If you're looking for a classic pastry cream that is light, fluffy, versatile, and absolutely delicious, Diplomat Cream fits the bill. Also known as Crème Diplomate in French, this custard-like cream is a light concoction of pastry cream, whipped cream, and gelatin (optional). Whether you use it as a dessert filling, a dessert topping, or by itself as a sweet treat, it is just as decadent! The best part is that my diplomat cream recipe is easy to make and whip up in just an hour.
- 📖 What is Diplomat Cream
- 💡 Diplomat Cream vs Chantilly Cream
- 🌟 Why this is the best recipe
- 📝 Ingredient notes
- 👩🍳 How to make this recipe
- 📚 Flavor variations
- 🥣 Equipment Notes
- 🎓 Expert tips
- 🎯 Troubleshooting Tips
- ❓Recipe FAQs
- 🍰 Recipes to use Creme Diplomat
- 🧁 More frosting and filling recipes
- Diplomat Cream (Crème Diplomate) VIDEO
📖 What is Diplomat Cream
Diplomat Cream (a/k/a Crème Diplomate or Creme Diplomat) is a delicious custard cream filling that consists of a delicious mixture of pastry cream (crème pâtissiere) and unsweetened whipped cream. Some diplomat creams also include gelatin, although it is optional and dependent on the recipe. For example, if you plan to pipe the diplomat cream on a cake, you may want to add gelatin to make the cream more stable but it is not strictly necessary as a filling.
Because of its taste and texture (lighter than pastry cream yet richer than whipped cream), there are numerous diplomat cream uses: On a tart, as a cake filling, eclair filling, as a fruit topping, or even in a small dessert dish on its own. Whatever you decide to use it for, believe me when I say that you'll be licking your fingers after you get a taste of this classic French-style cream.
💡 Diplomat Cream vs Chantilly Cream
Although similar in texture, it's important not to confuse Diplomat Cream with Chantilly Cream (or Crème Chantilly). As mentioned earlier, Diplomat Cream is a blend of pastry cream and unsweetened whipped cream (that is effectively chantilly cream).
On the contrary, Chantilly Cream is whipped cream only - without pastry cream - typically sweetened by added sugar or syrup. Sometimes, vanilla is added to enhance the flavor.
Although the two names are sometimes used interchangeably, they are in fact, very different creams with different textures, tastes, and sweetness. Chantilly is effectively whipped cream therefore expect cream taste only, while Diplomat cream is a richer custard base fluffy cream filling.
🌟 Why this is the best recipe
- It's versatile - This recipe provides instructions for how to make diplomat cream with and without gelatin to achieve the most appropriate result for your needs. It can be also flavored in various ways, keep reading! Whether making a diplomat cream cake or serving it as a tasty fruit dip, my recipe has you covered.
- It's easy to make - The ingredients required for this recipe are likely already sitting in your kitchen at home. If not, they're easy to find in your local grocery store and prepare.
- It's mouthwateringly delicious - I use the best ingredients and methods to give you the highest quality, best-tasting diplomat cream. I also provide you with alternative flavors to try when you want to switch things up a bit!
- It requires minimal equipment - This recipe only requires four pieces of equipment, which you likely already have in your kitchen. All you need is a digital scale, a rubber spatula, an electric hand mixer, and a hand whisk.
- It doesn't overlook details - From the ingredients and equipment down to the recipe and technique, I make sure to go into every detail to ensure you get the very best, professional results. Baking is a science that sometimes requires many trials and errors. However, my goal is to make sure you get it right the first time around!
📝 Ingredient notes
- Milk- I like to use whole milk with 3% fat. Using a high-fat content whole milk will produce a diplomat cream that is creamy, rich, and full of flavor.
- Sugar - Regular, granulated white sugar is all you need for this recipe. For more information about what types of sugar to use, check out my sugar guide.
- Egg - You will only need the egg yolk of approximately 4-5 eggs (not the entire egg). You can use fresh farm eggs or supermarket eggs. Farm eggs will result in a bright yellow color cream whereas supermarket eggs will produce a paler cream.
- Corn starch - The corn starch thickens the cream.
- Flour - All-purpose flour is what I like to use for this recipe. Remember to sift the flour before using it, it is the other thickening agent. For more information on flour, please check my flour guide.
- Vanilla Bean Paste - If you don't have vanilla bean paste, you can also use vanilla extract as an acceptable substitute.
- Unsalted Butter - To have full control over the saltiness of the mixture, I always use unsalted butter when baking. My personal preference is to use European-style butter with 82% fat content. Always make sure the butter is at room temperature.
- Gelatin - I find using three 1.7g gelatin sheets easier to handle. Simply soak the sheets in cold water for a few minutes before you need to use them. Alternatively, you can use powder gelatin at a 1:1 ratio (3 gelatin sheets = 5g gelatin powder of the same strength). For more alternatives and details on how to handle gelatin, check out my article on gelatin substitutes!
