I had a revelation this week: pastry cream is basically pudding, with perhaps an egg yolk or two more. Both start off with a milk/sugar base, thickened over the stove top using some combination of cornstarch/flour/egg yolks then flavored with vanilla, chocolate or any other flavor of choice. This recipe, in my opinion, can pass for both.
If it looks like a green tea crepe cake, it smells like a green tea crepe cake, and tastes like a green tea cake, it still may not be a green tea crepe cake.
Truth is, I’ve never had a green tea crepe cake. And even though this looks like the famous Lady M green tea crepe cake, there are no crepes here. Just crisp wafers made with my trusty krumkake maker, matcha pastry cream and whipped cream.
I didn’t use any one recipe for this – I kind of threw things together that I thought might work. And while this worked out beautifully (though I did have a near disaster when the whole thing almost slid off as I was transferring it to the fridge! Pastry cream is slick, yo), I’m already dreaming up alternate versions of this: nutella swiss meringue buttercream filling? Salted caramel mousse?
Matcha used to be difficult to find – now you can find it at costco! I don’t use it that frequently so I’m still working off of the batch I bought a while ago.
Hope you enjoy! And if you don’t have a krumkake maker and don’t feel like buying one and make it with crepes instead, please let me know!
Pastry cream recipe adapted from King Arthur Flour.
- 12-14 6in round wafers
- 3 cups whole milk
- 3/4 cup sugar plus 3 tbsp
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 2 tsps vanilla extract, divided
- 1/4 cup cornstarch
- 1 tbsp all purpose flour
- 4 egg yolks
- 4 tbsp unsalted butter
- 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
- 1 tbsp matcha plus extra for garnish
1. Make the pastry cream: heat 2 1/2 cups milk, 3/4 cup sugar and salt in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir occasionally until sugar’s dissolved. In a medium bowl, whisk together 1/2 cup milk, egg yolks, corn starch and flour. When the milk is hot and sugar is dissolved, slowly add about a cup of the hot milk mixture to the egg mixture, whisking constantly. Add the tempered egg mixture back to the saucepan. Whisk constantly over medium heat until it starts to thicken. Remove from heat, continue stirring, and add the butter one tablespoon at a time. Add the vanilla and one tablespoon of matcha, sifted. Pour into a heat proof bowl, place a piece of plastic wrap over the surface, touching the cream so it doesn’t form a skin. Refrigerate until cool and set, several hours or overnight.
2. Make the wafers but instead of rolling into a cone shape, leave flat.
3. On an 8in cake board, place a small amount of cream and spread it thin. Place one wafer on the board, then one tablespoon of the pastry cream and spread it across. Repeat until all the pastry cream is used up. Carefully transfer to refrigerator and chill until set – at least 2 hours.
4. In a large bowl whip cream with 3 tbsp sugar until soft peaks form. Add vanilla and whip until combined. Take out cake from refrigerator and dollop generously on cake, spread to the edges, adding more onto the sides until it’s all covered. Garnish with the extra matcha. Cut out concentric circles out of parchment and place atop cake to get the pattern pictured above.
There’s a story behind these plates: we got them for free from our last CB2 purchase. I’m assuming because no one else would buy them. There are like 4 of them, all rectangular appetizer plates with quirky stick figure/food illustrations. This is the first time I busted them out. Somehow the bite taken out of the cream puff worked perfectly with this ugly little dude. I was inspired to bake these delectable cream puffs after purchasing Around My French Table by Dorie Greenspan. There’s so much goodness in this book. I was surprised at how much Moroccan cuisine permeated French food culture (as interpreted by Greenspan). The result is a multitude of really promising mezze/hors d’oeuvres, salads and other veg-centric dishes. The cream puff is made from a standard pate a choux recipe (minus one egg) – serving only as a vehicle for my silky smooth chocolate emulsion. Once I made and chilled the pastry cream, I started it eating it by the spoonful. I couldn’t help myself. That’s when I realized pastry cream is barely different from the more conventional pudding. Not the type of puddings that are thickened by just cornstarch, rather the ones that are thickened (and thus made more rich) by egg yolks. It’s great as a stand alone dessert. I piped these into the cream puffs using a pastry bag fitted with a long tip.
Now I couldn’t just leave well enough alone. It’s not enough to use great quality chocolate and a recipe from a James Beard award winning chef. I had to add a thing or two. In my case it was some instant coffee and vanilla. I added half a teaspoon of each. Next time though, I might try 1 tsp each and see if it accentuates or overwhelms the chocolate flavor. To be continued!
I’ll share one more thing with you: some of them I filled with jaggery (gur), or sap from date palm trees. If you’re South Asian you’ve no doubt seen this sweetener in steamed rice sweets. Or if you’re Muslim, with your pre-dawn Ramadan meal. Think of maple syrup, but thicker and slightly bitter. The flavor is sweet yet complex and pairs surprisingly well with cream puffs! I’ve been adding it to my morning oatmeal for a wonderful change up.
Recipe adapted from Dorie Greenspan.
- 2 cups milk
- 4 large egg yolks
- 6 tbsps granulated sugar
- 3 tbsp cornstarch, sifted
- pinch of salt
- 7 oz bittersweet choc melted (I used 4 oz bittersweet choc and 3 oz semi sweet)
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp instant coffee granules
- 2 1/2 tbsps unsalted butter, cut into small pieces, at room temperature
- Warm the milk in small sauce pan until it’s scalding (you see bubbles around the edges).
- In a medium saucepan, whisk together egg yolks, sugar, sifted cornstarch, and salt until it’s blended together. While whisking continuously, drizzle in 1/4 cup of the milk (to raise the temperature of the egg yolks). Then, in a steady stream, add the remaining milk and whisk continuously. Multitasking folks. A flat whisk is great in ensuring you get all the bits around the edges. Bring to a boil and whisk for 1-2 minutes more, until thickened (it should be thick enough to coat the back of a spoon).
- Stir in the melted chocolate, coffee granules and vanilla. Whisk until combined. Let stand for 5 minutes. Then add butter and stir until the mixture is smooth. At this point, I like to push the custard through a strainer to make sure it’s uniform consistency. This is optional. Pour into a bowl, cover and refrigerate until ready to serve (at least 20 minutes).