Crèmeschnitte is a traditional European dessert that has many origins, names and methods of making. Essentially it has two layers of puff pastry sandwiched around vanilla custard.
Why you’ll love crèmeschnitte
- It’s so light and creamy it feels like you can just eat the whole tray by yourself!
- Can be made with store bought or homemade puff pastry.
- A great make-ahead dessert.
My mom made a version of this growing up, however this is totally different hah so if you’re looking for my mom’s recipe, this is not it. But I do have some of her other recipes on here like Honey Lemon Cake, Apple Cake, and a few more (Dobos) in my cookbook Frosted.
What is crèmeschnitte?
As I mentioned before, this beauty is a light custard sandwiched between two layers of puff pastry.
This pastry has many different origins so if you research different European countries, you’ll find many different names for it and a few different methods of making it.
Growing up my mom made it with a thick pudding-like filling. That is a little more traditional as you’ll find most people make it with pastry cream and two sheets of puff pastry, one for the bottom and one for the top.
The custard I use is actually Bavarian Cream. Bavarian Cream is a crème anglaise mixed with a stabilized whipped cream. It’s sets up in the fridge from the gelatin but it’s incredibly light and fluffy.
Because it’s so light, I actually just used one sheet of puff pastry, let it puff and bake up in the oven and then slice it in half (this is actually how my mom made it too).
When you place the top half on top of the cream and you go to slice it, sometimes the pastry can squish out the sides and make it annoying and sloppy to slice so I crushed up the top layer and spread it on top of the cream. This makes it much easier to slice and a little easier to eat as well. Although it does get a little messy if the top kind of flakes off a little but it’s better than all the cream squishing out the sides IMO.
If you like learning about types of creams, check out my cookbook Frosted for 14 base recipes and my downloadable guide (below) for step-by-step pictures (of recipes from Frosted) and all the troubleshooting tips!
- Sugar: I use granulated sugar and this cream is not overly sweet so don’t cut the sugar. I haven’t tested it but I’m sure brown sugar would also work well.
- Eggs: I use just egg yolks for this custard because you want it to be very thick and flavorful so it’s not too subtle or loose when combined with the whipped cream.
- Butter: There’s technically no butter in Bavarian but I couldn’t resist a tad of salted butter for this custard slice. Unsalted works fine too. I would add a tiny pinch of sea salt if you use unsalted.
- Heavy Cream: heavy whipping cream is used to make the whipped cream, I recommend something between 35%-45% fat.
- Make sure it’s cold straight from the fridge when you whip it.
- Gelatin: you will need gelatin for the cream to firm up in the fridge.
- Vanilla: See below for different flavor options but for vanilla, I like to use vanilla bean paste, vanilla beans or vanilla powder. Vanilla extract also works, the higher the quality the better the flavor.
STEP 1: Bring the milk to a simmer. Meanwhile whisk the egg yolks and sugar aggressively for 1-2 minutes while the milk heats.
STEP 2: Stream the milk into the egg mixture, while whisking, to temper the eggs. Then add the egg mixture to the saucepan and cook over low heat for 5-10 minutes, while whisking continuously (doesn’t have to be aggressive whisking just keep it moving the whole time).
The custard thickens just slightly.Pour the custard back into a large bowl and set aside for a second.
STEP 3: Bloom the gelatin and then microwave it for 10 seconds. Mix and add it to the custard. Whisk the gelatin well with the custard and then cover the surface with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for about 2 hours until the custard feels somewhat set and still a little jiggly but not runny.
STEP 4: Bake the puff pastry until it’s fully puffed and browned. Allow it to cool completely before slicing in half.
STEP 5: Slice the puff pastry in half and then use your hands to crumple the top half into a bowl or pan and set aside.
STEP 6: When the custard is chilled, whip the cream with the powdered sugar, just until stiff peaks form.
STEP 7: Remove the custard from the fridge and use a whisk to mix it until it’s smooth again. This will disrupt the gelatin a little but it will set again when we put it back into the fridge. Make sure you whisk it until they’re are no more lumps and the custard is smooth again.
Add 1/3 of the whipped cream to the custard and whisk until it’s completely smooth. Add another 1/3 of the heavy whipping cream to the custard and now use a rubber spatula to fold it in gently. Repeat with the last 1/3.
STEP 8: Spread the mixture onto the bottom half of your puff pastry. It’ll be tall but it should be thick enough not to spill past the edge of the puff pastry. Cover the top of the cream with the crushed puff pastry.
Refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight. Dust with powdered sugar before serving.
How to flavor Crèmeschnitte
There’s a few different methods you can use to flavor Bavarian cream. The first is by whisking in 2-4 Tbsp (20-40g) cocoa powder with the sugar, egg yolks and butter. You can also mix in melted chocolate chips/chocolate bars.
Mix in lemon curd, citrus zest, freeze dried ground fruit, nutella, peanut butter, cookie butter, etc. If you’re adding something liquid-y, make sure it’s not more than a couple of tablespoons or increase the gelatin by ¼-½ tsp.
You can also steep the heavy whipping cream with vanilla, chai spices, teas, etc. before whipping it to give it flavor.
I was recently thinking of replacing some of the milk with reduced apple cider, then adding some apple butter to the finished cream and topping the puff pastry with cinnamon sugar.
Can I make it ahead of time?
Bavarian cream needs a few hours to set in the fridge so this is the perfect dessert to make 1-2 days ahead of time. I feel like after a couple of days the cream starts to loosen up a bit so I wouldn’t make it too far in advance.
