Crème anglaise (French for "English cream") is a light, pourable custard used as a sauce to accompany cakes, tarts, cobblers or fresh fruit. It has a rich vanilla flavor. Crème anglaise also can be a dessert on its own; for example, Île flottante (floating island) and Œufs à la neige (eggs in snow) consist of different types of meringue floating on top of crème anglaise.
Crème anglaise is fairly easy to make if you properly temper your egg yolks with the hot milk and cream.
Preparation / cook time 30 minutes Makes about half a liter (about 2 cups)
240 milliliters (1 cup) milk
240 milliliters (1 cup) heavy cream
½ vanilla bean, split lengthwise, seeds scraped and reserved
150 grams (¾ cup) sugar
4 egg yolks, at room temperature
Measure the ingredients.
Prepare an ice bath by filling a metal bowl with ice and cold water, large enough to fit the glass or stainless steel bowl for the crème anglaise. The amount of water that you use should be enough so that the ice cubes do not stick together and flow around the bowl of crème anglaise placed in the bath, without overflowing. In addition, set aside a fine strainer or chinois.
Heat the milk, cream and vanilla bean (seeds and pod) in a medium saucepan. Bring it to a boil. Remove the pan from the heat and allow to cool for 1 minute.
Combine the yolks and sugar in a large bowl and whisk until the mixture is very pale.
Next, while whisking the yolks continuously, pour a large ladle or cup of the hot milk/cream into the yolks in a steady but slow stream. Whisking the yolks continuously will prevent them from curdling. This process of “tempering” the yolks is done to slowly bring up their temperature without scrambling them with the hot milk/cream (if you end up with a yolk scramble, you will need to throw it out and begin again).
Then, immediately and slowly pour the tempered yolk mixture into the remaining hot milk/cream in the saucepan, making sure to constantly whisk the hot milk/cream while doing so. Never cease whisking when adding the yolks to the saucepan!
Cook the mixture over low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon until the custard coats the back of the spoon. This may take up to 10 minutes. Avoid excessive heat as this may cause the yolks to curdle. Also be sure to stir the bottom corners of the pan.
Remove the pan from the heat and immediately strain the mixture into the prepared bowl to remove any lumps and the vanilla pod. Set the bowl over the prepared ice bath. Stir to cool down and stop the cooking process. You can stop stirring when the mixture stops steaming.
Take the bowl out of the ice bath. Cover and refrigerate until chilled and ready to use. The crème anglaise can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.