Classic French Chocolate Pastry Cream

Cookies filled with pastry cream

Glow Cuisine/Getty Images

Prep: 5 mins
Cook: 10 mins
Total: 15 mins
Servings: 4 servings
Yield: 2 cups
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
263 Calories
12g Fat
33g Carbs
9g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 263
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 12g 15%
Saturated Fat 6g 28%
Cholesterol 193mg 64%
Sodium 154mg 7%
Total Carbohydrate 33g 12%
Dietary Fiber 1g 4%
Total Sugars 24g
Protein 9g
Vitamin C 0mg 0%
Calcium 118mg 9%
Iron 2mg 9%
Potassium 213mg 5%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

There are some classics of the French kitchen which cannot be substituted or replaced by ready-made versions. One of these is the classic French chocolate pastry cream. If you have ever wondered why French patisseries are so loved worldwide, then pastry cream is one of the reasons. The smooth cream, whether flavored or not, is the (not so) secret ingredient. 

Chocolate pastry cream can be used in profiteroles, or cream puffs, napoleons, éclairs, tarts, and genoise cake. In fact, most French cakes and pastries often include the cream. This one is especially good piped into tart shells and topped with raspberries.

This recipe uses semisweet chocolate. If you want a stronger, sharper chocolate flavor then use dark chocolate.


  • 1 1/4 cups whole milk

  • 2 ounces semisweet chocolate

  • 3 large egg yolks

  • 1/4 cup sugar

  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cocoa powder

  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

  • 2 tablespoons and 2 teaspoons cornstarch

  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Steps to Make It

  1. To melt the chocolate, break the chocolate into small pieces and place into a glass bowl. Place the bowl over a saucepan of gently simmering water. Do not let the steam get to the chocolate. Stir from time to time with a wooden (not metal) spoon. 

  2. In a small saucepan, warm the milk over low heat until it is just hot enough to steam, no more. While the milk is warming, whisk together the egg yolks, sugar, flour, cocoa powder, and cornstarch until the mixture is completely smooth.

  3. Once the milk is steaming, add the melted chocolate to it and vigorously whisk until it is fully incorporated into the milk. Add half of the chocolate milk, again whisking constantly, to the egg mixture.

    Add the milk and eggs back into the hot milk, continue stirring, and heat it for one to two minutes, until the custard reaches 170 F on a digital thermometer and is thick. Do not leave the cream unattended at this point; it needs your undivided attention. 

  4. Remove the cream from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract, making sure it is fully incorporated. Chill the cream completely before using for filling your pastry or tart.