Vanilla Custard Sauce (Creme Anglaise)


by: Faerie Chef

To make most Bavarian creams, you first need to make a liquid custard called a “creme anglaise.” Custards are made by slowly cooking liquid or semiliquid mixtures that have been combined with eggs, egg whites, or egg yolks until the mixture sets. Creme anglaise has the same ingredients as creme brûlée (an example of a sweet custard) except that milk is used instead of cream. But creme anglaise is cooked in a saucepan while stirring so it thickens but doesn’t set completely. Because creme anglaise is thickened with egg yolks alone, with no starch to stabilize them as there is in pastry cream, don’t overheat it or it will curdle. Until you gain confidence, cook the creme anglaise over low to medium heat in a nonaluminum (aluminum turns it gray) heavy-bottomed saucepan, but don’t bother with a double boiler which is hard to control. While stirring, reach into the corners of the saucepan with the wooden spoon or spatula so the egg yolks don’t hide there and curdle. Knowing when the creme anglaise is done is the only tricky part. The classic method is to dip a wooden spoon into it and then make a line on the spoon with your finger. If when you hold the spatula sideways, the line stays there, the creme anglaise is ready. However, there is always the danger of the creme anglaise curdling while you’re staring at the spoon and the line on the spoon is sometimes hard to see. Many cooks find it easier simply to look at the surface of the custard sauce while stirring it over the heat. At the start, the sauce generates lots of tiny ripples; when it is ready, these ripples turn into larger waves. When you’re first learning, you might want to use a thermometer (the creme anglaise is ready at 180°F), but this too can be fraught with peril because the difference of a few degrees can be critical. Classic recipes may contain as few as 8 egg yolks or as many as 20 per quart of milk.


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serves: 1

1 vanilla bean (or 2 teaspoons vanilla extract)

3 cups milk

8 egg yolks

3/4 cup sugar

Nutrition Facts
Vanilla Custard Sauce (Creme Anglaise)

Servings Per Recipe: 1

Amount per Serving

Calories: 1487

  • Total Fat: 61.4 g
  •     Saturated Fat: 28.8 g
  •     Trans Fat: 0 g
  • Cholesterol: 1578.1 mg
  • Sodium: 89.3 mg
  • Total Carbs: 189.5 g
  •     Dietary Fiber: 0 g
  •     Sugars: 185.1 g
  • Protein: 44.3 g

how is this calculated?

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1.  If using a vanilla bean, split it in half lengthwise. Place the milk and vanilla bean (if using) in a small nonreactive saucepan over low to medium heat, and bring to a simmer.

2.  While the milk is heating, stir together the egg yolks, vanilla extract if using, and sugar until the mixture is pale, about 4 minutes. Ladle about half of the hot milk into the yolk mixture while stirring constantly. Pour the mixture back into the saucepan with the rest of the milk, stirring until well combined. Put the saucepan back over low to medium heat and stir with a wooden spoon. Reach into the corners as you stir or the mixture may curdle there.

3.  When the tiny ripples turn to larger smooth waves or a line stays on the back of the spoon, take the mixture off the heat and continue stirring for 2 minutes, so the heat retained in the saucepan doesn’t overcook the custard.

4.  If you’ve used the vanilla bean, remove it from the custard and scrape the tiny seeds out of both halves into the creme anglaise.

5.  Cover the creme anglaise, let it cool for an hour, and then refrigerate; or set the saucepan in a bowl of ice water and stir until cold.

6.  Strain the creme anglaise with a medium- or coarse- mesh strainer. (A fine-mesh strainer will strain out the vanilla seeds.) Cover with plastic wrap touching its surface to prevent a film from forming on top.

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