Need an easy to make, creamy chocolate filling for cakes, eclairs, cream puffs & more? Try this delicious chocolate pastry cream - AKA Crème Pâtissière!
Part of this ended up with a whole set of filling recipes - Stabilized Whipped Cream, Whipped Milk Chocolate Ganache, Classic Vanilla Pastry Cream Recipe, Whipped White Chocolate Ganache, and - today - my chocolate pastry cream recipe.
As with basic crème pâtissière, this recipe is a mixture of milk, eggs, corn starch, and sugar... just with added chocolate.
This makes a good pastry cream with a rich chocolate flavor, sort of like a high end chocolate pudding.
It’s a super easy chocolate custard to make, and can be used in all kinds of different ways.
You can use this recipe to fill any kind of sweet choux pastry, such as :
It’s a great option for making fruit tarts - arguably the BEST option for raspberry or strawberry tarts, specifically!
Use it to fill cakes - such as a Boston cream pie - or as a filling for an actual pie - a chocolate cream pie.
Or, you know, just eat it with a spoon.
Chocolate Crème Pâtissière is a super simple custard to make, and you should be able to find all of the ingredients you need in any grocery store.
A few notes for you:
This recipe uses actual chocolate - as a chocolate bar or chocolate chips, rather than unsweetened cocoa powder.
I find that doing so gives a better flavour and texture than using cocoa powder.
When it comes to choosing your chocolate, just make sure to pick a good quality chocolate. Whether chips or bars, lower quality tends to have ingredients that can cause grainy textures in the final custard.
Unlike something like a ganache, the main type of chocolate you use (milk chocolate, semi-sweet chocolate, bittersweet chocolate, dark chocolate) doesn’t really affect the final texture, so you can use them interchangeably.
You can even make a white chocolate pastry cream, if you like!
Like many pastry cream recipes, this one uses a combination of both eggs and corn starch to thicken it.
As far as eggs go, I use just the egg yolks, rather than whole eggs.
I’m just not a fan of what the inclusion of the egg whites does to the texture.
You can use any kind of milk you like for this recipe. 2% and whole milk tend to be popular, but I’ve also used unsweetened almond milk and coconut milk to make this, on separate occasions.
Finally, you’ll need sugar and butter.
I generally use granulated sugar, but you can use the same amount of packed brown sugar, if you’re using a milk or dark chocolate.
While I don’t use brown sugar for a non-chocolate pastry cream, I like the richness it can bring to this. Think about how brown sugar makes brownies and chocolate cookies better!
It just makes for an extra deep chocolate flavor, IMHO.
I use plain, unsalted butter. You can probably use a plant based butter, but I haven’t tried it in this recipe.
Chocolate Pastry Cream Variations
Chocolate pastry cream is delicious on its own, but the real fun comes when you start customizing the flavours.
Here are some ways you can add different flavours to your batch:
Vanilla is a natural compliment to chocolate, and there are a number of ways that you can incorporate it into your pastry cream:
1. Vanilla extract: Add 1-2 teaspoon of Pure Vanilla Extract to the pastry cream mixture AFTER you’ve taken it off the burner for the last time.
2. Vanilla bean paste: Add 1 teaspoon Vanilla Bean Paste to the milk, before you start heating it up.
3. Vanilla Pod: Cut 1 or 2 Vanilla Beans in half, lengthwise. Scrape the vanilla seeds into your milk - before heating it up - and toss the beans in there as well. Before pouring the egg mixture into the pot, remove the vanilla pod(s) from the milk.
Flavour Extracts & Oils
You can add 1-2 of your favourite flavour extract to the final mixture - after removing it from the heat for the last time.
Rum Extract is particularly nice with chocolate, but don’t stop there! You can buy Almond Extract, Banana Extract, Brandy Extract, Caramel Extract, Coconut Extract, Mint extract, Orange Extract ... all of which go well with chocolate!
Note: When it comes to mint extract, start out with a conservative amount. That flavour tends to come off stronger than the rest, and it’s easy to overpower your pastry cream if you use too much!
When it comes to using Lorann Flavor Oils, you’ll use them in the same way - after you’re done cooking it - you’re just going to use a lot less of it.
Start with ¼ teaspoon of flavor oil, add a little more if you like.
Mocha Pastry Cream
You can make a chocolate coffee pastry cream in a few different ways:
1. Add 1 - 2 tablespoon Instant Coffee to the hot milk, allowing it to fully dissolve before adding it to the egg mixture.
2. Instead of milk, use ½ cup brewed coffee and ½ cup heavy cream.
3. Boil some coffee beans in the milk - usually ¼ cup worth or so, and a bit more milk than called for.. Once it comes to a boil, remove it from the heat and let it steep for 10-15 minutes.
Strain out the coffee beans, measure your milk, and top it up with additional milk if needed. (You can lose some milk volume to the beans).
Re-boil the milk before adding it to the egg mixture.
To flavour your pastry cream with a cream based liqueur, simply replace half of the milk with your cream liqueur of choice.
Some flavour combination ideas for you:
Amarula with any chocolate
Bailey’s with any chocolate
Godiva with any chocolate
Tequila Rose with milk chocolate
Starbucks Cream Liqueur with milk or dark chocolate
Chai Liqueur with white chocolate
Baja Luna / Baja Rosa / Baja Tango with any chocolate
Dooley’s & Milk Chocolate
Non-Cream Liqueurs & Spirits
When using a liqueur that is not cream based, I like to replace half of the milk with the liqueur, and ¼ of the milk with heavy cream. That is to say: ½ cup liqueur, ¼ cup heavy cream, ¼ cup milk.
Some flavour combination ideas:
Grand Marnier with dark or milk chocolate
Limoncello with white chocolate
PAMA with white chocolate
Creme De Menthe with any chocolate
Creme De Banane with milk or dark chocolate
Jägermeister with dark chocolate
Midori & Creme De Banane (¼ cup each) with White Chocolate.
Want to use rum, whisky, etc?
Use up to ¼ cup of it, in place of the same amount of milk.
How to Make Chocolate Pastry Cream
The full recipe is in the recipe card at the end of this post, here is the pictorial walk through.
Before getting started, cut your chocolate into small pieces, if applicable. Place chopped chocolate / chips into a microwave safe small bowl.
Note: I like to melt it in 20 second bursts in the microwave, stirring well in between each. Once melted and smooth, set aside
Some prefer to use a double boiler - I’m not a fan. I find double boilers increase the chance of water getting into the chocolate and seizing it.
In a large bowl, use a hand whisk to beat the egg yolks together with sugar until fluffy and pale yellow.
Add cornstarch to the egg mixture, whisk until incorporated and smooth. Set aside.
Measure a little bit of the hot milk - about ¼ cup - and pour a slow, thin stream into egg-sugar mixture while whisking.
Continue streaming liquid and whisking until it is completely incorporated, and mixture is smooth.
Repeat with another ¼ cup of the mixture.
Remove sauce pan from heat, pour egg mixture into milk, whisking constantly.
Once fully incorporated and smooth, return egg-milk mixture to heat. Turn burner down to low heat.
Remove from heat, mix butter into the hot pastry cream until fully incorporated and smooth.
Add in melted chocolate, combine until fully incorporated into a smooth cream. Transfer to a clean bowl.
For Extra Smooth Pastry Cream
If you’d like, you can press the still hot pastry cream through a fine mesh strainer, into a separate bowl. (A medium bowl works fine for this).
This step is optional, but will strain out / break up any lumps that may have formed in your pastry cream.
For reference, I didn’t strain the pastry cream in the batch I made for this post.