Monday, March 14, 2011

The perfect vanilla sauce

If I had to pick one favorite dessert sauce it would definitely be creme anglaise. With its intense vanilla flavor, its thin and light structure it is just a perfect complement to many of my favorite sweets, especially fruit cakes and crumbles, chocolate fondant and muffins. I like it so much that it became my habit to make it.

For me vanilla bean is the most beautiful ingredient. That's probably why I really enjoy making creme anglaise despite even the fact that the process involves standing next to the stove for some 15-20 minutes and constantly stirring the slowly thickening custard. All this time I'll be watching the bean opening in hot milk, giving out the seeds and its unbelievable aroma.

This time I made it for the apple and strawberry crumble and really liked the combination.

Creme anglaise (recipe adapted from David Lebovitz The Sweet Life in Paris)

makes 6 servings (as a dessert complement)

4 egg yolks
50 gr sugar
vanilla bean, split lengthwise
375 ml whole milk

Whisk the egg yolks slightly in a medium bowl. Heat the milk with sugar and vanilla bean. Once warm, pour the milk into the yolks, whisking constantly.

Set the bowl with the mixture over the pan with boiling water and cook, stirring constantly till the custard thickens. David makes it directly on the stove, on the low heat. I prefer the water bath as the creme easily curdles if overheated. The final texture will still be quite thin.

Remove the creme anglaise from heat and cool down stirring from time to time. Use the cold water bath if you need to serve it fast.

Related posts and pages:

Pastry & Cakes
Custards & Puddings
French food
Food books


  1. Great post! But I have a question. How long can I keep the vanilla sauce in the refrigerator? Thanks

    1. Thank you, Vlad! You can keep it in an airtight container in the fridge for 2-3 days and reheat (if needed) before serving. It doesn't freeze well though, unfortunately (looses texture).