Crème anglaise is everything you want in a dessert sauce. Rich, creamy, and perfectly sweet, this French sauce can be used on a variety of desserts for extra oomph!
The best way to describe crème anglaise is by saying that it’s basically liquid crème brûlée. And that makes total sense if you know how crème anglaise is made.
Crème anglaise is made up of egg yolks, sugar, and hot milk. It’s stirred over low heat rather than cooked like crème brulée.
Crème anglaise is also very similar to crème pâtissière, or pastry cream. The only difference in the way that the two are made is that the pastry cream utilizes flour and/or cornstarch. The use of a thickener in pastry cream is essential to transform it from the sauce stage to a firm cream.
With crème anglaise, you want to keep the custard runny. After all, it is a dessert sauce that should be pourable in consistency.
Vanilla, Orange Liqueur & More
Crème anglaise is traditionally flavored with vanilla. This classic flavor works well with a variety of desserts, including simple dishes like a bowl of berries.
There are certain dishes, however, where the crème anglaise could be spruced up for a special touch. For example, some French toast slices would be a perfect canvas for orange-flavored crème anglaise. This kind of substitution would be as simple as adding a little orange zest and orange liqueur to the sauce.
A little pound cake with berries would also be perfect with orange crème anglaise. Or, you could add a pinch of instant coffee granules to your crème and pour it over chocolate cake. The possibilities are endless.
If you’re not much of a baker, a simple drizzle of the sauce over fresh strawberries is truly divine.
Smooth and Creamy
The reason crème anglaise is stirred over low heat is because temperature control is very important. You don’t want to scramble your eggs, so it’s important that you consistently stir the sauce over low heat until it just begins to bubble.
By that point, the sauce is usually the perfect consistency. Crème anglaise should lightly coat the back of a wooden spoon, just enough that when you run your finger down the back of the spoon, it leaves a clear trail.
I like to think that the consistency is somewhere between milk and heavy cream.
If you cook your crème anglaise a little too long, or it happens to become grainy, don’t fret. Usually you can fix this by simply forcing the finished cream through a sieve, which will help smooth it out.
The crème anglaise can be served warm or chilled, and can be safely stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.
A pourable French custard typically served as a dessert sauce for a variety of sweet treats. Makes 1 cup.
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1/4 tsp ground vanilla bean or 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 egg yolks
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
In a small saucepan, warm the milk over low heat just until steam begins to rise from it. Do not let the milk boil. Stir in the ground vanilla (if using extract, hold off for now).
In a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks with the granulated sugar until thick and combined.
Slowly add the milk to the egg yolk mixture, one tablespoon at a time, whisking after each addition. Pour the entire contents back into the saucepan and transfer back over to low heat.
Stir the sauce with a wooden spoon over low heat until it begins to thicken enough to coat the back of the spoon. The sauce will typically begin to bubble when it's thick enough. You should be able to run your finger down the back of the spoon and leave a clear trail. If you're using vanilla extract, take the sauce off the heat and stir in the extract.
To ensure an extra smooth sauce, pour the sauce through a sieve into your desired jar or container to smooth out any clumps. Serve warm or chilled.
Sauce can be safely stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.
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