- Heavy Cream - For a smooth, rich, and creamy diplomat cream, it is important to use a heavy cream with 36% fat content. The temperature is also critical here. For this recipe, your heavy cream needs to be very cold.
🛒 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. Diplomat cream without gelatin
While I prefer to use gelatin when making my diplomat cream, it is optional and depends on how you plan to use the cream. Adding gelatin simply makes the cream a bit more stable. The stability makes it suitable for recipes that require the cream to hold its shape (i.e. when being piped or used as a topping).
If you only plan to use the diplomat cream as a filling for your pastry or cake and don't need it to hold its shape, you can eliminate Steps #1 and #7 below.
💡 Top Tip: If eliminating gelatin from your diplomat cream, gently whisk your pastry cream before using. Also, make sure your pastry cream is firm and smooth to make up for the texture that is required in your recipe.
2. How to make the pastry cream
For the best results when making your pastry cream, you want to use a good quality small or medium-sized saucepan so that the milk won't burn. Once you've completed making the pastry cream, it is important to let it chill completely before folding in with the cream.
- If using gelatin to stabilize the cream, place the gelatin sheets in cold water to soak while preparing the other ingredients. Use your digital scale to measure your ingredients and set them aside.
- In a large bowl, mix the sugar and egg yolks using a hand whisk. Whisk the mixture for about 1-2 minutes until it is slightly fluffy.
- Next, add the corn starch, flour, and vanilla and continue to whisk until it is well mixed and turns into a smooth paste.
- In a saucepan, bring the milk to a boil on medium heat. Immediately remove it from the heat once it starts simmering. Pay attention here; you don't want it boiling too hard.
- Pour the warmed milk over the sugar and egg yolk mixture while simultaneously and vigorously whisking the mixture with a hand whisk. You should notice the mixture starting to thicken slightly.
- Pour the mixture back into the saucepan and continue to cook for a few minutes over medium heat until it thickens. Don't worry if the mixture begins to get lumpy. Continue whisking until the cream gets smooth and glossy, like a custard.
- Remove the gelatin sheets from the water and squee out the excess water. Next, stir them into the mixture one sheet at a time.
- If necessary, strain the pastry cream mixture for a creamy and lump-free result.
- Using a rubber spatula, mix in the room temperature soft butter until completely blended.
- Let it set and cool down.
💡 Top Tip: When adding the room temperature soft butter to the mix, you'll get better results if you add the butter in three stages and mix well after each addition.
3. How to turn pastry cream into diplomat cream
Now that you have your pastry cream, it's time to add in your cold heavy cream. This is where it turns into diplomat cream!
- Once your pastry cream is cooled (to at least room temperature) give it a few whisks. No need to whip it, only lighten it a bit in a few seconds so it will be easier to fold in the whipped heavy cream.
- Whip your very cold heavy cream with an electric mixer until it reaches soft peak. Be careful not to overwhip it to the point that it forms lumps. I stress that your heavy cream should be very cold before starting this step.
- Gently fold in the heavy cream with a rubber spatula. I like to add the heavy cream in 3 steps and very gently fold after each addition
- Congratulations, you now have diplomat cream! You can now use your delicious cream to fill your cakes, tarts, or pastries.
- Store it in the fridge for up to two days.
💡 Top Tip: If you decided to eliminate the gelatin and have a softer cream, place it in the refrigerator for an additional 1-2 hours before using it.
📚 Flavor variations
While the classic vanilla flavoring of Diplomat Cream is already divine as-is, it isn't the only option that you have! One of the best things about Diplomat Cream is that it is versatile and can be made with a variety of delicious flavors.
If you choose to add flavor, I recommend using a powdered flavoring agent for the best result and consistency. Liquid-based flavoring agents add moisture to the cream which could result in it getting runny. However, if a liquid flavoring agent is all that you have access to, add it in very carefully and in small amounts.
Here are a few of my favorite flavors to try out:
- Chocolate diplomat cream - Mix finely chopped chocolate into the hot pastry cream at step 7 (How to make pastry cream). It will stabilize the pastry cream (since chocolate is hard at room temperature) so might be able to skip the gelatin
- Coffee diplomat cream - Replace a small amount of milk with coffee when making the pasty cream at step 4 (How to make pastry cream)
- Caramel diplomat cream - Before turning pastry cream into diplomat cream, whisk in soft caramel at step 1 (3. How to turn pastry cream into diplomat cream)
- Cinnamon diplomat cream - Flavor the diplomat cream with ground cinnamon during the process of turning pastry cream into diplomat cream eg. at step 1 or 3
- Pumpkin spice diplomat cream - Flavor the diplomat cream with pumpkin spice during the process of turning pastry cream into diplomat cream eg. at step 1 or 3
🥣 Equipment Notes
To prevent using too much or too little of a particular ingredient, a digital scale is a must. While measuring cups work for some recipes, it can affect the texture as well as the taste of your diplomat cream. For the best accuracy, measure your ingredients with a digital scale by weight (gram).
