes
Wait time:1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time:2 hours

Equipment

  • 1 hand mixer

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cup milk ~300 ml
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 4 tablespoons cornstarch or 2 tablespoons potato starch
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 7 tbsp unsalted butter 3.5 oz or ~100 g
  • 2 oz pistachio paste 1/4 cup or ~60g
  • 2 oz white chocolate ~60g
  • 1/4 tsp salt to taste

Instructions

  • Salt Pistachio Paste: Salt the pistachio paste to taste if it lacks flavor.
  • Pudding Preparation: Set aside one-third of the milk. Heat the rest in a pot with sugar, egg yolks, white chocolate, and pistachio paste, stirring often.
  • Starch Slurry: Combine the reserved milk with cornstarch to form a smooth mixture.
  • Cook Pudding: Add the starch slurry to the nearly boiling milk mixture, stirring continuously until it thickens.
  • Chill Pudding: Cover the pudding with plastic wrap and let it cool to room temperature for 60-90 minutes.
  • Butter Prep: Cube the butter and allow it to reach room temperature, matching the pudding's temperature.
  • Combine Ingredients: Whip the butter until aerated, then gradually mix in the cooled pudding until creamy.
  • Adjust Sweetness: Add powdered sugar if needed for extra sweetness.
  • Refrigerate: Chill the cream for at least an hour before using, to ensure it thickens and holds shape.
Servings: 23 oz of pastry cream
Author: Marcin Skrzypiec

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