I could eat this sauce by the spoonfuls and I mean with a very big spoon! Not only does it taste heavenly, you don’t have to wait too long to eat it. In just 10 minutes, you can have a spoonful of this most delicious, creamy sauce in your mouth. It can be used over a range of desserts and fruits – so versatile. You might recall Creme Anglaise being served with Bread and Butter Pudding, Steamed Puddings, Poached Pears, Chocolate Molten Lava, etc.
Years ago, I stepped into a hotel coffee house renown for its cakes. I ordered my then favourite dessert, a Mille Feuille also known as a Napoleon (think alternating layers of puff pastry and pastry cream). It arrived served on a delicate pool of what I now know as Creme Anglaise. I knew then that Mille Feuille would no longer be my favourite sweet when without realising it, I cleaned up all the Creme Anglaise without even touching the Mille Feuille. I would go back to the hotel just to have the Creme Anglaise, forget about the Napolean even though that was good too. Those repeated hotel visits happened before I taught myself to cook. I soon realised that with my fanatical fascination for seeking out and eating good things, it would make more sense, economical and otherwise to learn to cook. I like this sauce so much, I only make it on the rare occasion. If I was not concerned about my waist line, sugar and cholesterol levels, I would be drinking this sauce from the bottle.
Creme Anglaise, Custard Sauce, Vanilla Sauce
|Can recipe be doubled?||Yes|
|Make ahead?||Up to 3 days. Keep covered and refrigerated.|
5 egg yolks
1. In a deep bowl, whisk the egg yolks and sugar to incorporate. No need to dissolve the sugar. Set aside.
2. In a non stick saucepan and over medium heat, warm up the whipping cream and milk until bubbles forms around the circumference. Watch the milk as it will boil over very quickly if you let it. Turn off the heat, transfer saucepan from the burner onto work surface.
3. Use a long ladle to spoon and add in the hot milk/cream into the egg yolk/sugar mixture whilst whisking all the time. You must whisk or you might end up cooking bits of your egg yolks. Repeat 3 more times or until you have added 1/3 of your milk/cream into the egg yolk/sugar mixture.
4. Pour the mixture in the bowl, back into the saucepan and return it to the burner.
5. Turn the heat back to medium and use a wooden spoon* to stir continuously. Do not leave the stove and continue stirring, as the sauce will start to thicken very quickly, likely within a minute. Remember to reach the spoon down the entire bottom surface of the saucepan, including the circumference. Within 3 to 5 minutes of stirring, you should have a very light, pourable sauce that has a slightly thicker viscosity than whipping cream.
6. At any point, if you think your sauce is thickening too fast for you to manage, take it off the heat and continue stirring, then put it back on the heat until you reach the stage where you can leave a drawn line at the back of the spoon. There is a very narrow margin for error. Remember, it is better to under cook the sauce, so take it off the heat to be on the safe side. You can always put it back on the burner to cook further. Once you overcook the sauce and it starts to form little lumps, you will have to start all over again. I myself take the saucepan off the heat two or three times, just to be sure I do not end up with scramble eggs.
7. To check if the sauce is ready. Use your finger to trace a line on the back of the wooden spoon. It should leave a clear trail as pictured below.
* If you choose to use a silicon spoon to stir, please be aware that when you trace a line on the back of that spoon, it might not leave that distinct a line for you to realise that the sauce is ready. Use the silicon spoon to stir but test with either a metal or wooden spoon to check if the sauce is done.
8. Once the sauce is done, remove from the burner and continue stirring for 2 minutes to bring down the temperature and to make sure the bottom doesn’t start to scramble.
9. Add 1 and 1/2 teaspoons of Vanilla Extract at this point (which also helps to bring the temperature down and prevent eggs from scrambling. Stir it in.
10. Strain the sauce into a container. Let the sauce cool a little. Either serve it warm or cold. Cover the surface of the sauce directly with plastic wrap to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate if you are not using it anytime soon.
Creme Anglaise can be served with:
(1) Almost any cake. Either leave a jar of it out for your diners to help themselves or pour it over, under or alongside the cake. I find the sauce especially good with Bread and Butter Pudding, Chocolate Molten Lava Cake or any Chocolate Cake, Sponge Cake, Fruit Cake , Mille Feuille, Apple Crumble, Spotted Dick (a traditional British steamed pudding that has dried fruit and uses suet – beef/mutton fat).
(2) Stewed Fruits such as Poached Pears (I have a recipe for Coffee Poached Pears)
(3) Almost any Fresh Fruit: Most berries, Figs, Peaches, Nectarines.
(4) Canned/bottled peaches, pears and nectarines, drained of syrup
Add brandy, liqueur or a flavouring of your choice to make this sauce the way you like it. Add it after the sauce is cooked. I like the following flavourings:
(1) Brandy, Sweet sherry, Limoncello, Cointreau
What to do with the egg whites?
Angel Food Cake, Egg White Omelette, …
WHAT’S COMING UP NEXT?
We are inching towards the last quarter of the year. Before you know it, there will be the perennial deluge of year end parties to attend and to throw! I love the year end festive period. It is my favourite time of the year. In keeping with the festive and party spirit, I will begin posting a varied series of possible party food ideas that you could try out and then decide how to plan your party menu.
To start off, a menu that you might not be familiar with but is so suitable for convivial entertaining. Not too long ago, I hosted a meze dinner inspired by the regional cuisines of North Africa, the Mediterranean and the Middle East. Dining meze style is always a fun option for entertaining. The dining is casual and relaxed. A good spread of often savoury dishes are laid out. Guests eat how much of whatever they want, when they want. The same goes with the wine. Diners should not be surprised that a main course might not be served. Why would you need one? There will be enough of a selection of meze to keep everyone happy, indulged and full. For the host, most of the cooking can be done ahead which leaves you free to mingle, entertain and enjoy the evening with your guests. It liberates you from the kitchen stove and that is always a good thing.
Zaalouk – Moroccan Roasted Eggplants and Tomatoes;
Kabis – Lebanese Pickled Turnips and Beets;
Moroccan inspired Radish, Bell Peppers and Mint Salad;
Flash Fried Sweet Mini Bell Peppers.
Greek inspired Shrimp with Tomatoes and Feta;
Hummus with Spiced Angus Beef Slices;
Beef Kafta – Lebanese inspired Meatballs.
Labneh – Lebanese Drained Yogurt Drizzled With Extra Virgin Olive Oil And Clover Honey;
Moroccan inspired Roasted Green Bell Peppers and Tomatoes With Olives;
Fresh Figs With Peppered Ricotta.