You'll need a hand whisk in order slightly to loosen up the pastry cream. You'll also need an electric hand mixer to whip up the heavy cream.
I highly recommend a rubber spatula to fold in the whipped heavy cream into the pastry cream. The spatula helps to combine the two ingredients without over-mixing them together.
🎓 Expert tips
- For the best-tasting diplomat cream, use only high-quality butter, pure vanilla, and high-fat content heavy cream.
- Fresh, farm eggs will give a better result and brighter color than eggs bought in a carton from a grocery store.
- Strain the pastry cream mixture to avoid lumps and flour bits. You want to achieve a smooth and creamy cream.
- While cooling the pastry cream, use a shallow bowl or cake pan to speed up the process. Cover it tightly with a plastic wrap to prevent skin from forming on the top.
- When whisking the pastry cream, only give it a few whisks at a time until it becomes smooth. You won't want to over whisk and make it too runny.
- When whipping the heavy cream, only whip it until it reaches soft peak.
- For the best result, fold in the heavy cream in three stages. Add in more heavy cream after each fold.
- If the cream is on the softer side, refrigerate it for an additional 1-2 hours before using it.
🎯 Troubleshooting Tips
Making diplomat cream is fun and easy, but just like a science project mishaps can happen. Sometimes you need a few tweaks and adjustments before you get it just right. Here are some common problems that can occur when preparing your diplomat cream and troubleshooting tips to turn things around and get you back on track:
1. The pastry cream is too lumpy
Lumpiness is totally normal, it is part of the cooking process while making pastry cream. During the cooking process, continue whisking the cream until it gets smooth and glossy, like a custard. If the cream is still slightly lumpy after cooking, you can easily fix it by using a fine mesh strainer.
2. The pastry cream is very liquid
Your pastry cream is not supposed to be set while it is warm, so make sure to let it come to at least room temperature. If after cooling the pastry cream it is still very soft or liquid, it may be that the mixture wasn't cooked long enough. Unfortunately, it is hard to fix cooked pastry cream as the gelatin is already in there and we cannot reheat it.
One way to fix it is to incorporate gelatin into the heavy cream as well and it might set the diplomat cream after folding it together with the slightly runny pastry cream. Alternatively, use the pastry cream for other desserts eg. truffle or cake filling where it does not have to be super thick. Next time, make sure to measure your ingredients correctly and cook the pastry cream long enough.
3. The pastry cream is too hard
If after cooling the pastry cream you find that it is very hard, you can easily loosen the cream up a bit by vigorously whisking using a hand whisk. If after whisking the pastry cream is still too hard, you can try harder and try to loosen it up using an electric hand mixer. Next time, make sure to measure your ingredients correctly as most likely the ingredients were off.
4. The heavy cream does not reach soft peaks
To be able to whip heavy cream properly you will want to use it very cold and the full-fat version (36%). Also, avoid over-whipping the cream, you should stop as soon as the soft peak texture achieved.
5. The heavy cream forms lumps
Lumps occur when the heavy cream is over whipped. If you whip it even longer, it won't get better, in fact, it will break and become runny. Avoid using powerful stand mixers when whipping up the cream and check its consistency every 30 seconds.
6. Unable to fold in heavy cream with the pastry cream
You might find it difficult to fold pastry cream with heavy cream for two reasons: 1. pastry cream is too thick or too thin 2. heavy cream is too thick or too thin
For the best result make sure to loosen up the pasty cream lightly with a hand whisk. In regards to the heavy cream, whip it up only till soft peaks, meaning it is airy and light but not too stiff. Stiff peaks would result in a stiff texture as the name indicated that would make it difficult to fold it with the pastry cream.
7. The diplomat cream is too soft or liquid
You may end up with softer diplomat cream than expected if you eliminate the gelatin from your recipe or if you didn't use enough. If you chose to eliminate the gelatin and find that your cream is softer than you would like it to be, simply put it in the refrigerator for an additional 1-2 hours to help firm it up a bit. Otherwise, next time, you may need to increase the amount of gelatin used.
Because of its light, fluffy texture and rich, yet non-overbearing taste, diplomat cream is a popular go-to ingredient for filling desserts such as cupcakes, choux pastry and sponge cakes. When you add gelatin, it can also be used as a dessert topping or frosting. Diplomat cream is a popular French-style alternative to buttercream.
The two are very similar. However, Diplomat Cream is a lighter version of Creme Patissiere, with added whipped cream and gelatin (optional).
