Pastry Fillings and Toppings Reference

This is a non-exhaustive reference of things you can make to put in, on or with pastries. It should include most sweet sauces and maybe some savouries but not any savoury sauces that are not within the domain of the Patissier or Confiseur.

These lists are not intended to replace recipes; they are a comparative tool to choose an appropriate filling or topping given time, storage or ingredient constraints. Core ingredients do not include any flavouring components (e.g. vanilla) unless considered intrinsic.

Categories are not exclusive (many preparations belong to several categories).

Custards and Cremes

Custard or “crème moulée” refers technically only to an egg-thickened sauce, but this list includes starch-thickened sauces such as pastry cream/crème pâtissière.

Name Base Ingredients Prep. Time Storage Consistency Description / Notes
Crème anglaise (common English custard) Sugar, Milk, Egg Yolks     Pourable Usually used as a pour-over sauce or directly as a custard (e.g. creme brulee).’ Temperature must not exceed 70-80C or it will curdle. Usually flavoured with vanilla but takes many others well. If not too runny, different colours will not mix together unless stirred, which can be used for aesthetic effects. May be thickened with Gelatin when it must support higher layers.
Crème pâtissière (Pastry Cream) Milk, sugar, Egg Yolks, Flour     Thick, neither Pourable nor Stiff Similar to Crème anglaise but with flour and cooked at hotter temperatures (the starch prevents eggs curdling and gives a much thicker cream). Usually made in bulk and refrigerated for later use. Widely used for fillings; usually flavoured with vanilla but takes many others well. Used as a base for some other pastry creams (see below).
Creme Chiboust Milk, sugar, Egg Yolks, Egg Whites, Flour, Gelatin     Thick, may be Stiff depending on preparation Pastry Cream with added whipped egg whites folded in. Lighter than standard creme patisserie. Traditionally made without gelatin but usually with now to ensure stiffness. Sometimes whipped cream is added for a richer flavour. Common filling for lighter pastries esp Millefeulle and Gâteau Saint-Honoré.
Creme Mouselline Milk, sugar, Egg Yolks, Flour, Butter     Thick, may be Stiff depending on preparation Pastry cream with added butter; richer and stronger flavours. Can be used for filling or glazing. Due to the butter it goes bad quickly outside of the fridge. Butter-rich Creme Mouselline can support surface decoration like buttercream.
Creme Legere Milk, sugar, Egg Yolks, Flour, Cream     Thick, may be Pourable or Stiff depending on preparation Pastry Cream with whipped cream folded in, usually double cream. Can be made to various consistencies and used for fillings, layered cakes or in poured custard desserts. Richer than standard pastry cream but lighter than Creme Mouselline.
Crème d’amandes (Almond Cream) Sugar, butter, almond flour, (p) eggs (1:1:1:1)     Stiff Made from equal parts of the four ingredients, or from a premade almond and powdered egg mix. The almond flour must be very fine (not course meal) and pasteurized eggs should be used for food safety. If suitable eggs are not available, equal parts of Crème d’amandes and Pastry Cream can be mixed and the resulting cream can be pasteurized.
Crème Frangipane Sugar, almond meal, eggs, butter, flour (2:2:2:1:1)     Stiff (after baking) Baked and so pasteurized eggs are not required; can use course or fine almond meal. Used in Bakewell tarts and many fruit flans.

Cream based Creams

Name Base Ingredients Prep. Time Storage Consistency Description / Notes
Creme Chantilly (Whipped Cream) Cream, sugar, vanilla     Thick or Stiff depending on preparation Whipped cream - usually heavy cream - stiffened with caster sugar. Creme Chantilly technically is always vanilla flavoured.
Ganache Cream, Chocolate     Extremely variable, can be made pourable or very hard Melted chocolate mixed with cream (full to double cream); proporations of each can vary depending on desired consistency and usage. Harder preparations can be used for sculpture and decorations. Used for petit fours, fillings, topping or glazing.
Creme Mouselline Milk, sugar, Egg Yolks, Flour, Butter     Thick, may be Stiff depending on preparation Pastry cream with added butter; richer and stronger flavours. Can be used for filling or glazing. Due to the butter it goes bad quickly outside of the fridge. Butter-rich Creme Mouselline can support surface decoration like buttercream.


This includes preparations made by caramelizing inherent sugar (e.g. caramelizing milk or fruits) but not preparations which use caramel (e.g. pralines).

