Bavarian cream or Crème Bavarois is a classic French dessert made with just six simple ingredients: Milk, sugar, egg, vanilla, gelatin, and heavy cream. This light and creamy treat is super flavorful and perfect for your donuts, cakes, and pastries as a topping or filling. It is so versatile and delicious that you can even enjoy it as a dessert on its own!
- 📖 What is Bavarian Cream
- 📚 What is Bavarian Cream used for
- 🌟 Why this is the best recipe
- 📝 Ingredient notes
- 👩🍳 How to make this recipe
- 📚 Flavor variations & Substitutions
- 🥣 Equipment Notes
- 🎓 Expert tips
- 💡 What is the difference between Bavarian Cream and Custard
- 💡 What is the difference between Bavarian Cream and Pastry cream
- 💡 What is the difference between Bavarian Cream and Panna Cotta
- ❓Recipe FAQs
- 🍰 Recipes to use Bavarian Cream
- 🧁 More frosting and filling recipes
- Bavarian Cream (Crème Bavaroise)
📖 What is Bavarian Cream
Also known as Creme Bavarois in French, Bavarian cream is a traditional French dessert created in the 19th century by chef Marie Antoine Carême. Often confused for similar custards and creams, it is a light, vanilla-flavored cream made with a Crème Anglaise base combined with gelatin and then folded with whipped heavy cream.
The whipped cream makes it lighter and creamier than the usual custard and versatile enough to be used in numerous ways. Do not confuse Bavarian cream with other custard creams such as pastry cream, creme anglaise, or cream mousseline.
📚 What is Bavarian Cream used for
Bavarian cream is highly versatile and has a variety of purposes to enhance the flavor and texture of many desserts. In fact, there are countless recipes with Bavarian cream in which you can use it as a filling, as a topping, or as a standalone dessert - just like vanilla ice cream!
You can use Bavarian cream filling for your favorite cupcakes and pastries like my Mini-Strawberry Pies, or make a Bavarian cream cake similar to my Victoria Sponge Cake. Or, use the cream filling to make Bavarian cream donuts!
It also tastes just as great in a serving cup topped with fruit or in a mold similar to panna cotta.
🌟 Why this is the best recipe
- It is the most delicious - I use the highest quality ingredients to ensure the creamiest texture and best flavor.
- It is easy to make - My step-by-step guide below makes it super simple for anyone to follow, whether a beginner or expert.
- No fancy ingredients or equipment are necessary - You can find all six Bavarian cream ingredients and equipment in your local grocery store, although many are probably already in your pantry!
- It is versatile - You can flavor and use this decadent cream in many ways, which I share in the Flavor Variations & Substitutions below.
- It is a detailed tutorial - Not only is this Bavarian cream recipe easy to make, but it also dives into the science behind the process so that you end up with flawless results every time.
📝 Ingredient notes
- Milk - For the best results, use milk with a high-fat content. I use whole milk with 3% fat in this recipe.
- Sugar - Plain, white granulated sugar works the best. See my sugar guide for the different types of sugar and how to use them in baking.
- Egg yolk - You will need the yolk of approximately three eggs.
- Vanilla extract - Pure vanilla extract gives this Bavarian cream its delicious flavor. You can also use vanilla bean paste. Avoid using imitation vanilla extract at all costs.
- Gelatin sheets - You can also use 6.8g of gelatin powder as an alternative. See my gelatin guide for more about using gelatin sheets vs. powder.
- Heavy Cream - Use heavy whipping cream with at least 36% fat for the best results. The cream needs to be very cold before whipping it.
🛒 You’ll find detailed measurements for all ingredients in the printable version of the Recipe Card at the bottom of this post
👩🍳 How to make this recipe
1. Step-by-step process
- Start by soaking the gelatin sheets in cold water.
- Then, using a hand whisk, combine the sugar, egg yolk, and vanilla in a large bowl for 1-2 minutes until slightly fluffy.
- In a saucepan, bring the milk to a simmer over medium heat. It is important to keep it at a simmer; do not let it boil.
