Candida Martinelli's Italophile Site

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Creams, Puddings or Custards 





Swt Salami



Rice Pudding





Creams, or creme in Italian, are sweet, creamy, dairy desserts, often called puddings or custards in English. 


Some Points

  • Several basic creme (see recipes below) are used alone or as an ingredient in other Italian desserts (see my Spoonbread page).

  • Each crema has many ingredient/flavor variations including coffee, adding or varying the liquor, candied fruit, chocolate, ground nuts, lemon or orange juice and rind.  Use your imagination!

  • They are quick to prepare and delicious served warm or cold.  

  • When served up in wine glasses, they can make a very classy impression, and a light end to a meal.

  • Try dividing the cream into two portions and flavoring each separately, then serving them spooned together in wine glasses.  Chocolate and orange creams go well together, for example, as do plain vanilla cream and chocolate cream, and coffee and whiskey creams.

  • You can always just serve the cream over sliced fresh fruit.

  • When cooking the creams (recipes 1,2 & 4 below), whisk the ingredients continually in a saucepan over a low flame preventing a rolling boil which can curdle the eggs.  It's handy to use a double-boiler (bain-marie, bagno-maria) if you have one.  


A Very Simple Cream That Works Every Time

This is my fool-proof recipe for pastry cream that I use all the time.  Whisk all the ingredients together while they are still cold, then whisk continually over a medium flame (reduced to a low flame for the last few minutes of cooking) until the cream thickens (roughly 5 minutes in total).  

  • 1 cup milk

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla (you can add more to taste after it is cooked, or use almond flavoring for example)

  • 2 egg yolks

  • 1/4 cup sugar (if you replace the sugar with a diet sweetener, double the flour to compensate for the lost thickening agent)

  • 2 tablespoons flour


The Five Basic Italian Creams

  1. La crema (Cream):  1/4 liter whole milk, 1/4 liter cream, 150 grams sugar, 5 egg yolks, vanilla to taste

  2. La crema pasticcera (Pastry Cream):  1/2 liter milk, vanilla to taste, 4 eggs, 2 tablespoons flour, 1 teaspoon corn starch (corn flour), 50 grams butter, 150 grams sugar

  3. La crema di ricotta o mascarpone (Ricotta/Mascarpone Cream):  300 grams ricotta or mascarpone cheese, 3 egg yolks, 150 grams sugar, brandy to taste (This recipe is not cooked but refrigerated, but beware of the bacterial dangers of uncooked eggs.  You can use 3-4 tablespoons of cream instead of the egg yolks if you wish.)

  4. Lo zabaione (Sabayon, Zabaglione):  6 eggs yolks, 3/4 cups sugar, 1 cup Marsala wine (add the wine a little at a time).  Note that some recipes call for no cooking and the eggs whites to be whipped and folded in.  But again, beware of eating uncooked eggs.  The above recipe is the traditional one (minus some water that replaced some of the at-the-time expensive Marsala wine).

  5. La panna montata (Whipped Cream):  1/2 liter cream, 100 grams sugar, 80 grams powdered sugar


Some Flavor Variations for the Basic and Pastry Creams

  • Coffee:  add 1/4 cup espresso or two teaspoons of instant coffee powder, adjust it to your tastes by adding more or less coffee or adding some more vanilla for example

  • Chocolate:  add two teaspoons cocoa powder or shavings of chocolate or chocolate chips

  • Malaga:  add raisons and Malaga wine or Rum to taste

  • Zabaione:  add Marsala wine to taste

  • Almond:  add 100 grams of ground almonds and some Amaretto liquor to taste

  • Lemon:  add 1/4 cup lemon juice and a teaspoon of grated lemon rind, or to taste

  • Orange:  add 1/4 cup orange juice and a teaspoon of grated orange rind, or to taste

  • Whiskey:  add whiskey to taste, this resembles the Irish whiskey cream liquors in flavor


My Other Summer Sweets Pages


Visit my Italian Liqueur Page for Info and Recipes


Italian Food

Italian Recipes