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Crema Chantilly

A Delightful Treat

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I was recently looking for information on Crema Chantilly and came across Carroll Pellegrinelli's cream page, in which she says that Chantilly is whipped cream with a dash of vanilla and an abundance of powdered sugar. Good, but when Italians speak of Crema Chantilly they mean whipped cream folded into crema pasticcera (pastry cream), so I dug further and discovered that the classic Chantilly is French, as one might guess from the name, and is indeed whipped cream flavored with vanilla and powdered sugar. The name, which was applied to it in the 18th century, is an indirect bow to the great French chef Vatel, who organized a series of Banquets for Louis XIV in Chateau Chantilly in 1671, and whipped up the sweetened cream to go with dessert. Making Chantilly is quite easy; you'll need:
  • 1 cup (250 ml) chilled heavy cream
  • A half cup (50 g) powdered sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • A round-bottomed metal bowl
  • Ice water
You can either whisk the cream or use a hand-held mixer; in either case keep the bowl in the ice water to keep the cream from warming, and beat the cream until it is softly fluffy but holds its shape. At this point gently fold in the powdered sugar (tap it into the bowl through a wire mesh sieve) and the vanilla. The Chantilly is now ready, though you can chill it briefly in the fridge if need be.

So how do we get from this to the Italian Crema Chantilly? I'm not sure, but one of my Italian cookbooks mentions salsa Chantilly, which is made by whipping cream until it is soft and fluffy, and folding it into freshly made mayonnaise to obtain a sauce that will be both delicious and decadent. In short, perfect for the elegant and refined (or you and me) to serve with delicate steamed fish, boiled meats, or even baked potatoes.

The obvious analog for savory Salsa Chantilly is going to be Crema Chantilly, made by folding whipped cream into an equal volume of crema pasticcera; it combines the richness of crema pasticcera with a delightful lightness and is perfect for filling beignets or other pastries, or making layer cakes, or millefoglie. Try it and you will never go back to other creamy fillings.

So what do you need?
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 3/8 cup (75 g) sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • The yolks of 3 very fresh eggs
  • 1 cup (250 ml) whole milk
  • A pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup (125 ml) heavy cream
Set 3/4 cup of the milk to warm over a gentle flame.

Lightly whisk the yolks in a bowl to break them. Strain the flour into the bowl, whisking gently, and making sure that no lumps form. Whisk in the sugar too, and then the remaining milk, keeping a wary eye for lumps.

By this time the milk on the stove will be about ready to boil. Slowly whisk it into the egg-and-milk mixture, and add the vanilla extract. Return the cream to the pot and the pot to the fire, and continue cooking over a low flame, stirring gently, until it barely reaches a slow boil. Count to 120 while stirring constantly and it's done. (Note -- depending on your eggs and milk it may thicken to the proper consistency before it boils. If it reaches roughly the consistency of commercially prepared plain yogurt of the sort that will pour from the cup it's done).

You now have crema pasticcera; transfer it to another bowl (metal is best) to cool, and as it cools whip your heavy cream until it is soft and holds its shape. Fold it into the crema pasticcera and you have Crema Chantilly.

What to do with it?
Related Video
Chantilly Cream

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