Pastry Cream


1 1/2
cups half and half
tablespoons cornstarch
cup sugar
cup water
large egg yolks, at room temperature
teaspoon pure vanilla extract



In a heavy saucepan, warm the half-and half over medium heat until it begins to simmer.  Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, mix the cornstarch with the sugar.  Using a whisk, whip in the water until smooth.  Add the egg yolks and beat to incorporate.


When the half and half is simmering, slowly add about one-half of it to the cornstarch mixture, whisking continuously to incorporate.  Whisk this mixture into the simmering half-and -half and continue to whisk vigorously until the pastry cream thickens, about 2 to 5 minutes.  It is very important to whisk continuously or the pastry cream may form lumps.


When the pastry cream has thickened, remove it from the heat, add the vanilla, and transfer it to a glass or metal bowl with a plastic lid.  Stir the mixture frequently while it is cooling to prevent a skin from forming on top.


Refrigerate the pastry cream after it has cooled.  It keeps in the refrigerator for up to 3 days, but do not freeze. 


Makes 3 cups.