MAKES ABOUT 1.5 LITRES (6 CUPS) This is your most basic, most neutraltasting cream for dolloping on desserts and decorating cakes. Make sure you don’t over-whisk this, or you will split the cream and be on your way to making butter. The only way to remedy this, unfortunately, is to start again from scratch. 1 litre (4 cups) milk
6 egg yolks + 2 extra whole eggs
200g caster sugar
100g wheaten cornflour
60g chilled unsalted butter, thinly sliced
2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste OR vanilla extract
1 tablespoon Cointreau OR Grand Marnier liqueur
1 Microwave the milk in a large heatproof bowl for 4-5 minutes on the highest setting. Meanwhile, whisk the egg yolks and extra eggs with the sugar until pale and thick. Do not allow the sugar to rest on the eggs for any length of time before whisking vigorously, or it will pickle the yolks unevenly and create a lumpy mixture. Whisk in the cornflour until smooth. Add to the hot milk, and whisk to combine.
2 Microwave for 2 minutes, then whisk madly until smooth. Repeat this twice, or until the mixture is very thick and swirls stay put like whipped cream.
Cool for about 5 minutes, before whisking in the butter and vanilla until combined. Allow to cool for about 30 minutes, whisking enthusiastically every 10 minutes to get rid of any steam trapped in the custard and helping it to set. Cover with plastic wrap pressed directly onto the surface of the custard, and refrigerate overnight or until completely chilled before using. When ready to use, whip together the crème pâtissière and Cointreau with an electric mixer on high speed until silky and glossy. If you want the crème pâtissière to be lighter, whisk in some Crème Chantilly or even a tiny bit of milk.