Chocolate Pastry Cream

aka puddin’

I came a little late to the pudding game. If you have been following along for any amount of time, you know that I grew up in a only homemade, no convenience food home. Pudding stayed in its box, on the shelf of the grocery store. And…to be honest…whenever I had it a friend’s house, I kinda didn’t see the allure. Don’t even get me started on banana pudding–talk about gaslighting.

I knew pastry cream, because my mom would make it to put in her eclairs, but it took me a while to realize that pastry cream and pudding are basically the same. Except pastry cream uses whole milk enriched with egg yolks and butter, rather than only relying on cornstarch to thicken.

This recipe is very easy and will have you whipping up puddin’ on the daily. It is basically breakfast food

try and convince me otherwise

I enjoy it topped with gently whipped {unsweetened} cream or creme fraiche and a brandied or Amarena cherry for further indulgence


  • 3 cups full-fat milk

  • 3 duck egg yolks, or 5 large chicken egg yolks

  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar

  • 1/4 cup cornstarch

  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt

  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

  • 7 oz bittersweet chocolate chips or chopped bar (63-70%)

  • 1 oz unsalted butter at room temperature


  • Whisk the egg yolks, cornstarch, and salt in a bowl until they are well incorporated
  • Heat the milk with the sugar over low heat until it comes to a simmer
  • Meanwhile place the chocolate, butter and vanilla in a separate bowl
  • When the milk has simmered, use it to temper the eggs. This is done by slowly whisking the milk into the egg mixture to slowly warm the eggs.
  • Turn the milk and egg mixture back into the saucepan and heat on low, while continually whisking, as it thickens quite a bit. Once you start to see bubbles forming, remove it from the heat
  • Pour hot custard into sieve that is held over the bowl of chocolate/butter/vanilla and allow to fall over and melt the chocolate and butter. Discard any clumps of egg white remaining in the bowl of the sieve. Wait a few minutes, then whisk until butter, vanilla and chocolate are fully melted and incorporated.
  • Enjoy warm with a bit of cold cream, or place bowl over a larger bowl of ice water and stir to bring temperature down to room temperature. Place a bit of plastic wrap directly on top to keep a skin from forming. If you like the skin, skip that part. Place in the refrigerator for several hours or overnight to chill completely.
  • Serve cold with gobs of cream; cultured or whipped

Crepe Brulee

Pasadena is not all about rose queens and debutantes, or penny loafers and posh hotels. Along the edges, nearing the fringe Bijouxs and the Baker (that’s me); inspired by art & culture, the storied past of Pasadena, more underground than paseo more after hours than high tea, more pop art than prep school, created an unexpected gem. A confection well loved in the tea salons of Paris, transforms to lust worthy in the Altier of Bijouxs.
Bijouxs and The Baker met at camp and instantly bonded over immaculately curated bunk rooms think pendleton blankets, leather steamer trunks and vintage oil lamps and an aversion to mingling. It was no surprise to learn they both hail from Pasadena. It was an instant friendship bonding while breaking bread. Not clear who said it first, but both agree; Pasadena can be sexy and hip and well ahead of the curve. It just doesn’t want everyone to know. Now the secret is out.
Lynn and i have collaborated on an amazing dessert: preppy handbook meets laduree.
Lynn gray of Bijouxs is an artist in the kitchen. She brings a designer’s palate to food. When the light casts like chiffon in my kitchen, I close my eyes and wander my mind to the Bijouxs studio to watch my simple dessert of crepes and custard become art.

Crepe Brulee
Makes 1-9-inch cake

Green Tea Crepes
3 cups milk
1 tablespoon matcha (green tea powder)
4 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
7 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
6 eggs
2 cups flour

Place all ingredients in a blender and blend very well. Place in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours and up to overnight. Heat a 9-inch non-stick crepe pan over medium heat. Hold the crepe pan in one hand, while using a measuring cup or ladle to spoon a bit of batter with your other hand into the middle of the pan. Gently swirl the pan, moving the batter to make a thin pancake the same size as the base of your pan. Place back on heat and allow it to cook, but not brown. The top of the crepe will become dry. Turn and quickly cook the second side. Turn out onto a platter and proceed with the remaining batter. This recipe makes about a dozen crepes.

Raspberry custard
2 1/2 cups buttermilk
6 ounces fresh raspberries
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
6 egg yolks
1/4 cup cornstarch
3 ounces butter
Pinch kosher salt
1 tablespoon Chambord liquer (optional)
Whirl the raspberries, buttermilk and sugar in a blender until the raspberries are fully pureed. Pour through a strainer into a heavy saucepan. In a bowl whisk the egg yolks with cornstarch and salt. Heat the buttermilk mixture over low heat until it simmers. Remove from heat and slowly pour over the egg mixture while whisking the eggs. Return the mixture back to the saucepan, turn heat to medium and continually stir until thickened. Allow the custard to become a bit thicker than you would for a soft pudding. Place the butter and Chambord (if using) in a clean bowl. Run the custard through a sieve (to remove any lumps) into the bowl. Stir to melt and incorporate butter and Chambord. Continue to stir until the temperature drops a bit. Place a piece of plastic wrap directly on top of the custard and place in the refrigerator to cool and firm (can be made a day in advance)

For filling

Whip 2 cups cream with 1 tablespoons powdered sugar until peaks form. Mix in 50/50 with the cooled raspberry custard.

