This is essentially a creamy vanilla egg custard. It is probably one of the most popular dessert sauces, and it can be a dessert on its own.
- Scald milk with vanilla pod and set aside to infuse for a few minutes.
- Combine egg yolks and sugar in a bowl, and whip until thick and creamy.
- Slowly, pour warm infused milk over the egg and sugar mixture, stirring continously.
- Set the custard mixture over simmering water and heat slowly, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until it thickens and coats the back of the spoon.
- Remove the custard from the heat, strain through a fine sieve.
- Serve warm, as dessert sauce. Or allow to cool to serve as dessert or cold sauce.
If you don't have it, substitute the vanilla pod with 1-2 teaspoons vanilla extract. Stir vanilla extract into the finished sauce prior to straining.
Place a whole cookie, cookie crumbs, biscotti, a piece of cake, jam, or fruit salad at the bottom of 4 individual ramekins, distribute the custard among them, leave to cool. Dessert!
For a richer crème anglaise, use a mixture of milk and heavy or whipping cream. Use 2 parts cream and 3 parts full fat milk.
Chocolate crème anglaise - Melt 3 ounces sweet chocolate, stir into warm crème anaglaise after straining. Alternatively, add cocoa powder to the milk.
Coffee crème anglaise - Add 3 tablespoons espresso coffee to the finished sauce. You can also add 2 teaspoons instant coffe powder to the milk.
Lemon crème anglaise - Susbstitute vanilla pod with 2 tablespoons grated lemon zest, better blanched, and proceed as per the normal recipe.
Spiced crème anglaise - Substitute vanilla pod with 1 teaspoon ground spice such as allspice, clove, star anise; a stick of cinnamon; or half a teaspoon saffron strands.
Natillas de huevo - For this classic Spanish dessert, follow the recipe for crème anglaise, substituting the vanilla pod with 1 stick cinnamon, without the white pith. Pour into individual containers, with or without a biscuit at the bottom, and sprinkle ground cinnamon on top. Lleave to cool and then chill for 1-2 hours before serving. Natillas can be served warm, especially in winter, but they are chilled more often than not.
Brandy sauce - Add 2 tablespoons brandy to the finished sauce. Serve brandy sauce with Christmas puddings.
Other spirits or wines can be added to the custard instead of brandy, making many spirited variations. A tea crème anglaise can be prepared Infusing 2 tablespoons loose leaf tea into the milk - try a sweet tea such as Earl Grey or Jasmine. Infusing lemon verbain into the milk instead of vanilla will produce a subtle lemon custard.