Friday, May 29, 2009

Italian Pastry Cream

If there is one taste that reminds me of my Italian childhood, it is Italian pastry cream. I remember as a child hovering at the stove with my mother or aunt as they carefully made this cream, a recipe handed down to them from my grandmother. They would make a big batch and divide it into three. With drops of food coloring they would tint one batch red and another green. They always left the last batch untouched. Red, white, and green are the colors of the Italian flag. They would then slice a sponge cake into three layers, drench each layer in espresso and sambucca, and then slather each of the colored creams on each layer.

I have to admit, I make this pastry cream and serve it to my own family instead of pudding. It is the one recipe I have that comforts, that brings good memories, that makes me die with delight with every mouthful.

In a pinch, if you want to make tiramisu and don't have mascarpone cream on hand, this is an excellent substitute. It is a nice variation.

Italian Pastry Cream ingredients:

4 egg yolks
1 cup flour
1 cup sugar
4 cups milk
1 lemon rind
1 cinammon stick

Place sugar, egg yolks flour, lemon rind (if using it), and vanilla in a sauce pan and mix together well.

In a separate sauce pan, scald milk.

Very slowly pour milk over egg yolk mixture, in a thin stream, beating constantly with rotary beater.

Continue cooking on low heat, stirring with a wooden spoon, until mixture reaches the boiling point.

Cook 4 minutes longer, stirring constantly.

Pour into bowl and let cool, stir occasionally to prevent skin from forming over the top.

If using it as a cake/pastry filling, chill (with plastic wrap pressed onto the surface to prevent a skin from forming) until very thick at least 3-4 hours.

But if you're anything like me, I like it while it's still hot.

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