Crème Chiboust, also known as crème St. Honoré, is an incredibly light and airy cream made up of pastry cream set by gelatin and lightened with Italian meringue.
It tastes wonderful served in cups with fresh strawberries. But it can also be used as a filling for choux pastry or in more elaborate desserts such as the St. Honoré cake.
How to Make Crème Chiboust
Making crème Chiboust isn’t complicated but it does need a little bit of planning. It’s best to prepare all the ingredients before starting as you will need to move quickly from one step to the other.
- Bloom the gelatin: Soak the gelatin in cold water to soften it.
- Make the pastry cream: Once the pastry cream is ready, whisk in the gelatin. Cover and set aside to cool down slightly at room temperature. The pastry cream shouldn’t be chilled.
- Make the Italian meringue: We’ll start by preparing a syrup which we will slowly drizzle over whipped egg whites.
- Combine the pastry cream and meringue: Fold the meringue into the pastry cream and use as desired before the gelatin sets.
- Milk: It’s best to use whole milk for optimal flavor and texture.
- Eggs: We’ll be separating the eggs and using the yolks for the pastry cream and the whites for the meringue. Bring them to room temperature before using them. There is a risk that the egg whites don’t get cooked properly when making Italian meringue. If this is an issue, use pasteurized egg whites (my preferred option) and add one teaspoon of lemon juice. The volume and texture of the crème Chiboust will be slightly different (not as airy) as they won’t whip as well. The recipe actually yielded 450 ml (15.2 fl. oz.) of crème Chiboust with non-pasteurized eggs versus 375 ml (12.7 fl. oz.) with pasteurized eggs! But there won’t be any difference tastewise.
- Cornstarch: To thicken the pastry cream.
- Sugar: You’ll need white granulated sugar to sweeten the pastry cream and for the syrup. If the crème Chiboust is sweeter than you’d like, you can reduce the amount of sugar called for in the pastry cream.
- Gelatin: To set the egg foam (whipped egg whites). I’m using platinum gelatin sheets which weigh about 1.7 g (0.06 oz.) each. Don’t worry if your sheet doesn’t weigh the same. It might simply be a different grade as there are four grades: bronze, silver, gold and platinum. Platinum is the strongest and as result, the sheet is smaller to account for the difference in strength. Ultimately, all sheets should be equivalent so just go by the number of sheets used (1 and 1/2 in this recipe).
- Lemon: We’ll be adding a few drops of lemon juice to the syrup when it’s boiling to prevent crystallization. I also love adding lemon zest to the cream. But you can use vanilla extract if you prefer.
- Bloom the gelatin: Soak the gelatin sheets in a bowl of cold water until softened (5 to 10 minutes) while making the pastry cream. Make sure the sheets aren’t stuck together during soaking.
- Prepare the pastry cream: Pour the milk into a small saucepan and add about a third of the sugar. Heat over medium-high heat until just simmering.
- Meanwhile, whisk the egg yolks with the remaining sugar in a medium-sized bowl until combined. Tip: Whisk as soon as you add the sugar to the egg yolks to prevent lumps from forming.
- Add the cornstarch and whisk once more to combine. Mix in the lemon zest.
- Gradually pour the hot milk over the egg mixture, whisking constantly. Don’t pour all the liquid at once so the eggs don’t get cooked.
- Return the mixture to the saucepan and cook over medium heat, whisking constantly. Once the foam subsides and the cream starts to thicken (it will take about 3-4 minutes), keep an eye out for bubbles forming. When this happens, keep heating for 1-2 more minutes to ensure the cream is properly cooked and to get rid of any starchy taste. If the cream is starting to stick to the pot or you notice lumps forming, reduce the heat.
- Remove from the heat. Squeeze the gelatin to get rid of the water and add it to pastry cream, whisking until fully incorporated.
- Place a piece of parchment onto the surface of the cream. Set aside to cool down at room temperature while you prepare the Italian meringue.
- Wipe your mixing bowl and beaters/whisk with vinegar to get rid of any fat residues (which would prevent the egg whites from whipping properly). Pour the egg whites into the mixing bowl. Set aside while you prepare the syrup.
- Place the sugar in a mini butter warmer (milk pan). The quantity is too small for a saucepan. Tip: Make sure the butter warmer is dry before using it. If there are droplets of water on the sides, the sugar might stick to them and crystallize.
- Pour the water over the sugar. You need just enough water to moisten the sugar. You could put more if you’d like, but it would take longer to cook the syrup.
- Place over low heat, stirring occasionally to dissolve the sugar. Try not to splash any sugar on the edges of the butter warmer. If you do, wash them down with a wet pastry brush to avoid crystallization.
- Once the sugar has dissolved, increase to medium heat and bring to a boil. Add a few drops of lemon juice when bubbles start forming.
Tip: It’s best to start cooking the syrup over low heat. If it boils before the sugar has dissolved, it is more likely to crystallize.
- When the temperature of the syrup reaches 110°C (230°F), start whipping the egg whites on low speed.
You can use either a hand mixer or a stand mixer. The stand mixer will make it easier to pour the syrup later on. But since the quantity of eggs is quite small, you might need to whisk the eggs by hand or with the paddle attachment in the beginning. When they start to increase in volume, switch to the stand mixer whisk attachment.
- Remove the syrup from the heat when it reaches 118°C (245°F). With the mixer still running, gradually pour the hot syrup over the whipped egg whites in a thin stream between the edge of the bowl and the whisk. Avoid the edge of the bowl where the syrup might stick and the whisk which could cause splattering.
Tip: You should ideally just whip the egg whites until soft peaks form, about 2 minutes, before adding the syrup. If the syrup is taking too long to get to the right temperature, increase the heat a little so you don’t end up overwhipping the eggs whilst waiting.
- Once you have added all the syrup, increase the speed to medium-high and keep whipping until the meringue is lukewarm and the peaks formed hold their shape, about 2 minutes. The meringue will be more flexible and easier to combine with the pastry cream when it is still slightly warm (rather than cold).
- Remove the parchment paper from the pastry cream and whisk to loosen it.
- Add about a third of the meringue to the pastry cream and whisk to lighten the mixture.
- Gently fold in the remaining meringue with a spatula in two additions, being carefully not to deflate it. Mix just until you no longer see meringue streaks in the pastry cream.
- Pour into desired cups and chill for about 2 hours or until set.
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