Expert tips on getting the perfect cream
- Don’t swap ingredients unless I mentioned them in the ingredient section above.
- Don’t reduce the sugar.
- Use the puff pastry fresh when it’s made and use the Bavarian cream fresh when it’s done to fill the puff pastry. Give it several hours in the fridge before slicing – overnight is best.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes! You can use a homemade puff pastry or rough puff. I used a store bought because although I like to make almost everything homemade, that was not in the cards today LOL.
Dairy free butter and milk works well but unless you have a dairy free heavy whipping cream you like then probably not. Coconut cream works well but it obviously tastes like coconut.
Yes! So to be honest, this recipe is much easier if you use an 8 ounce tub of Cool Whip just because that’s already stabilized and it holds up even better. Make sure you’re using Cool Whip and not something off brand and make sure it’s the full-fat version.
If you’re using Cool Whip, skip the sugar that gets mixed with the whipped cream and skip half of the gelatin.
How to store a crèmeschnitte?
Store the crèmeschnitte in the fridge, covered or in an airtight container for up to 3ish days. I have not tried freezing it (because it never lasts long enough in my house lol) but I don’t imagine it would freeze well. The pastry will likely get really soggy and the cream will likely deflate when you thaw it.
Thanks so much for reading today’s post, if you have any questions just comment down below.
If you make this crèmeschnitte, I’d love it if you left a star rating or a review for me! 🙂
As always, have a blessed day and happy baking!
Crèmeschnitte (Vanilla Slice)
- 1 sheet pan
- 1 small or medium pot
- 1 large bowl
- 1 medium bowl
- 1 Whisk
- 1 stand mixer or hand mixer
- 1 sheet of puff pastry thawed
- 1 cup (240mL) whole milk
- 4 large egg yolks room temperature
- 1/2 cup (100g) granulated sugar
- 2 Tbsp (28g) salted butter room temperature
- 2 tsp vanilla bean paste
- 1 Tbsp (9g) gelatin dissolved + 2 Tbsp cold water
- 1/3 cup (40g) powdered sugar spooned and leveled
- 1 1/2 cups (13oz) heavy whipping cream cold
- Make sure you remove the puff pastry from the freezer in advance. I like to thaw it in the fridge overnight but if you leave it out at room temperature for a couple of hours, that should be fine. Make sure it's still somewhat chilled when you go to bake it though.
- Place the milk in a saucepan over medium-low heat and allow it to come to a simmer.1 cup (240mL) whole milk
- Meanwhile place the egg yolks and sugar in a medium bowl and whisk aggressively for 1-2 minutes while the milk heats.4 large egg yolks, 1/2 cup (100g) granulated sugar
- Remove the milk from the heat and stream half of it into the egg mixture, while whisking, to temper the eggs.
- Then add the egg mixture to the saucepan with the rest of the milk and cook over low heat for 5-10 minutes, while whisking continuously (doesn’t have to be aggressive whisking just keep it moving the whole time).
- The custard won’t thicken significantly but it should thicken slightly. To test if the custard is done cooking, it should coat the back of a spoon and when you draw a line through it (on the back of the spoon) the line stays separated. You can also use a thermometer and bring the cream to about 180F-185F.
- Pour the custard back into a large bowl, add the butter and vanilla and mix just until they're all combined.2 Tbsp (28g) salted butter, 2 tsp vanilla bean paste
- In a small bowl, mix together the gelatin and water until they’re combined. Let it set and then microwave it for 10 seconds. Mix and then add it to the custard. Whisk the gelatin well with the custard and then cover the surface with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for about 2 hours until the custard feels somewhat set and still a little jiggly but not runny.1 Tbsp (9g) gelatin
- During this time, preheat your oven to 425F.
- Place your sheet of puff pastry onto a cookie sheet and spread it out just slightly, about an extra inch on each end to make it a little longer (I just use my fingers to gently press on it, a rolling pin also works).1 sheet of puff pastry
- Bake the puff pastry for 10 minutes and then reduce the temperature to 350F for 10 minutes or until it’s browned on top (it should be puffed like my photo).
- Remove the puff pastry from the oven and set it aside to cool completely. Once it’s cooled, use a large serrated knife to slice the puff pastry in half (I like to leave just a little more on the bottom than the top), making a bottom half and a top half. Press the insides of the bottom half down to flatten it a little and the edges should come up a little creating a small barrier around the edge for the cream to sit in.
- Place the top half in a bowl (or pan) and use your hands to crush it into tiny little pieces. Set aside.
- When the custard is ready, sift the powdered sugar into the bowl of a stand mixer (or a large bowl with a hand mixer). Add heavy whipping cream and mix on medium-low speed until it thickens a little, about 30 seconds. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat for just another 30-60 seconds, until the cream holds stiff peaks. Don’t over-mix.1/3 cup (40g) powdered sugar, 1 1/2 cups (13oz) heavy whipping cream
- Remove the custard from the fridge and use a whisk to mix it until it’s smooth again. This will disrupt the gelatin but it will set again when we put it back into the fridge. Make sure you whisk it until there are no more lumps and the custard is smooth again.
- Add 1/3 of the whipped cream to the custard and whisk until it’s completely smooth. Add another 1/3 of the heavy whipping cream to the custard and now use a rubber spatula to fold it in gently. Repeat with the last 1/3.
- Spread the mixture onto the bottom half of your puff pastry. It’ll be tall but it should be thick enough not to spill past the edge of the puff pastry. Cover the top of the cream with the crushed puff pastry.
- Refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight. Dust with powdered sugar before serving.