Introduction to crèmes

I’ve decided to take a break from pastry doughs and move on to crèmes. My weekly butter purchase and intake is getting a bit crazy and, I suspect, so is my cholesterol level.

That said, I can’t imagine trialing and testing cream-based desserts is going to be great for my waistline either.

There are a number of crèmes (or creams) that pastry chefs have in their arsenal, and many are the basis of classic desserts like crème brûlée and île flottante.

Most start with a basic thickened cream or milk, and then have a number of ingredients added to create a different taste or texture.

This post will just be a basic overview of the top crèmes, and then I’ll start creating some recipes over the following weeks.

Foundation creams

These creams, along with basic whipped cream, are the foundation of many advanced creams but are also frequently used in their own right.

Crème Chantilly

Crème Chantilly is simply a sweetened cream made by adding sugar or stock syrup to thickened cream. It sometimes includes vanilla for extra flavour.

Crème Anglaise

Translated as English cream, crème Anglaise could be considered more of a sauce because of its fluid consistency, and is the basis of many ice creams and mousses. It is also what is used to create a crème brûlée and the custard base of île flottante (floating islands). Its ingredients include milk (and sometimes cream), sugar and egg yolk.

Crème pâtissière

Also known as pastry cream, crème pâtissière is a cooked custard that is often used to fill éclairs, choux buns and other classic pastries. It is made using milk, sugar, egg, flour and butter and follows a classic custard method of adding heated milk to raw eggs to create a thick consistency. Butter is added at the end for flavour.

Advanced creams

These crèmes usually start with a crème Anglaise or crème pâtissière base.

Crème mousseline

Crème mousseline combines crème pâtissière and whipped, soft butter for a lighter, more delicate texture. It is often used when the cream needs to hold up when a pastry is cut, for example a mille fuille.

Crème diplomat

Crème diplomat is made by adding whipped cream and gelatin to crème pâtissière.  This creates a light, stable cream that can be used in moulds or as a pastry filling.

Crème Chiboust

Also known as crème St-Honore after the dessert it was invented for, crème Chiboust combines crème pâtissière and whipped egg whites (meringue). Gelatin is also sometimes added to provide extra stability.

Bavarois

Bavarois, Bavarian cream or Crème Bavaroise, has a crème Anglaise base with added whipped cream and gelatin. It can be served as a moulded dessert or as a filling to tarts, cakes and charlottes.

Crémeux

Cremeux is crème Anglaise thickened with butter and sometimes gelatin. It is often flavoured with fruit puree, chocolate or caramel and used as a tart filling.

Now it’s time to start testing! If anyone has any tips, please let me know!

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One thought on “Introduction to crèmes

  1. I just did a macaron course and we made some creams for fillings, including a creme au beurre mousseline (I assume that’s the same thing) and one called a delice. I was amazed at how complicated and precise they are and think a key thing is the temperature of the sugar: I have ordered a proper digital thermometer as they are really cheap now and am hoping to have a go at home!

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