Crème Anglaise, the classic custard sauce, is versatile and can be flavored a million different ways. This is a great basic recipe to have on hand. It can elevate an ordinary dessert into a special presentation.
Crème Anglaise is one of those recipes that every pastry chef knows how to make and uses over and over again. But, despite the fancy name and elegant appearance, it really is just a simple custard.
If you master the technique of making crème anglaise you can make any egg custard using the same basic method; pastry cream, ice cream, lemon curd all work the same way. Heat up a liquid base (dairy for custards and fruit juice for curds) then “liason” the hot liquid with eggs and sugar and cook until it’s thickened. That’s it in a nutshell.
What is “liason” anyway? It simply means that you add some of the hot liquid to the eggs to bring the temperatures closer together. If you just poured the raw eggs into the hot liquid you’d end up with bits of scrambled egg in the custard. We want a silky smooth sauce, so we “liason” the ingredients.
Speaking of scrambling the eggs…If the sauce is cooked too fast or too long it can become a bit curdled. If that happens, all is not lost. You can usually bring it back using an immersion (or regular) blender. Just give the sauce a whirl and it should regain it’s silky texture.
This is an essential recipe because the basic sauce can be flavored a million different ways. Of course the classic sauce is made with vanilla bean. I love to add a shot of Grand Marnier to Crème Anglaise and serve it with chocolate souffle. Add espresso powder for coffee flavored sauce, lemon zest or limoncello for lemon sauce, finely chopped mint leaves for mint sauce, etc, etc, etc.
What to serve it with? What not to serve it with!?! As I mentioned above, Crème Anglaise is wonderful with warm dessert souffle. I served it with a Roasted Rhubarb Summer Pudding as shown in the photos in this post. It’s great drizzled over fresh fruit, Pound Cake, fruit pie, angel food cake, etc, etc, etc.
Click through the slider to see how to make perfect Crème Anglaise:
- 1 cup (8 oz, 236 ml) whole milk
- 1 cup (8 oz, 236 ml) heavy cream
- 6 large egg yolks
- 1/3 cup (2 oz, 56g) granulated sugar
- 1/2 vanilla bean or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Scald the milk, cream and vanilla in a small pot over medium high heat.
- While the milk heats up, whisk together the sugar and egg yolks. Whisk the hot milk into the egg yolks, then return the mix to the heat.
- Cook the sauce over low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon (see photo). Remove from the heat and strain.
- Refrigerate until serving.
If the sauce gets a bit curdled, don't panic. To bring back the smooth texture use an immersion blender or regular blender to puree the sauce.
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