Name Base Ingredients Prep. Time Storage Consistency Description / Notes
Dry Caramel Sugar     Hard and inflexible; brittle if thin Made by melting and caremelizing pure, dry sugar; usually used for making praline, spun sugar, sculptures, casings, enrobing and structural support. Holds shapes and details well and ideal for moulding. WARNING: Dry caramel can cause severe burns as it will stick to skin and has a high melting point.
Wet Caramel (Candy) Simple syrup (sugar in water)     Variable from pourable to hard Texture is categorized according to the structure it forms when dropped in cold water (thread, softball, hardball, soft crack, hard crack), which is dependent on the temperature used; a thermometer is essential to get the desired texture.
Toffee Sugar or Treacle, Butter     Variable from brittle to soft and sticky Made by boiling the ingredients at high temperature (about 150°C) until they stiffen; texture can be varied depending on both the temperature and the ratio of sugar to butter. Commonly used for enrobing and filling; harder variants are suitable for moulding.
Butterscotch Brown Sugar or Treacle, Butter, Cream (opt)     Variable from pourable to hard Similar to Toffee but made to lower temperatures (about 120°C); cream can be added to make Butterscotch sauce which is a flexible filling, topping or sauce with a smoother flavour.
Honeycomb Toffee Sugar or Treacle, Butter, Bicarb, Acid (e.g. Vinegar)     Brittle An aerated toffee made by incorporating baking soda and acid while making toffee, which produces small bubbles of CO2. Commonly flavoured with honey, but not necessarily. Widely used as confectionary filling (e.g. Crunchie and Violet Crumble bars)
Dulce de Leche Condensed Milk, Sugar (opt)     Thick to Pourable Made by caremelizing condensed milk, with or without additional sugar; can be used as a soft filling like pastry cream or as a glaze or sauce. WARNING: Some recipes for Dulce de Leche call for unopened cans to be heated; this is dangerous as they can burst and spray boiling water and molten sugar all over the kitchen.
Confiture de Lait Full Fat Milk, Sugar     Pourable to Spreadable Made by boiling then gently reducing a mixture of 2 parts milk to 1 part sugar until it reaches a custard-like consistency. As the name (“Milk Jam”) implies it can be used as a condiment or spread.


Syrups are mainly differentiated by the different sugars in them (sucrose/glucose/fructose) or flavours which come from their source (e.g. Honey, Maple Syrup, Malt Syrup). This table includes refined syrups, but not flavoured syrups.

Name Base Ingredients Sugars Description / Notes
Simple Syrup / Sugar Syrup Sugar, Water Sucrose Usually made by dissolving 1:1 or 2:1 ratio of sugar and warm water, with the temperature well below boiling to avoid caremelization. Pectin or gum arabic may be added to make the syrup vicous. Used for preserves (i.e. Jam), caramels, candy; may be infused with many flavours to use as a flavouring agent for hot or cold drinks.
Inverted Sugar Syrup Sugar, Water, Acid (opt) Glucose, Fructose Made by splitting the sucrose in simple syrup; this can be done with the aid of an acid (e.g. lemon juice or cream of tartar), an enzyme, or just heating for a long time. Compared to simple syrup it is sweeter, more water-soluble, retains more moisture, more stable and less likely to crystallize; thus widely used in baking. Acidulated invert syrup may be used as a substitute for Honey or Golden Syrup if they are not available.
Treacle (Sugar Cane or beet) Varies A leftover by-product of refining sugar, with a caramel-like flavour; used in many traditional British/Anglo recipes. Treacle flavours vary depending on the plant used and the refining process.
Golden Syrup Sugar Cane/Beet or Invert Syrup Glucose, Fructose A light treacle; can be used as a substitute for Invert Syrup or Honey (and vice versa).
Molasses (Sugar Cane or beet) Varies A heavy treacle; as it contains more of the plant matter it flavours vary widely depending on the source and refining process. It is less sweet and has a stronger flavour - some molasses are bitter to the taste and are used as a flavouring agent or source of minerals rather than a sweetener.

The “Mother Sauces”

The five mother sauces defined by Auguste Escoffier’s Le Guide Culinaire. Most are thickened with roux (flour and butter or oil, breifly cooked so it doesn’t taste flour-ish); roux is included as an ingredient rather than its components.

Most of these are purely savoury. but all five are included for comparison.

Name Base Ingredients Description / Notes Notable Child Sauces
Sauce Béchamel / White Sauce Roux and Milk Fairly bland so often flavoured with infusions; often used as a filling or binder e.g. in pies and baked pasta dishes. Can be used as a cheese alternative on gratins and pizza. Mornay sauce (Béchamel with cheese melted in)
Sauce Hollandaise Egg Yolk, Butter, Acid (Lemon Juice, Wine or Vinegar) Very rich, very likely to split rather than mixing properly. Many sweet and savoury variations. Sauce Mousseline / Sauce Chantilly (Hollandaise with whipped cream folded in), Sauce Béarnaise (infused with shallots, herbs and spices).
Sauce tomate (Tomato Sauce) Reduced or Pureed Tomatoes, Salt Pork, onions, herbs and spices, roux (opt) A rich and flexible savoury sauce; it can be made without a roux by reducing the sauce until it reaches the desired thickness. Many variations on the vegetables, herbs and spices exist.
Espagnole sauce (“Spanish Sauce”) / Brown Sauce Stock, tomato puree, mirepoix, browned roux Another rich, flexible savoury sauce with many variations using different vegetables, wine, herbs etc. Sauce chasseur (“hunter’s sauce”, with mushrooms and shallots), Demi-glace (“half-glaze”), Espagnole with equal parts stock.
Velouté sauce (“Velvet-ish sauce”) Roux and Stock A light and smooth savoury sauce, often used with delicate dishes or made richer by combining Allemande sauce (Velouté thickened with egg yolk, cream and flavoured with lemon juice; used where Velouté would be too light and Hollandaise too heavy)


Initial version (missing cheeses, glazes, time and storage).