Updated: Jul 12
Pastry cream or vanilla custard, also known as crème pâtissière in French, is a classic and versatile filling used in various desserts like éclairs, cream puffs, tarts, and cakes. Typically, this delicious custard-like cream is made with eggs and dairy. This vanilla custard recipe doesn't contain animal products or wheat flour.
Cooked vanilla custard or pastry cream
The original recipe uses wheat flour as a thickener. Since we are making a gluten-free and vegan pastry cream, agar-agar powder and cornstarch substitute wheat flour to thicken the cream, while nondairy milk and vegan butter replace the dairy.
With the growing popularity of plant-based eating and dietary restrictions, it's important to have a delicious alternative for this versatile pastry filling.
Ingredients You'll Need
500 g (2 Cups) oat, rice, or soy milk (Barista version)
120 g (2/3 Cups) sugar
55 g (1/2 Cups) cornstarch
2 g (2/3 Tsp) agar-Agar powder
One whole vanilla bean (seeded)
60 g (2 Oz.) vegan butter or margarine
In a bowl, combine the plant milk, sugar, and cornstarch. Mix well until the cornstarch dissolves completely.
Cut the vanilla pod in half lengthwise, then scrape the seeds. Add to the milk mixture. You may include the seeded vanilla pod in cooking to add more flavor.
Transfer the mixture to a saucepan. Cook at medium heat while continuously stirring with a whisk until thick.
Remove from heat. Let the custard cream cool for about five minutes.
Add the cold vegan butter or margarine when the custard is still warm. Mix well with a wire whisk or an electric hand blender for a smoother texture. Adding the vegan butter when the custard is too hot will melt the butter, which may cause the custard to split.
Transfer to a clean and dry container. Cover the surface with plastic wrap, then keep in the refrigerator for an hour until cold enough before using.
Mixing the ingredients before cooking
Quick and easy vegan pastry cream recipe
Compared to the traditional pastry cream recipe, which involves many steps, making an eggless and dairy-free pastry cream is more straightforward. All ingredients are mixed well and then cooked on medium heat until thick. That is easy and fast.
You must continually stir the cream during the entire cooking process to prevent the cornstarch from sitting at the bottom of the pan. It would take a little time to thicken the vanilla custard, so it won't tire your hands quickly.
Pistachio cream used for framboisier cake
Pastry cream variations
What makes pastry cream versatile is because of its many applications. Adding chocolates, coffee, or nut pastes will produce different variations for a specific usage. Here are some variations often used in cakes and pastries;
Pistachio Pastry Cream - add pistachio paste to a vanilla pastry cream, and you'll get a rich pistachio cream ideal for pistachio-flavored desserts.
Chocolate Pastry Cream - melted chocolate chips are added to the warm vanilla pastry cream to produce a luscious chocolate pastry cream.
Coffee Pastry Cream - coffee granules or extract is added to the vanilla custard cream to make a coffee crème pâtissière. It's used for making dairy-free and egg-free Tiramisu cake to replace sabayon cream. It's also used for filling profiteroles, eclairs, and other chocolate-based cakes and pastries.
A good vanilla pastry cream relies on the kind of vanilla added to it. Real vanilla beans taste better than artificial extract. The vanilla also compensates for eggs and dairy's missing flavor and richness in a vegan pastry cream recipe like this.
Try this recipe, and you'll be surprised how easily you can make a delicious plant-based pastry cream for your favorite gluten-free and vegan desserts.
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