Although the two names are sometimes used interchangeably, they are in fact, very different creams with different textures, tastes, and sweetness. Chantilly is effectively sweetened whipped cream therefore expect cream taste only, while Diplomat cream is a richer custard base fluffy cream filling that is made if Pastry cream and unsweetened whipped cream.
Although often confused with diplomat cream, Bavarian Cream (or Crème Bavarois in French) has a base of Crème Anglaise versus Creme Patissiere and is mixed with whipped cream and gelatin. While gelatin is used optionally in diplomat cream, it is required for Bavarian cream.
Absolutely! But first, you should determine how you plan to use the cream. If you plan to use your diplomat cream as a filling versus a topping, omitting it from the recipe won't make much of a difference. However, if you plan to use it as a topping, you'll need the gelatin to add more structure to the cream. You can play with the amount of gelatin used to get it to the consistency desired for your recipe.
To achieve a thicker diplomat cream, your heavy cream needs to have at least 36% fat, otherwise, it will not whip properly. You can also adjust the thickness of the cream by adjusting the amount of gelatin (adding more will result in thicker diplomat cream) or the amount of starch and flour (adding more will result in thicker diplomat cream as well)
While diplomat cream is great for topping or filling desserts after they are baked, the cream itself should not be baked. Baking the cream would cause it to melt and make a mess!
Diplomat cream is best served fresh. However, if you don't plan on using your diplomat cream immediately, you can prepare it ahead of time. Store it in the refrigerator for 1-2 days in an airtight container or covered it tightly with plastic wrap. For the best results, hold off on adding the heavy whipped cream until the day you plan to use the recipe.
Freezing the cream can change the texture of the cream once thawed, freezing isn't recommended unless absolutely necessary.
🍰 Recipes to use Creme Diplomat
🧁 More frosting and filling recipes
Diplomat Cream (Crème Diplomate) VIDEO
- 500 g (2 cups) Whole milk 3% fat
- 100 g (½ cups) Granulated sugar
- 80 g (⅓ cups) Egg yolk approx. yolk of 4-5 eggs
- 25 g (⅕ cups) Corn starch
- 25 g (⅕ cups) All purpose flour
- 2 teaspoon Vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
- 50 g (¼ cups) Unsalted butter 82% fat, room temperature soft butter
- 3 Sheets of gelatin 3x1.7g=5g gelatin overall
- 200 g (¾ cups) Heavy Cream very cold. 36% fat
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 gelatin sheets in cold water
- In a large enough bowl, with the help of a Hand whisk, whisk together sugar and egg yolk until slightly fluffy for about 1-2 minutes
- Whisk in corn starch, flour, and vanilla until thoroughly incorporated and have a smooth paste
- Bring milk to simmering in a saucepan on medium heat then remove it as soon as it starts simmering
- Pour the warm milk over the egg yolk mixture slowly while whisking vigorously with a Hand whisk. This stage is effectively tempering the egg yolks and the mixture should already start to slightly thicken
- Pour the mixture back into the saucepan and cook on medium heat for a few minutes until it thickens. Concretely it is approximately 1 min after the first boil. It might get lumpy first, don't worry just keep whisking and the cream will get smooth and glossy
- Squeeze excess water from the gelatin sheets and stir them into the mixture one by one
- If in doubt, strain the pastry cream for a lump free, creamy end result
- Add in room temperature soft butter and mix with a Rubber spatula until completely incorporated. It is worth adding the butter in 3 stages and mixing well after each addition.
- Pastry cream needs to completely cool before folding the heavy cream in. Place the cream into a shallow bowl or cake pan and cover the entire surface with plastic wrap to avoid skin forming on top. Let it come to room temperature
- Once cooled, whisk the pastry cream for 1-2 minutes to get a smooth texture. Make sure you do not over whisk it as it can get runny. Give it a few whisk only until smooth
- Whip very cold heavy cream until soft peak. Do not overwhip it to a point that it would form lumps.
- Carefully, with the help of a rubber spatula, fold in heavy cream into the pastry cream. It is worth adding the whipped heavy cream in 3 stages and folding after each addition.
- The Diplomat Cream can be used immediately to fill cakes, tarts, choux pastry, etc. If the cream is more on the soft side, refrigerate it for 1-2 hours before using it.
- Store in the fridge for 1-2 days
- Measure your ingredients with a Digital scale for accuracy
- Good quality butter, pure vanilla, and high fat content (36%) heavy cream are the heart of making diplomat cream.
- Fresh, farm eggs will provide bright yellow color cream, while cheaper supermarket eggs will result in a paler cream
- You can replace the gelatin sheets by an equal amount of gelatin powder (5g)
- 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.
- Let the pastry cream chill before folding the cream in
- It's worth keeping a good quality (so that the milk won't burn in it) small/medium-sized saucepan for making pastry cream only
- Make sure to gently fold the whipped cream into the pastry cream using a rubber spatula
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