To Assemble

12-15 green tea crepes
1 batch raspberry filling
Granulated or demerara sugar
Brulee torch

Place one crepe on your serving platter. Spread a 1/4 inch layer of filling over the crepe using care not to go fully to the edge. Place a crepe on top. Continue layering until you have used all crepes and filling. The cake should be 10-15 crepes high. Cover and place in the refrigerator and allow to firm up. This can be done a day in advance.

Before you are ready to serve, remove from the refrigerator. Sprinkle a nice layer of sugar over the top and torch until crisp. Sprinkle a second layer of sugar and torch again. This will give you a nice thick crunch on top. Slice and serve while still chilled.

Chocolate Eclairs

While in Paris last fall Mike and I made a quick stop at Lauduree; a beautiful pastry shop known world-wide for gorgeous confections and beautiful tea salon. Only in Paris for the afternoon; arriving via chunnel from London in the morning
and scheduled on a sleeper train to Barcelona, later in the evening. We were making a whirl-wind day of it. While waiting in a very long taxi queue, I spotted a gentleman with a car for hire. Because it was Mike’s first time in Paris and we wanted to see as many sights as possible, in our short stay, I made a unilateral decision. A hired car was definitely the way to go. Thankfully Pierre was a good sport and negotiated fairly with me, despite my butchering of his beautiful language. As I waved Mike from the taxi queue, I saw a look I have never before seen; one that perfectly combined the relief he felt that we would be on our way, and worry that I had blown our entire travel budget on a frivolous luxury. He was partly right.
The day was perfect. We climbed the Eiffel Tower, stood under the Arc de Triomphe, glided down the the Champs-Elysees, spent hours in the Louvre, relished in a languid lunch with a bottle of wine, and shared afternoon tea with well dressed dames at Laudree. Drunk with culture and satiated with sweets, I eagerly purchased the Laudree Sucre Cookbook. It is a beautiful tome with a cover of suede, presented in a gift box so beautiful and full of promise, I tucked it away for the rest of our journey and promptly forgot about it. Recently I discovered this little jewel and became inspired. Which is why on a whim, I made eclairs.

Chocolate Eclairs
Bake the eclair shells up to 2 days in advance. If you see that they are beginning to get soft, you can place them back in the oven to crisp. do not place back in the oven once coated or filled. Once filled, they should be kept in the refrigerator until eaten.
Allow the pastry shells to cool completely, then dip in the ganache to cover the tops. Place in the refrigerator to allow the chocolate to harden. When ready to fill, spoon the pastry cream into a pastry bag fitted with a “filling” tip, push the tip into the short end of the shell and slowly squeeze the filling in. You will see the pastry plump up a bit, but be careful to to over-fill as the cream will push out through the sides and make a mess if you do.

Pate A Choux
1 cup water
4 oz unsalted butter cut into pieces
1 cup flour
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
3 extra large eggs (about)
Sift sugar, salt and flour together. Place water and butter into a saucepan Heat and bring to a simmer, you want the butter to incorporate into the water, not just float on top. Remove from heat and add flour mixture all at once. Stir vigorously with a wooden spoon, until it is all mixed together. Place back on heat and continue to stir until the mixture begins to come from the sides of the pan. You do not want to dry out too much, but you want to reduce the amount of moisture a bit. Stir over heat about a minute or two. Place mixture into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with paddle attachment. Turn mixer to medium speed to assist bringing the temperature down a bit, but not fully cooled. Add eggs one at a time, mixing thoroughly after each addition. After adding the last egg check for consistency. You want the mixture to be a bit firm, and sort of webby. When I say webby I mean it has a consistency where is stretches between the parts sticking to the sides of the bowl and what is on the paddle. 3 eggs should be enough.
Place in pastry bag and pipe in 6″ rods approximately 1″ wide, onto a lined pastry sheet. You can use this same batter for cream puffs, or deep fry for delicious donuts. The batter can be refrigerated for a max of three days before using.

Vanilla Pastry Cream
Bake in a preheated 425 oven for 15 minutes, then reduce the heat to 375 until the eclairs are browned and crispy. The interior needs to be dry. Let cool
6 large egg yolks
5 Tbs cornstarch
2 1/2 cups milk ( i used 2%)
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp salt
4 Tbs unsalted butter
For pastry cream: Whisk the egg yolks and the cornstarch in a bowl. set aside. In a saucepan, simmer milk, sugar and salt.
Once it is simmering, temper the eggs with the hot milk. Return to the saucepan and whisk continuously until the custard begins to thicken.
When you see large bubbles coming up through the middle of the pot, remove from heat. Pour into a clean bowl
(use a sieve if you feel you have overcooked), and stir in butter and vanilla. Place clingfilm over top and refrigerate until ready to use.
Allow to cool completely before filling the eclair shells.

Chocolate Ganache
1/2 lb bittersweet chocolate–chopped
1/2 cup cream
1 Tbs granulated sugar
1 Tbs corn syrup
2 Tbs butter
Heat cream with sugar and corn syrup over medium heat. Once cream begins to simmer and sugar is dissolved, pour over chocolate and butter.
Let chocolate melt and then whisk together until it is thick and shiny.