Pastry Cream with Pomegranates

After making pastry cream for years, I found a forgotten box of Jello vanilla pudding in the back of the pantry. It brought up fond memories from my childhood, and so I pulled it out and mixed it up.

After the first spoonful, it was impossible to consume a second. The texture felt unnaturally thick and grainy, and the flavor spoke of ingredients one can barely pronounce. Once you have experienced fresh, homemade pastry cream, there is simply no going back to the box!

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Time: 0hr 15mins
  • Difficulty: Easy
3 large egg yolks
1 1/2 cups whole milk
In a 1-quart tempered glass measuring cup, whisk together until uniform in color and texture (20-30 seconds).

Tip: To separate yolks from whites, start with cold eggs (they separate easily). Crack each shell in half, moving yolk back and forth between halves, allowing yolk to fall into one bowl and white to fall into another. Cover and refrigerate whites for another use. 

Egg yolks are essential for a smooth custard. Glass makes monitoring easy in the following heating step.
 1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
Whisk together in a small bowl until the cornstarch is no longer visible. Add to the egg mixture; whisk to incorporate (15-20 seconds). Heat in the microwave starting on high power, moving down to half power as the custard approaches 180°F (it will thicken and coat a spoon). Remove frequently to gently whisk, scrape down sides, redistribute heat and test with an instant-read thermometer Sugar and cornstarch both inhibit curdling. At 160°F eggs are sterilized, but above 180°F risks loss of smoothness and curdling.
1 tablespoon heavy whipping cream
1 teaspoon pure vanilla
Whisk into custard. Push through a mesh strainer into a small bowl. Promptly seal the surface with a square of plastic wrap. Refrigerate 4-8 hours to age before serving.
Serve topped, or in layers with the fruit of your choice, such as pomegranate seed
Straining assures a perfectly smooth custard. Sealing surface with plastic prevents a skin from forming. Aging promotes smoothness in custards.

Testing Notes: For an extra rich version, use 5 yolks and 3/4 cup sugar, then add 1 tablespoon softened unsalted butter before whisking in the cream.

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