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lightened pastry cream filling in éclair

How to make Lightened Pastry Cream

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Lightened pastry cream is also known as crème madame or crème légère in French baking circles. Don’t you just love these fancy names?! Crème Madame! It’s easy to forget we are in fact talking about food! Have you ever heard of this famous “Crème Madame”?! Ok, I’ll stop now! But really, don’t let the name confuse you. You have almost certainly tried it as it is simply a lighter and airier version of pastry cream.

If you find pastry cream slightly denser than you would like or you just realized you won’t have enough pastry cream to fill all your choux, add some whipped cream and you’re done!

lightened pastry cream filling in éclair

Is Crème Madame The Same As Crème Diplomate (Diplomat Cream)?

Almost. They are both made of pastry cream that is lightened with whipped cream. But the diplomat cream also contains gelatin which makes it a better choice when you are looking for a more stable cream that will hold its shape well. Crème madame on the other hand, is perfect if you don’t want to use gelatin and if you plan on using it as a filling in éclairs for example.

There does seem to be some confusion though between these two creams and the names are sometimes used interchangeably.

Adding Whipped Cream To Pastry Cream

How much whipped cream to add depends on how light you want your cream to be. The more whipped cream you use, the lighter and airier your cream will be.

Since you won’t be using any gelatin to stabilize the crème madame, the heavy cream should be whipped until medium-stiff peaks form (as opposed to soft peaks for the diplomat cream). Be careful not to overwhip it though. The peaks formed shouldn’t be very stiff since you need to be able to incorporate it into the pastry cream.

What Can Crème Madame Be Used For?

Crème madame can be used as a substitute for pastry cream whenever firmness is not required. It is perfect in choux, éclairs, millefeuille or even on its own. Since it is not very thick, you should be careful when you pour it into a piping bag. Don’t forget to turn the piping bag (just above the tip) when filling so it doesn’t leak and use a small piping tip.

Can Lightened Pastry Cream Be Made In Advance?

Since the crème madame does not contain gelatin (unlike the diplomat cream), the air bubbles created when whipping the heavy cream will not hold well and the cream will lose its airiness quickly. You can prepare however the pastry cream in advance and store it in an airtight container for up to 2 days. When you are ready to serve (or eat!) your dessert, whip the cold heavy cream and fold it into the pastry cream.

Making Lightened Pastry Cream

We previously discussed all about whipped cream when we were making chantilly for our profiteroles. We saw what type of cream to use and what happens when you whip it.

Today, we’ll be whipping the cold heavy cream to medium-stiff peaks: when you hold the whisk up, the cream forms a peak that holds its shape and tilts very slightly at the top.

Whipping cream

Let’s quickly go through the process of whipping cream again. The heavy cream will initially get foamy, then slightly thicker but still loose. You’ll then start seeing the whisk trail in the cream as you are whipping. Peaks formed will initially melt back onto themselves. Finally, the cream will be thick, and the peaks will hold when you lift the whisk. Your whipped cream is ready. Time to add the pastry cream.

Adding pastry cream

The pastry cream was covered when we prepared our strawberry tart. If you missed it, you can go back and check the step-by-step tutorials.

So, assuming your pastry cream is ready and has been refrigerated, whisk it again until smooth. I just continued using the hand mixer I had for the chantilly. Your pastry cream will look thick and dense when you take it out of the fridge so you have to loosen it a little (by whisking) before adding the whipped cream.

Now you are going to fold your whipped cream into the pastry cream in three additions. Fold in a third of the whipped cream and whisk. You don’t need to be extra gentle at this step. You are just trying to lighten the pastry cream a little more.

Then gently fold in the remaining whipped cream into the pastry cream in two more additions. You don’t want to deflate the whipped cream so use a spatula or a metal spoon and gently move it from the middle of the bowl towards the bottom and then up the sides. Rotate the bowl and do the same just until the cream is combined. You don’t want to deflate the cream so stop as soon as you no longer see streaks of cream.

And you’re done! You’ve just made a fantastic filling! Go on, taste it! Pretty good isn’t it?! Next up, we’ll be using it to fill our éclairs.

How to make Crème Madame (Pastry Cream lightened with Whipped Cream)

0 from 0 votes
Cuisine: FrenchDifficulty: Easy
Servings

4

servings
Prep time

20

minutes
Cooking time

10

minutes
Chill time

2

hours 

Also known as crème madame, pastry cream lightened with whipped cream will make an incredible filling for your desserts, such as choux, éclairs, millefeuille etc.

Ingredients

  • For the Pastry Cream
  • 120 g whole milk

  • 40 g heavy cream

  • 2 large egg yolks, at room temperature

  • 35 g granulated sugar, divided

  • 6 g all-purpose flour

  • 6 g cornstarch

  • 20 g butter, cold and cut into pieces

  • 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

  • For the Whipped Cream
  • 95 g heavy cream, cold (see notes)

Directions

  • Making the Pastry Cream
  • In a small pot, boil the milk, heavy cream and part of the sugar (about 1/3).
  • In the meantime, sift the flour and cornstarch together into the remaining sugar. Whisk to combine.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks slightly then whisk in the sugar mixture, until slightly lightened and thickened. It will feel creamier.
  • Very slowly add part of the boiled milk/cream into the egg mixture and whisk constantly.
  • Return the mixture to the pot and keep whisking on medium heat.
  • Once the foam subsides and the cream starts to thicken, keep an eye out for bubbles forming. When this happens, keep heating for another 2 minutes to get rid of any starchy taste and remove from the heat.
  • Add the cold butter and vanilla extract and whisk until the cream is completely smooth. Pour the cream into a wide container to obtain a thin layer. This will ensure the cream cools down quickly (to avoid bacterial contamination).
    Optional: If you notice there are lumps in your cream, strain your cream through a fine-mesh strainer into a wide container.
  • Place a piece of parchment paper or cling film straight onto the surface of the cream to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate at least 2 hours.
  • Put your mixing bowl and beaters in the fridge if possible at least an hour before moving on to the next step (whipping cream).
  • Adding the Whipped Cream
  • In a cold bowl, starting on low speed and gradually increasing it to medium-high, whip the cold heavy cream to medium-stiff peaks.
  • Remove the pastry cream from the refrigerator and transfer it to a bigger bowl if needed as you will fold in the whipped cream in the next step. Whisk it until smooth.
  • Gently fold the whipped cream into the pastry cream in 3 additions, being careful not to deflate the cream. Stop as soon as you no longer see streaks of cream.
  • Use immediately or refrigerate.

Notes

  • Make-ahead instructions: You can prepare the pastry cream in advance and store it in an airtight container for up to 2 days. When you are ready to serve (or eat!) your dessert, whip the cold heavy cream and fold it into the pastry cream. Use immediately or refrigerate for up to a day.
  • Since the crème madame is not thickened with gelatin, you should be careful when you pour it into a piping bag. Don’t forget to turn the piping bag (just above the tip) when filling so it doesn’t leak and use a small piping tip.
  • The amount of whipped cream is just given as a guideline. I wouldn’t recommend using more but you can definitely use less if you don’t want your cream to be too light and airy.
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