- While vigorously whisking the egg yolk mixture, slowly pour in the warm milk mixture. This process will effectively temper the egg yolks.
- Pour the combined mixture back into the saucepan and cook over medium heat until the temperature reaches 180F / 82C.
- Immediately remove the custard mixture from the heat as soon it reaches the desired temperature. Otherwise, it will curdle.
- In the meantime, squeeze the excess water from the gelatin sheets. Gently stir the sheets into the hot cream.
- If using gelatin powder instead of sheets, mix the powder with one tablespoon of cold water. Once it thickens into a paste, immediately mix it into the warm custard.
- Once thoroughly mixed, place the custard into a shallow bowl or container and cover it with plastic wrap to prevent skin from forming on top. Let it sit for one hour until it reaches room temperature.
- Once the custard reaches room temperature, whip the cold heavy cream until it starts to form stiff peaks. Do not overwhip.
- Using a rubber spatula, gently fold the whipped cream into the custard in 2-3 portions.
- If using it as a filling, you can use it right away.
- If using the cream as a frosting that you will pipe, chill the cream for 2-3 hours to allow the gelatin to set.
- As an individual dessert, pour it into the desired mold and refrigerate it for at least 4 hours.
💡 Top Tip: To make removing the dessert from the mold easy and mess-free, increase the amount of gelatin in the recipe.
📚 Flavor variations & Substitutions
Vanilla Bavarian cream is the traditional flavor. However, there are many other flavor variations and ways to serve Bavarian cream that you can try:
Chocolate Bavarian cream: Stir in melted dark chocolate as I do in my chocolate creameux for a creamy chocolate dessert.
Hazelnut Bavarian cream: Give it a nutty flavor by adding hazelnut liqueur to the mixture or hazelnut butter.
Coffee Bavarian cream: Add a small amount of espresso powder to give the cream a coffee flavor.
Different extracts: Swap out the vanilla extract for almond, lemon, or orange extract to give the cream a different flavor profile.
With fruit: Try it with pureed strawberry, raspberry, or mango for a refreshing fruit Bavarian cream.
Without eggs: Custard-based desserts are never the same without eggs however you can probably make this recipe with agar agar as an egg substitute.
🥣 Equipment Notes
🎓 Expert tips
- For the most flavorful cream, always use high-quality ingredients: pure vanilla, high-fat content milk, and fresh eggs.
- For a bright yellow-colored cream, use fresh farm eggs. Cheaper eggs from the grocery store will give a pale-colored cream.
- Use a digital thermometer to check the temperature of the combined warm milk and egg mixture. Do not let the heat exceed 180F / 82C, or the egg will curdle.
- Before adding the heavy cream, wait for the custard to come completely to room temperature.
- When whipping the cream to early stiff peaks, you want to whip until the peaks stand straight up when the whisk is lifted, and the tips don’t curl. Stop whipping as soon as it reaches this point, or you risk overwhipping the cream and making it too stiff to fold in with the custard.
- For the best results, fold the whipped cream into the custard in portions versus all at once.
- Do not let the covered mixture chill in the refrigerator to bring it to room temperature. Otherwise, the gelatin will set too hard.
💡 What is the difference between Bavarian Cream and Custard
Bavarian cream and Custard are similar in their thick and creamy texture. However, the ingredients used to make Bavarian cream and custard make the most significant difference between the two. Bavarian cream has a base of custard itself as well as gelatine and whipped cream.
The color is also one of the differences between the two. Bavarian cream tends to be lighter than custard as whipped heavy cream is folded into the custard.
💡 What is the difference between Bavarian Cream and Pastry cream
While the two creams are generally used in similar ways and are sometimes confused with one another, they use entirely different ingredients. Bavarian cream is made from a Crème Anglaise (also called custard) base made with milk, vanilla, egg yolks, and sugar, then thickened with gelatin and folded with whipped heavy cream.
