Almond Pastry Cream is a sweet pastry cream flavoured with blanched, finely-ground almonds (as in almond flour, not almond meal.)
It can be used either as a topping or filling.
In the classic French version, you make it by flavouring pastry cream (crème pâtissière) with crème d’amandes, combining equal portions of each. Some recipes may cheat and used crushed macaroons or tinned almond paste instead with which to flavour the pastry cream.
There is also a savoury version (see Panade à la frangipane.)
The French name is Crème Frangipane. In Italian, “frangipani” means “breakers of bread”. The Frangipani were a Roman family at the height of their influence in the Middle Ages. The family name is first recorded in 1014. Their family crest depicts two lions holding loaves of breads. Family legend had it that the family had saved some poor people by distributing free bread during a famine (which particular famine is unspecified.) Their family chapel is in the church San Marcello al Corso (Piazza di San Marcello, Rome), in which there are three busts of family members.
At the end of the 1400s, one of the family, Mutio Frangipani (sometimes referred to as “Marquis Muzio Frangipani”) was a botanist and an alchemist. He travelled to the West Indies in 1493. Off what is now known as Antigua, the sailors asked him if he knew what was causing a fragrant scent that was in the air. He said it was from flowering deciduous bushes now classed as “Plumeria Alba” (named after the French botanist and monk Charles Plumier, 20 April 1646 to 20 November 1704.) The flower was given, at some point, the common name of “frangipani” in honour of Mutio (it’s also called the “Nosegay Tree”.) A thick, pasty essential oil with a floral, spicy smell can be extracted from the flowers: the extract is called frangipani.
In any event, Frangipani reputedly concocted a perfume blend as well — or at least, it’s attributed to him. It was a dried perfume sachet, called a “Sachet a la frangipane.” The sachet contains a mixture of ground orris-root, vitivert powder, sandal wood powder, neroil, rose, santal and ground musk-pods.
Though neither the flower nor the perfume blend had any association with almond, the fragrant smell of the almond pastry cream eventually caused it to be named in his honour.