Crème anglaise is a sweet custard-like sauce, the name of which is French for “English cream,” and this method truly is foolproof.
- 4 cups (1 liter) whole milk
- 2 Madagascan or Tahitian vanilla beans (or a few coffee beans, for coffee crème anglaise)
- 14 egg yolks
- 1¼ cups (9 oz./250 g) sugar
1Put the milk in a large saucepan, slit the vanilla beans lengthwise and scrape the seeds into the milk, adding the beans as well (or add the coffee beans, if using). Bring to a boil, remove from the heat, and cover. Let infuse for 15 minutes (15–30 minutes for the coffee beans) and then remove the beans.
2Chill a large metal spoon in the refrigerator to test the custard. In a large bowl, whisk the egg yolks and sugar together until pale and thick. Slowly drizzle in the infused milk, whisking constantly. Pour it back into the saucepan and stir constantly with a wooden spatula (making figure of eight movements is less tedious), over low heat for 15–20 minutes, until the custard thickens and coats the spatula. It is important not to let the custard boil or the egg yolks will scramble.
3Remove it from the heat and stir for a few more minutes. Dip the chilled spoon into the custard to coat the back of it, draw a line down the center with your fingertip, and if the line holds, the custard is ready. If not, cook for a few more minutes and test again but do this frequently as an undercooked custard will be too runny and an overcooked one will curdle.
4Pour into an attractive serving bowl or jug and press plastic wrap over the surface to prevent a skin forming. Let cool and chill for at least 2 hours.
Extracted from Enjoy: Recipes for Memorable Gatherings by Perla Servan-Schreiber (Flammarion, 2020).