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Earl Grey Crème Légère
2 c
half-and-half (or 1 cup whole milk and 1 cup heavy cream)
Earl Grey tea bags (optional)
½ c
(scant) (90g) granulated sugar, divided
¼ tsp
sea salt
¼ c
egg yolks
2 tbsp
unsalted butter
1 tsp
vanilla extract
1 c
heavy whipping cream
Earl Grey Crème Légère

Crème légère is a French pastry cream that has been lightened with stiff whipped cream. The result is an airy custard that is good enough to eat by the spoonful. 

For a classic vanilla cream, simply add vanilla extract after the custard has thickened—along with the butter. Or heat the half-and-half with Earl Grey tea bags for a more sophisticated filling scented with bergamot and black tea. 

3 cups

  1. In a medium saucepan, combine the half-and-half with ¼ cup of the divided sugar and the salt. Add Earl Grey tea bags, if using, and bring to a simmer over medium heat. 
  2. Meanwhile, in a large mixing bowl, combine the rest of the sugar, cornstarch, and egg yolks. Whisk together until thick and pale, about 1 minute. 
  3. Once the half-and-half mixture comes to a boil, turn off the heat, remove tea bags (if using), and very slowly begin to drizzle the hot liquid into the yolk mixture, whisking constantly and vigorously as you do so. Once you have added about half of the hot liquid to the bowl, mix well and pour the entire mixture back into the saucepan. 
  4. Turn the heat back on to medium-low and whisk constantly until the mixture is thick and bubbling—2–4 minutes. Allow the mixture to boil for 1 minute, whisking the entire time.
  5. Remove the pan from the heat and add in the butter and vanilla extract, if using. Stir to combine and transfer the pastry cream to a wide, shallow dish. Cover with plastic wrap pressed directly to the surface of the custard and place in the refrigerator until completely cooled, about 30 minutes.
  6. When the custard has cooled, transfer it to a clean large mixing bowl. 
  7. In a separate mixing bowl, whip heavy whipping cream until it just holds stiff peaks. 
  8. Add ⅓ of the whipped cream to the bowl with the pastry cream and mix them together. Add the rest of the whipped cream and gently fold the mixture until just combined.  Transfer the légère cream to a piping bag or large Ziploc bag—no tip is necessary (I normally just snip off the end of a disposable piping bag, leaving a ¼-inch opening), but you may use a Bismarck tip if you wish. Store in the refrigerator until ready to use or up to 3 days. Please note that custard does not freeze well. 

Zola Gregory

Zola Gregory is a writer and recipe developer based in Seattle. Having previously worked as a pastry chef and baker, she now enjoys helping others find success in their own kitchens through her stories, recipes, and baking classes.