Classic Crème Anglaise

Crème anglaise, also called custard sauce, is the foundation for a variety of magnificent creams: ice cream, pastry cream, soufflé and Bavarian cream. It is easy to make but requires attention.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (8 ounces) milk
  • ¼ cup (50 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 3 large egg yolks

Cooking Equipment

Mercury candy thermometer, 1½ quart mixing bowl, 1½-quart heavy-bottomed saucepan

Method

Ingredient Preparations

Rest a sieve on top of a 1-quart mixing bowl to strain the crème anglaise after cooking.

Pour the milk and half the sugar into a -quart heavy-bottomed saucepan (the addition of some sugar raises the temperature of the milk faster and prevents the milk from scorching the pan). Split the vanilla bean in half with a small paring knife, scrape the seeds out and place them in the milk.

Making and Storing the Crème Anglaise

Place the egg yolks in a 1-quart mixing bowl and whisk just to combine; whisk in remaining sugar.

Place the saucepan over medium heat, and bring the milk just to a boil. Turn off heat; then pour about half the milk into the egg-sugar mixture, whisking continuously until they are combined. Pour the mixture back into the saucepan; whisk to combine; then return to medium-low heat.

Stir constantly with a wooden spoon, remembering to reach the entire bottom surface of the pan. (This is a delicate moment, so do not rush the heating or the yolks may curdle.)

Cook until the candy thermometer registers 165 to 170 degrees (about 45 seconds). If you are not using a thermometer, look for steam, meaning the mixture is approaching the correct temperature. Do not allow the mixture to boil, or it will curdle. The custard should be thick enough to nap the spoon and leave a clear path when your finger is drawn down its center. Remove it from the heat, and quickly pour it through the sieve.

Set it aside for 5 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Then cover and refrigerate it. It will thicken slightly as it cools.

Serve within 2 to 3 days.