On the other hand, pastry cream (also known as Crème Pâtissière) has a base of milk and egg yolk and is thickened with cornstarch or flour. It also has a thicker consistency than Bavarian cream due to these thickening agents. You can easily convert pastry cream to German Buttercream by whipping in extra butter or to Diplomat Cream by adding gelatin (optional) and folding in whipped cream at the finish.
💡 What is the difference between Bavarian Cream and Panna Cotta
Also similar to Bavarian cream, Panna Cotta is thickened with gelatin and uses milk and cream. However, unlike Bavarian cream, Panna Cotta eliminates the egg yolk and does not incorporate whipped cream before setting. Therefore, Bavarian cream tends to be significantly heavier than panna cotta.
Cover the cream with plastic wrap touching its surface. Then, place it in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to three days.
Since it contains gelatin (which does not freeze), I do not recommend freezing it.
Bavarian cream contains eggs and dairy and has a limited shelf life. The whipped cream in the ingredients will also start to deflate over time. To extend the shelf life, always place it in the refrigerator when not in use and serve cold.
For vegan diets or other dietary restrictions, you can use agar agar or cornstarch as a gelatin substitute.
🍰 Recipes to use Bavarian Cream
Below are a few recipes where you can use Bavarian cream as a filling or frosting.
🧁 More frosting and filling recipes
Bavarian Cream (Crème Bavaroise)
US customary cup measurement is an indicative figure only. Measure the ingredients with a digital scale by weight (gram). Baking is art but also science which requires precision and accuracy.
- Soak the gelatin sheets in cold water.
- In a large enough bowl, with the help of a Hand whisk, whisk together sugar, egg yolk and the vanilla until slightly fluffy for about 1-2 minutes.
- Bring milk to simmering in a saucepan on medium heat. Make sure it is simmering but not boiling.
- Pour the warm milk mixture over the egg yolk mixture slowly while whisking vigorously with a Hand whisk. This stage is effectively tempering the egg yolks.
- Pour the mixture back into the saucepan and cook on medium heat until temperature reached 82C / 180F.
- Remove the cream from the stove as soon as cream reaches the desired temperature. Do not cook it further as the mixture will curdle.
- Squeeze excess water from the gelatin sheets and stir them into the hot cream. Alternatively, if using gelatin powder, mix together the gelatin powder with 1 tablespoon of cold water then when thickened into a paste, immediately mix into the warm custard.
- Place the custard into a shallow bowl or container and cover the entire surface with plastic wrap to avoid skin forming on top. Let it come to room temperature in about an hour. Do not let it chill as the gelatin will set too hard.
- Once the custard is at room temperature, whip very cold heavy cream until early stiff peaks. Do not overbeat.
- Fold the whipped cream very gently into the custard in 2-3x portions.
- As a filling, you can use this Bavarian cream straight away. As a frosting to pipe, chill it for 2-3 hours for the gelatin to set.
- As an individual dessert, pour the cream into your mold and refrigerate it for a minimum of 4 hours. Also, you might want to increase the gelatin in the recipe to be able to neatly unmold the dessert.
- Measure your ingredients with a Digital scale for accuracy.
- High-fat content milk and pure vanilla extract are the heart of making Bavarian Cream.
- Fresh, farm eggs will provide bright yellow color cream, while cheaper supermarket eggs will result in a pale cream.
- You will want to use high-fat content heavy cream (36%) and it has to be very cold before whipping up.
- I am using 4 gelatin sheets that can be substituted with 6.8g gelatin powder. Check my gelatin guide to learn more about how to with gelatin sheets vs powder.
- Make sure you read my Expert tips section above to maximize your success. A short recipe alone is not able to cover all the necessary details, and science behind baking.
- Do not heat the mixture further than 82C / 180F as the egg will curdle.
- Make sure to let the custard come to room temperature before folding the whipped heavy cream in.
- When whipping the cream, you will want to reach early stiff peaks; stiff peaks (or firm peaks) stand straight up when the mixer is lifted, and the tips don't curl. However, stop whipping as soon as you reach stiff peaks as once you over-whip the cream and it will become very stiff, the texture won´t be smooth enough to fold in with the custard.