French custard cream (or Creme Patisserie) with fruit.

Creme Patisseries with fresh fruit.

I know, they’re beautiful, right? I’m calling these little things French custards, but they’re really Creme Patisseries. It’s essentially just pastry cream, but it’s delicious. I think really it’s a dessert in it’s own right. Why hide it as a filling- it’s perfection on it’s own with some fresh fruit.

That’s probably not what most folks would do with it… but I’m a loner, Dottie. A rebel. Most people fill cakes or cupcakes or eclairs with it, or Napoleons maybe. But why not just fill up a little dish with it and top with fruit?

I can’t think of a reason. I mean, it’s usually the creamy part of a fruit tart anyway. Just cut out the middle man!

Creme Patisserie (pastry cream) with fruit.

It’s also very simple to make, which is why I made these look extra fancy with some fruit and mint leaves.

See, I grow strawberries. And the strawberries that I grow are a very very old kind that was first grown in gardens in the 12th century. They’re known as Alpine strawberries. And not only are they a very old variety, but they’re quite unique. The ones pictured here are fully grown at just 3/4″ long. That’s right- they do not become those giant monstrosities you see in the supermarket. These are a “wild” berry, they do not send off runners either, they stay bushy and compact and adorable.

They also have a unique flavor; as ReneesGarden.com says:

[…] berries with an intensely concentrated flavor I can only describe as truly ambrosial. [And] their aroma and flavor are unmatched as garden berries.

And as written on this website:

Order strawberries in a deluxe Parisian restaurant and you’re likely to be served berries that are very small, very expensive, and also very delicious. Such fruits are not merely scaled-down or poorly grown versions of regular strawberries, but a completely different species—the near-wild alpine strawberry, Fragaria vesca.

Creme Patisserie with fresh fruit.

They’re fancy little things, huh? The taste is described as “pineapple, rose or floral” and they’re a much sought after berry. Probably because they give off very few berries each summer, and they’re so small. Given that there’s not much to do with a few beautiful, rare little berries, I decided to use them as the focal point of a dessert. Or at least the topping.

CREME PATISSERIE OR PASTRY CREAM (from Pretty Simple Sweet)

Ingredients:

  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 5 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 1/4 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, split and seeded, or 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together egg yolks and sugar just until pale yellow and creamy, then whisk in cornstarch and flour. Set aside.
  2. In a medium saucepan, heat milk and vanilla on medium heat just to a boil. Remove from heat and remove vanilla bean. Gradually pour the hot milk into the egg mixture while simultaneously whisking constantly until smooth.
  3. Transfer mixture back into saucepan. Cook over medium-low heat, whisking constantly and vigorously so that the eggs won’t curdle, until mixture thickens. Remove from heat and transfer to a medium heatproof bowl or pudding cups. Press a piece of plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the pudding to prevent it from creating a ‘skin’. Let cool to room temperature, then refrigerate until chilled. Creme patissiere can be covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated for up to 3 days. It does not freeze well. Whisk before using to get rid of any lumps.
  4. If desired, decorate each cup when well chilled with fruits or mint leaves, or a sprinkling of cocoa powder. Or, spoon it into a pastry bag and use it to fill a tart shell, cake, cupcakes, eclairs or cream puffs.

Creme Patisseries with fresh fruit.

I used thinly sliced nectarines, mint leaves, and those little Alpine strawberries to decorate these. I also put them in Brioche tins/molds to firm up in the fridge. Once I decorated them, I put them back in the fridge until right before I served them. You can use just about anything to decorate them or to flavor them with; raspberries come to mind as well as blackberries. And maybe a sprinkle of powdered sugar or a dollop of fresh whipped cream, too.

You can add lemon zest or alcohol like rum, Grand Marnier or Kirsch to it as well. And fresh jams or jellies make a great layering addition to it.

Creme Patisseries.

You could also do this same idea, but press some no-bake graham cracker crust into the bottom of each. Or use pre-baked pie crust pieces or cookies to make a “crust” if desired.

It doesn’t really need it though.

Creme Patisseries with fresh fruit.

Suggestions for use: Use it as a pastry/pie/ or cake filling, eat it on it’s own with fresh fruit and whipped cream.
Soundtrack: Edith Piaf – “La Vie en Rose”
Sources & Credits: Brioche molds; SurLaTable.com.
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