Thursday, January 19, 2012

Crème Anglaise

Crème Anglaise is much more simple than it sounds – it’s a vanilla pouring custard.  That means it’s like a vanilla custard or rich pudding or the creamy layer under the crackly burnt sugar of a crème brûlée – but more pourable in consistency.  You know, so you can pour it over stuff.  Like so:
creme anglaise on strawberries
creme anglaise in jar
It’s made with egg yolks, cream, a little sugar, and vanilla bean.  Very simple, and very delicious.  Traditionally it’s actually made with milk, but we decided to go for something decadent and so used heavy cream.  Sue me!
creme anglaise action
creme anglaise on spoon
The recipes for this one often sound intimidating – there are lots of warnings not to heat too fast lest you curdle the eggs and wreck the whole thing.  But don’t worry, it’s really a very simple recipe.  The key is to go slow, don’t rush.  Just put your burner on low, stir a lot, and don’t walk away from the pan.  It’s only 15 minutes…but you’ve got to try to make sure the toddlers don’t burn down the house or similar during those 15 minutes.  I recommend either straightjackets or giving them a lick of the crème so that they become addicted and are unable to leave your sight.
See how well it works?
cooking creme anglaise
We’ve got a pretty pink recipe coming up later this week that features our crème anglaise, but we can also vouch for it being delicious with fresh strawberries.  Or lemon thin cookies.  I’m sure there are many other applications, it’s just that I ran out of crème anglaise.

Crème Anglaise

  • 2 egg yolks, in heat safe bowl
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp sugar
  • vanilla bean seeds from about 2” fresh bean.  Or about 1 tsp vanilla extract
Crack the egg yolks in a heat safe bowl.  Set aside at the ready.
Combine cream, sugar, and vanilla bean seeds stovetop.  Heat until steaming but not quite boiling.  Now, whisk in hand, drizzle the hot milk mixture over the cool egg yolks little by little while whisking or stirring well.  Your goal is to slowly incorporate and heat the egg yolks without cooking them.  All you have to do is make sure you drizzle in the hot milk a little at a time (especially in the beginning).
Then, take the fully combined mixture and dump it back in the pan.  Put it over the heat, on low, and stir slowly but surely, as the mixture gently cooks.  It will get thicker and thicker.  When it coats the back of a spoon thickly, or when as you stir you feel a good drag and leave a dry path in your wake, you know it’s ready.  (picture of the “spoon drag” is shown above, in the action montage)
Take it off the heat and continue stirring for a minute or so to help it cool down aand stop cooking.  Pour through a strainer to capture any stray egg curds that may have formed (it happens) into a cool glass jar.  Store in the fridge (where it will become firmer as it cools).  Drizzle over berries, citrus curds (!!), lemon thin cookies, and much more.

creme anglaise dipped strawberry


  1. Creme Anglaise, translates to English Cream, but its French - WACKY! (no reference material here, besides I think wikipedia is still blocked out so Im just guessing) either way, looks divine.
    T x

    1. I actually ran into the Wikipedia black out when I was writing the post. I hadn't realized how much I relied on it to be there...!

  2. I'm not a big fan of anything pudding-y, but Oh My Lord - the expectant look on the faces of those children is just too precious!

  3. Lovely photos! I love creme anglaise, and you're right, it is fairly easy to make.

  4. Lovely pictures :-)
    My mum gave me the recipe of my "crème anglaise" : I love it.
    It is so yummy served with a "tarte tatin" !

  5. Love this - have you ever tried it with honey rather than sugar??


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