How To Make Crème Légère

Crème Légère is the perfect blend of indulgence and lightness, ideal for those who love pastry cream but want something a bit less dense. It means ‘Light Cream’ and it’s made by folding vanilla pastry cream with whipped cream. The result is a lighter, airy cream that keeps the richness of the egg yolks and vanilla but with a more delicate texture.

bird's eye view of Crème Légère .

It’s similar to diplomat cream, which also uses crème chantilly (a lightly sweetened whipped cream) and mix of creme patissiere. Though, diplomat cream includes gelatin for added stability.

The lovely thing about having a traditional pastry cream base recipe under your belt is that it can turn into all sorts of versatile creams – Like this creme légère, or crème mousseline (mixed with whipped butter) and crème chiboust (mixed with with Italian meringue.)

a large bowl of Crème Légère .

Ingredients

Here’s what you need for creme legere. Find the full list of ingredients and amounts in the printable recipe card at the bottom of this post.

  • Egg Yolks: Provide richness and beautiful yellow color to the pastry cream. 
  • Whole milk: The base of the crème pâtissière.
  • Sugar: Granulated sugar to sweeten the cream, and powdered sugar for the crème chantilly.
  • Cornstarch: Thickens the pastry cream.
  • Vanilla pod or vanilla extract: For classic flavor. The vanilla seeds from a pod add pretty speckles.
  • Butter: ​For extra richness.
  • Heavy whipping cream: Whip cream to stiff peaks, then fold into the pastry cream for lightness. Ensure this is nice and cold before whipping.

Method

Make the Pastry Cream

hand stirring milk.

Step 1 – In a medium saucepan, heat the milk with the vanilla pod on medium-high heat until it is just at a simmer – don’t let it boil.

whipped egg yolks in a glass bowl.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk egg yolks, sugar and cornstarch until glossy.

Place the bowl on a dampened kitchen towel to stop it from slipping around for this next step. 

hot milk being whisked into egg yolks.

Step 3. Once the milk is hot, gradually pour it into the egg mixture, whisking constantly. This is tempering the eggs.

yellow vanilla custard.

Step 4. Return the combined mixture to the saucepan over medium heat. Cook the vanilla custard, whisking constantly until it starts to bubble and thicken.

Keep whisking to avoid the bottom of the pan burning and keep it at a bubble for around 1 minute. This is important to cook the custard properly so it stays thick once cooled.

Step 5. Remove from the heat and stir through the butter.

Step 6. Transfer the crème patissière to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap (directly on the surface to prevent a skin), and let it cool to room temperature.

plastic wrap pressed on pastry cream.

Prepare the crème chantilly 

​When the pastry cream has cooled, begin the cream.

Step 7. In a separate bowl, whip the heavy cream to firm peaks. Take are not to overwhip it or it will become grainy.

Whipped cream.
hand folding cream into pastry cream.

Step 8. Gently fold half the whipped cream into the cooled pastry cream. Follow with the remaining whipped cream, until there are no streaks of white cream remaining.

light and airy pastry cream.

Cover and chill the crème légère until ready to use.

Variations 

You can make lots of variations of Crème Légère by flavoring the initial French pastry cream first.

  • Chocolate crème légère: First make a chocolate pastry cream by adding 1 tablespoon cocoa to the egg yolk and sugar mixture. Cook the custard as per the recipe. After cooking, stir through 85g of chopped dark chocolate along with the butter. Whisk until smooth. 
  • Citrus-infused: Infuse the pastry cream milk with lemon or orange zest for a citrusy twist.
  • Coffee flavor: Add a tablespoon of instant coffee powdered to the milk warming step of the pastry cream. 
  • Almond crème légère: A small amount of almond extract can add a lovely nutty flavor.

Uses for Crème Légère

Here are a few ways to use this light and airy cream.

  • Fruit Tarts: A light layer in fruit tarts, topped with fresh fruit.
  • Choux buns and Éclairs: Fill choux pastry like cream puffs, choux au craquelin and éclairs.
  • Cake Filling: Between layers of light sponge cake, or in crepe.
  • Tiramisu Variation: A twist on the classic tiramisu, using crème légère instead of mascarpone for a lighter version.
spoon stirring Crème Légère.
birds eye view of a bowl of creme legere.

Crème Légère Recipe

Elien Lewis
Crème Légère is the perfect blend of indulgence and lightness, ideal for those who love pastry cream but want something a bit less dense. It's made by folding vanilla pastry cream with whipped cream. 
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Additional Time 4 hours
Total Time 4 hours 30 minutes
Course Fillings and frostings
Cuisine French
Servings 4 cups
Calories 222 kcal

Ingredients
 
 

Crème pâtissière base

  • 480 g whole milk
  • 1 vanilla bean or 2 teaspoons vanilla paste or extract
  • 65 g granulated sugar
  • 30 g cornstarch
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 45 g unsalted butter

Chantilly cream

  • 240 g cold heavy whipping cream
  • 15 g powdered sugar

Instructions
 

  • In a medium saucepan, heat the milk with the vanilla pod on medium-high heat until it is just at a simmer – don't let it boil.
  • In a large mixing bowl, whisk egg yolks, sugar, salt and cornstarch until glossy.
  • Place the bowl on a dampened kitchen towel to stop it from slipping around for this next step. 
  • Once the milk is hot, gradually pour it into the egg mixture, whisking constantly. This is tempering the eggs.
  • Return the combined mixture to the saucepan over medium heat. Cook the vanilla custard, whisking constantly until it starts to bubble.
  • Once it starts bubbling, it will begin to thicken, keep whisking to avoid the bottom of the pan burning. Keep it at a bubble don't stop whisking for around 1 minute. This is important to cook the custard properly so it stays thick once cooled.
  • Remove from the heat and stir through the butter.
  • Transfer the crème patissière to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap (directly on the surface to prevent a skin), and let it cool to room temperature.
  • Prepare the crème chantilly 
  • ​When the pastry cream has cooled, begin the cream.
  • In a separate bowl, whip the cold heavy cream and powdered sugar to firm peaks. Take are not to overwhip it or it will become grainy.
  • Gently fold half the whipped cream into the cooled pastry cream. Follow with the remaining whipped cream, until there are no streaks of white cream remaining.
  • Cover and chill the crème légère until ready to use.

Notes

Measurements – Both grams and US cup sizes are provided. Use the toggle on the recipe card to switch between the two.
Cook the custard enough. It’s crucial to cook the crème pâtissière mixture long enough to deactivate amylase, an enzyme in egg yolks that can break down starch and cause the custard to become soupy as it cools. Once the custard thickens and bubbles appear, you must cook and whisk continuously for a full minute. This will neutralize the amylase.
Storing – Crème légère can be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 3 days. Any longe than that and the water will start separating from the cream

Nutrition

Serving: 1gCalories: 222kcalCarbohydrates: 14gProtein: 5gFat: 16gSaturated Fat: 9gPolyunsaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 134mgSodium: 110mgSugar: 11g
Keyword creme legere, light cream recipe, pastry cream
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating