Crème Anglaise

Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Easy

  • Yield:

    6 cups

Appears in

Sauces

By James Peterson

Published 1991

  • About

Ingredients

vanilla beans 2 2
milk 1 qt 1 L
sugar ¾ cup plus 2 tbsp 175 g
egg yolks 12 12

Method

  1. Cut the vanilla beans in half lengthwise and add them to the milk in a 2-quart (2 liter) saucepan. Bring the milk to a simmer.
  2. While the milk is heating, whisk together the sugar and egg yolks in a heatproof bowl until the sugar dissolves and the yolks are pale yellow.
  3. As the milk approaches a simmer, remove the vanilla beans and scrape the inside of each half with a paring knife to release the tiny seeds. Return the seeds to the milk.
  4. When the milk simmers, pour half of it over the egg yolk–sugar mixture, gently whisking.
  5. Add the egg yolk–sugar-milk mixture to the saucepan and stir it over medium heat with a wooden spatula or spoon. Stir constantly, being careful to reach around and into the corners, where the cream is most liable to coagulate and separate into coarse aggregates.
  6. Do not let the cream boil. Check the consistency of the cream by holding up the spatula sideways and making a streak along the back with your finger. When the streak remains without the cream running down and obscuring it, the cream is ready.
  7. Immediately remove the cream from the heat. Continue stirring for 1 to 2 minutes, so the heat retained in the bottom of the saucepan won’t cause the crème anglaise to curdle.
  8. Strain the cream through a strainer. Do not use a chinois or the specks of vanilla will be strained out.
  9. Set the cream over a bowl of ice to cool it quickly, stirring to prevent a skin from forming.

Variation

This is the classic and traditional way of making a crème anglaise. Another method is to cook it sous vide, which allows you to poach the milk-yolk-sugar-vanilla mixture in a well-sealed plastic bag at a precise temperature. One advantage to this technique is that you can then keep the sauce in the immersion bath until needed.

Whisk together the yolks, milk, split vanilla bean, and sugar and vacuum-seal in a heavy plastic bag. Cook the mixture sous vide at a temperature of 156°F (70°C) for 40 minutes. At this point, you can use the crème anglaise right away, you can keep it in the sous vide tank for up to a couple of hours until you need it, or you can transfer it to a bain-marie (water bath) to keep it warm. If you’re serving it cold, or not using it right away, transfer the crème anglaise to a mixing bowl and let cool, stirring every minute or two to keep a skin from forming on the surface.